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How should we report about climate change and REDD+?

Local journalists are facing challenges in covering climate change due to insufficient knowledge and limited access to relevant information, network and hands-on experience.

– Media plays a critical role not only in presenting hard news issues such as illegal logging and other forest-related crimes or events, but to also act as an agent of change by providing in-depth coverage to make people understand climate change, forestry and REDD+ issues more comprehensively, said Mr. Petrus Suryadi of Dr. Soetomo Press Institute.

– How can a journalist stay objective when their employer has a close relationship with companies that violate environmental regulations?

– How can journalists cover environmental issues if they are given very limited opportunity for field visits?

– How can journalists get information on gender and climate change?

These are only some of the questions from enthusiastic participants during a two day workshop held in Pekanbaru, Riau province, 25-26 September.

Session about climate change reporting

– Ministry of Forestry has built continuous communication with media on climate change and REDD+ related issues, but most journalists still find it challenging to understand the technical jargon which in turn discourage them from covering the issues. The workshop can help to build local journalists’ capacity, said Dr. Niken Sakuntaladewi, of the Forestry Research and Development Agency (FORDA), Ministry of Forestry.

The workshop in Riau is one of a series of similar workshops organized by Dr. Soetomo Press Institute for local journalists in Palangkaraya (Central Kalimantan), Pontianak (West Kalimantan), Samarinda (East Kalimantan), Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan), Medan (South Sumatera), Pekanbaru (Riau), Jambi (Jambi), Jayapura (Papua), Palembang (South Sumatera), and Batam (Riau Island). The workshops run from January 2012 through January 2013 and are supported by a grant from the Norwegian Embassy.

Training participants represent newspaper, radio, TV and on-line media

Riau is one of the priority provinces for REDD+ because it has 4,04 Mha peatland area or more than half of the whole peatland area in Sumatera Island.  At the same time it is also severely threatened by annual fire and land use change for palm oil, pulpwood, and other plantations. Managing peatland is one of the main programs in the province’s strategy to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation- REDD+. As part of the Letter of Intent agreement with Norway on REDD+, Indonesia is expected to deliver some key milestones by the end of 2012. Media at the national and local levels can play an active role in informing the public about the progress and promote buy-in to the initiatives. But that will only be possible when journalists have good knowledge and understanding about the issues.