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November 19th, 2010

unesco-ipsThe United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa are partnering to highlight Africa’s voice at ‘COP 16’, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes (UNFCCC) to be held in Cancun, Mexico during November 29 and December 10, 2010.

This initiative will prepare African reporters for the upcoming 2011 COP meeting in Sandton, South Africa. Two African fellows have been selected to cover Cancun and will be producing print and radio stories for distribution to newsrooms across the continent.

The purpose of the UNFCCC is to attain stabilization of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a level that prevents dangerous interferences with the climate system. After the less than successful COP15, Mexico has been assigned the task to create an environment where a legally binding agreement would be more viable.

UNESCO’s Fackson Banda says “Africa is the continent hardest hit by climate change yet benefits least from the current international agreements. It is crucial that African countries put their concerns on the table and push for solutions that respond to their specific problems. Apart from civil society, the media have a responsibility to communicate Africa’s climate change concerns through various print and electronic means.”

UNESCO (www.unesco.org) encourages international peace and universal respect by promoting collaboration among nations. Its mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.

IPS Africa’s Paula Fray said the partnership was the start of the region’s preparation to ensure that African reporters were able to attend and cover the South African meeting in Johannesburg next year.

“We are reaching out to all our donor partners with a holistic plan to ensure that the Johannesburg meeting will not only be well attended by reporters but also well covered. To do this, we will strengthen our editorial and training focus on climate change over the next 18 months and this partnership with UNESCO allows us to start this process early.”

IPS Africa (www.ips.org/africa) is a leading source of information about Africa, with a network of more than 100 writers reporting from almost 50 countries. IPS Africa produces regular features on development issues such as poverty, women’s empowerment, governance, access to water, research and trade. IPS Africa’s journalistic output is primarily available in English and French, with translations in Swahili and Portuguese. The organisation is part of the IPS international News Agency (www.ips.org) registered in Rome, Italy.

*For more information or interviews contact Prof Fackson Banda, UNESCO, f.banda@unesco.org or Ms Paula Fray, IPS Africa, pfray@ips.org.

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