JAKARTA – Putting climate change in the context of rural agriculture. Packaging and selling story ideas to editors. Translating policy into stories that affect daily lives. Discussing the need for better understanding of climate change to report better on it.
These were but some of the focus of discussions during the Jun. 4-6, 2013 media training workshop on ‘Reporting Climate Change and Rural Development’, which was held here in Indonesian capital. The workshop, the last of a series by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), was organised by IPS-Inter Press Service and Thomson Reuters Foundation.
A total of 13 journalists, a mix of men and women from print and TV organisations in South-east Asia and South Asia, took part in the workshop.
Hari Priyono, secretary general of Indonesia’s ministry of agriculture, opened the workshop by stressing the importance of telling stories about rural agriculture since majority of people live in rural in earn their livelihood from agriculture. “We face the double challenge of reducing carbon emissions while seeking to achieve high economic growth,” he explained. “Climate change can’t be avoided but (the challenge is) how to anticipate it and how to cope with it.”
Thematic discussions around climate change and rural agriculture made up most of the first day of the workshop, with the journalists listening to discussions by Rizaldi Boer of the Centre for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in South-east Asia and Pacific as well as a journalist’s point of view from IGG Maha Adi of the Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists.
Adi shared the results of information gathered from Indonesian journalists that showed that a number said they could do with more specific training about climate change, and its links to development, in order to report better on it.
As one of the journalists, Elita Karim from the ‘Daily Star’ in Bangladesh, said, “I don’t understand all of the terms. I have to google just about everything.”
Indeed, Rizaldi said that sometimes media reports reflect “confusing” use of terminology about climate change. “The problem is we have knowledge and science (on climate change useful to policymakers & farmers) but the media are not interested,” he pointed out.
But Zulkifli Zaini, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) liaison scientist for Indonesia, pointed out this is why good reporting by media is crucial – so that the right messages may be delivered to policymakers that need to understand climate change better help them decide what best adaptation strategies to take in terms of agriculture.
Dr. Kasdi Subagyono of the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development, as well as Dr Zulkifli Zaini, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) liaison scientist for Indonesia, gave concrete explanations about the impact of climate change on agriculture, including developments in rice technology to cope with this.
Ronald Hartman, IFAD country programme manager for Indonesia, said that the impact of climate change was often being felt faster in agricultural settings than the development of coping mechanisms for it. “Agriculture is where climate change, food security and agriculture dissect,” he stressed. “Climate change is a threat multiplier rather than an isolated risk.”
He also showed an IFAD film on Kiribati, whose president is preparing for greater sea-level rise and other environmental risks from climate change by planning to move his country’s population to neighbouring countries.
The second day of the workshop saw the group heading to a village in Subang, West Java, to interact with residents about how they carried on an IFAD-supported project for agricultural communities, where women now take part in efforts that diversified their income from agriculture to include jackfruit and other products.
Day 3 of the workshop was devoted to shaping stories on climate change and rural issues and designing story ideas, as well as doing group exercises on these.
IPS Asia-Pacific’s Johanna Son discussed the wider approach of reporting climate change “beyond beats”, bringing in linkages with development, science, health, business and other issues instead of being limited by viewing it as mainly an environment story.
Thomson Reuters’ Jeremy Laurence focused on practical discussions around how to throw a story forward, and to pitch stronger stories to editors of media organisations.
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