By Odhiambo David| email@example.com
Journalists who will cover the next UN Conference on Climate Change fondly referred to as COP28 with support from Media for Environment, Science, Health, and Agriculture (MESHA) will today begin the fellowship by attending the first media science café virtually.
Two more cafes will follow as the association kicks a series of trainings and coaching aimed at preparing them for coverage of the conference. Already each of the 12 journalists have been paired with a mentor to help them separate the wheat from the chaff in reporting climate change.
The grantees are drawn from the eastern and southern parts of Africa.
According to the program, the first presentation will be delivered by Ms. Patricia Nyinguro, a climate scientist from the Kenya Meteorological Department, who will provide insights into the global and African perspectives, addressing the question of “What’s at stake for Africa and the world at UN Conference of Parties 28 (COP28)?“
Dr. Fadhel Kaboub, an expert in Climate Finance and Development policies, will delve into essential issues that African journalists should emphasise on as they prepare for COP28, focusing on “Key focus areas for Africans at COP28: Priorities for African Journalists in the Run-up to the Conference Post the Nairobi Declaration.“
Zeynab Wandati, Science Editor at Nation Media Group who is in charge of sustainability will take the journalists through valuable guidance on effectively framing climate change in preparation for COP28, under the theme “Framing Climate Change for African Journalists: Preparing for COP28 After the African Climate Summit.“
The initiative is funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC), with an overall objective of supporting the implementation of the Centre’s knowledge-sharing plans for climate change to strengthen the capacity of African science journalists, enabling them to report on COP28 comprehensively.
The coverage of the conference will include news articles and feature pieces accessible to civil society organisations, the policy community, and the general public.
Through this project, MESHA aims to amplify African voices in the context of COP28. It will prioritize concerns related to gender equality, inclusion, and social justice.
Additionally, the initiative seeks to bolster the capabilities of African science journalists, ensuring that climate change is covered with a distinct African perspective.
It also strives to facilitate partnerships between climate change experts, the media, and various stakeholders to effectively communicate the climate-related challenges facing Africa.
Aghan Daniel, Secretary of MESHA, talked of the complexity of COP meetings, stating, “The COP is usually a very large and complicated event with numerous issues. Therefore, it makes sense that the journalists tasked with covering it are adequately prepared and trained for the work ahead.”
“For this reason, we have organised three science cafes that will guide journalists through the complexity of climate discussions and equip them with the skills necessary to competently cover such significant conferences,” he added.
This is the second cohort selected by the association to cover a COP event. In 2022, MESHA supported 17 journalists in covering COP27 in Egypt with support from IDRC. The initiative resulted in the production of more than 130 stories.
Of the twelve selected journalists, seven (three women and four men) will travel to Dubai, the host city of COP 28. The remaining five (three women and two men) will provide virtual coverage of the event from their home countries.
Among those traveling to Dubai from Kenya are Francis Mureithi and Susan Ndunda from the Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services Ltd, respectively. Other representatives hail from different countries, including Lameez Omarjee of News24 in South Africa, Michel Nkurunziza from The New Times in Rwanda, Baboki Kayawe from Botswana (freelancer), Farai Shawn Matiashe from Zimbabwe (freelancer), and Prosper Heri Ngorora from Radio and TV Tayna in Goma, the DRC.
Virtual correspondents include Zanji Valerie Sinkala from Zambia (freelancer), Halili Letea from Mwananchi Communications Ltd in Tanzania, Milliam Murigi of the People Daily in Kenya, John Okot from Uganda (freelancer), and Aveline Kitomary from Standard Newspaper in Tanzania.
COP28 is happening in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023. These conferences since COP21 in 2015 have been about implementing the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming, adapt to climate change, and manage funds for greener development.
Last year, the network sponsored 17 journalists who covered the conference from home and virtually. Among those who travelled to Egypt to cover the event were Aimable Twahirwa (Rwanda); Jennifa Gilla (Tanzania); Agatha Ngotho (Kenya) and Violet Nakamba (Zambia). Others were Busani Bafana (Zimbabwe) and Francis Mureithi (Kenya).
The virtual attendees included Mekonnen Teshome (Ethiopia), Eve Ruwoko (Zimbabwe), Espoir Iradukunda (Burundi), Georgia Chirombo (Malawi), Irene Shone (Botswana), Caroline Engela Duvenage (South Africa), Liapeng Raliengoane (Lesotho), Vitarimeva Karina Zarazafy (Madagascar) and Sandra Laporte (Seychelles).
The Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture(MESHA) is an association of journalists and communicators who are specialized in environmental, agriculture, health, technology and development reporting. It is a non-partisan and not for profit making organization which has been in existence since October 2005.