Communicating climate change internationally
A great deal of the English language research and analysis of climate change communication focuses on the US/Canada and the UK. This is not surprising – as wealthy, industrialised nations, they have the financial resources to sponsor this kind of research.
But look further afield, and there are lots of examples of climate change communication resources that have a more international feel.
A major research programme funded by the BBC World Trust studied attitudes to climate change in ten African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda. As well as producing some of the first Afro-centric data on public perceptions of climate change, it made some recommendations for communicating climate change more effectively – critical for shaping adaptation strategies across the continent.
Focussing specifically on Uganda, the Panos Eastern Africa study ‘Hidden Heat‘ reported the results of a wide range of interviews with key climate change communicators in the country, including journalists, policy-makers, campaigners and academics. One of the more surprising findings was that it tended to be newspaper Editors – rather than journalists working on climate change stories – who were acting as a barrier to effective communication. While knowledge and capacity among environmental journalists has increased in Uganda in recent years, at the Editorial level, climate change is still not treated as a major concern.
The improvement in standards of environmental journalism in Uganda, other African countries, and indeed across the world is at least partly to do with the work of the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED). In its role coordinating the Climate Change Media Partnership, it has awarded dozens of journalists from developing countries fellowships and training to develop their capacity to report on environmental issues, and especially climate change.
And through publications written by Mike Shanahan such as ‘Why the media matters in a warming world: A guide for policy makers in the Global South‘, and ‘Time to adapt? Media coverage of climate change in non-industrialised countries‘, the IIED is continuing to promote effective climate change communication in countries where the capacity to conduct research or train journalists effectively is often minimal.
From an Asian perspective, the China Dialogue website has often acted as a hub for people interested in communicating climate change more effectively in China and the East. Sam Geall’s report on climate change journalism in China – based on interviews with Chinese journalists – is especially relevant, and makes the case for increased cooperation between Chinese and Western media houses and development agencies in promoting effective and accurate climate change journalism.
There are also some interesting examples of communication work being developed for more specialist areas. REDD.net is an international network that seeks to champion the rights of the global south in the debate about REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which is supposed to allow developing countries with critical resources like rainforests to receive payment from polluting nations in order to keep those forests intact, or to embark on programmes of tree planting to help absorb some of the world’s excess carbon. Because it is such a knowledge-intensive and complex field, initiatives like REDD.net are invaluable.
And the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CGIAR) research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture has recently produced a brief on how to communicate the concepts behind carbon trading and “carbon finance” to farmers, following a conference in Nairobi.
Is there an internationally-oriented resource that you know about that should be included on Talking Climate? If there is, then let us know, and we’ll add it to our list of resources.
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