Climate change presents an enormous challenge to the African continent and though it is the region least responsible for climate change, scientists and analysts say that we as African people will suffer the most from climate change. This is due to the fact that we heavily depend on natural resources for food security, tourism and provision of firewood for energy; 600 million people still do not have access to electricity thus they heavily rely on firewood for cooking and lighting. All these factors pose a threat on the survival of the already vulnerable populations.
African corporations, governments, organizations and the media fraternity all need to come together and get more and more involved in the conversation of how to overcome these challenges brought about by climate change. We need to work as a team in order to get Africans involved in the changes taking place in regards to sustainable development and climate change policies, and journalists play an important role in bridging this policy-action gap.
Africa’s premier environmental and climate change program, the African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Awards (ACCER Awards) that are run and founded by the pan African climate change justice alliance (PACJA) seeks to motivate journalists and media houses in Africa to effectively report impactful coverage of environmental issues in Africa.
The official launch of the 2016 ACCER Awards that took place yesterday will cover a period of 7 weeks between the period of 8th March and 26th April 2016. Journalists and other media practitioners from across the continent will submit entries that demonstrate how their work has ready access to environmental information and also to illuminate best practice approaches both in policy and in practice towards climate change response and strategies.
Secretary General to PACJA, Mithika Mwenda said, “By bringing climate change and environmental stories to the forefront of public perception, journalists play a key role – they serve as watchdogs of our environment. They bring inspiration and fresh ideas on environmental protection to the public. They also play an important educational role by presenting complex scientific and technical environmental issues in a simple format understandable by the public. For these reasons we must recognize them”.
In most of the news stories that are featured and aired on television, radio or even in the print media, it is very hard for one to find news on the environment or the issue of climate change making the headlines. Meanwhile, the ozone layer is rapidly being depleted because of the excessive use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), forest cover is vanishing at an unbelievable rate, rainy seasons are getting shorter and shorter and the world’s resources cannot even sustain the current population let alone future generations. There is an urgent need to tell these stories to the public before it becomes too late to reverse what mankind has already done.
Zainab Wandati, 2nd ACCER Awards winner in the broadcast category had the opportunity to share her experience in the training program at the ACCER Awards Finalists Academy (TAAFA). She expressed how much it was an eye opener in terms of stories that revolve round the environment and its conservation. People need to be demystified about climate change. Media houses need to put less focus on societal issues such as politics, focus more time and energy in sensitizing both the public and the media fraternity on environmental issues to become agents of climate change. She said, “It’s very unfortunate that some editors can not publish stories on climate change or one stories pertaining to environmental issues just because it is considered white people propaganda.”
ACCER Awards will be open to journalists working in any medium. Submissions for the awards are being made via the entry form website www.accreawards.com where one can also find details of the various categories. After the online submission, process finalists will be announced at the sidelines of the United Nations Environmental Embassy (UNEA) which will take place on 23rd-27th may in Nairobi. They will also be enrolled in their training program, the ACCER Awards Finalist Academy (TAAFA). Winners will be unveiled at the Gala night on the World Environment Day, 5th June in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The following are the ACCER Awards categories:
• Environmental Journalist of the Year Award
• Emerging Young Journalist
• Photographer of the Year
• ACCER Blogger
• Documentary of the Year
• Environmental story of the year
• Francophone Journalist of the Year
• Unique angle of the year