Opening Ceremony of the Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Workshop for Journalists
Date: 22 February 2021
Location: New Brookfields Hotel, Freetown
Tom Vens, EU Ambassador
Check Against Delivery
On behalf of the European Union, I am delighted to join you today at the start of this five-day training on climate change and envrironmental reporting for media practitioners. Always a great pleasure to speak to local journalists.
Climate change is considered as “the biggest threat to the planet at the present moment, and the defining issue of our time”. According to reports, Sierra Leone is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. National development planning is increasingly taking this reality into account, but it is also urgent to address social awareness.
The role of the media and journalists is crucial in this subject. In the digital era, the explosion of climate change-related stories and information across different communities in Sierra Leone, the region and the world demands a higher level of media literacy. Ethical journalism, based on critical thinking and the principle of independence, is essential to help societies to meet this challenge.
Crucial to have media onboard, and that you follow carefully and report on what is happening in these areas – this is the future and you will help bring Sierra Leone to the future. No one can deny the fact that media plays a critical role in the development of our societies particularly as it acts as the interface through which societies receive and understand information and knowledge.
With this workshop, you, the media, can learn about the subject of climate change, how the Sierra Leone environment is managed and report effectively, with knowledge and understanding of the various issues, some of which can otherwise be too technical for ordinary people to understand.
And why do we need this understanding of Environment and Climate Change?
Well, the EU, like the Government of Sierra Leone, and probably all of you, recognises that climate change has a dramatic effect on the natural environments, plants and animals, leading to acceleration in biodiversity loss in some areas. The impacts are already having knock-on effects for many local communities and sectors that depend on natural resources, including agriculture, fisheries, energy, tourism and water.
The media needs to be forward-looking and play an active role in informing the public in advance about Sierra Leone’s preparedness for these issues as well as during and after disasters. You as journalists need to constantly communicate with State institutions, scientists to disseminate reports to the public.
In this regard, the European Union has supported The Economic Forum (TEF) to conduct an exciting and participatory training.
I therefore encourage you the participants to take seriously, what you will be learning from this training, take everything you already knew before this training, and take your unyielding commitment to journalistic integrity and professionalism – and apply all these things to doing your jobs to the best of your ability.
Remember to also take the public along with you on this journey, and explain to them what you are doing to earn and justify their trust.
We are always working on new programs and opportunities to support Sierra Leone, so I invite you to reach out to me or my team at the EU Delegation if you have ideas for how we can do that.
Thank you again for your participation in this training, and for your commitment to your noble and indispensable profession.
I wish you every success.