CALL FOR GREATER SUPPORT FOR MEDIA COVERAGE OF BIODIVERSITY ISSUES – IUCN, IIED and Internews Launch Biodiversity Media Alliance
Journalists need more training and greater access to sources and information if they are to effectively tell an under-reported story– the silent decline in the planet’s biological resources. This story has profound implications for livelihoods, health and businesses the world over.
So say media specialists at IUCN, IIED and Internews who will formally launch their Biodiversity Media Alliance (BMA) during the conference of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity on 27 October in Nagoya, Japan.
“The declining status of the Earth’s natural riches threatens to undermine the future prospects of all people but so far this story has gone unreported, and outside of professional circles very few people are even aware of what is at stake,” says Mike Shanahan of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
The BMA partners will work together to support journalists in developing countries to report on the world’s biodiversity, what its decline means for humanity, and how it can be tackled.
“Journalists generally consider biodiversity loss to be a less urgent issue than climate change or the economy,” says Alison Coleman, IUCN Regional Communications Officer. “The media needs to do a better job of explaining its importance to economies, livelihoods and people’s health. This will be critical to the achievement of the targets in the new strategic plan that 193 governments are due to adopt in Nagoya.”
Already the alliance has created an online social network: http://biodiversitymedia.ning.com where hundreds of journalists and biodiversity experts can interact. It aims to develop training activities to ensure that journalists can tell the story of biodiversity in ways that are relevant to their audiences.
“Media capacity building programs on climate change have led to a significant increase in public awareness of this issue, but so far donors have not treated biodiversity as enough of a priority,” says James Fahn, executive director of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network. “When supported, media coverage of biodiversity has had a direct impact on policies – such as when Vietnamese journalists helped protect Tam Dao National Park and uncovered a wildlife smuggling ring.”
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) new strategic plan, to be adopted in Nagoya, includes 20 targets to be achieved by 2020 or sooner to limit the loss of biodiversity and ensure that natural resources are used fairly and sustainably.
“Target 1 of the CBD’s new strategy states that, by 2020 at the latest, all people should be aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably,” says Shanahan. “Journalists have a vital role to play in making sure that happens, and the Biodiversity Media Alliance aims to help them do that.”