Media and Climate Change in the Pacific

Although the Pacific is on the front line of global warming, climate change remains a new and complex topic for many journalists and media organisations in Pacific island countries.

With the effects of climate change already having impacts on the daily lives of Pacific islanders, the media has a significant role to play in raising public awareness and with it, the ability to influence policies and encourage policymakers to act.

However, this requires journalists to have detailed knowledge of the science behind climate change, the state of international climate negotiations, and many complex issues such as climate finance and loss and damage. In the Pacific, far too few journalists have the training, connections and resources to meet the challenge of informing local communities and policy makers about relevant climate change-related issues.

With these challenges in mind, a group of ten Pacific island journalists who travelled to COP23 in Bonn, Germany, last November chose to form the Pacific Environment Journalists Network (PEJN) to improve the regional media’s capacity to report on climate change.

The network, which is supported by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN), was formally launched in Tonga in May and with the support of EJN, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the COP23 Presidency, the network participated in a media workshop in Fiji on the eve of the Climate Action Pacific Partnership Event.

The workshop — “Strengthening Media Capacity on Climate Change Reporting in the Pacific Islands” — aimed to improve the capacity of journalists to report more accurately and more frequently on climate change.

30 participants, made up of the journalists from the PEJN as well as other communications professionals from the region, participated in the workshop before attending the CAPP Conference.

The workshop included a field trip to the Korova Settlement area, where Moce islanders have been resettled. They are some of Fiji’s first climate migrants after they had to leave their island in Lau Group due to rising seas.

The workshop has resulted in around 40 stories (print, TV, radio and online) by the participants, which will be reposted on the EJN’s websites (infopacific.org and earthjournalism.net).

Some of the participants are also writing blog posts about the workshop and CAPP event, and others are producing a short EJN video on their experience.