Environmental Journalism Lacks Capacity

ENVIRONMENTAL journalists in Namibia lag behind their counterparts from other African nations and this may be due to a lack of passion and proper training.

This was said by the chief of communications and corporate affairs for the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia, Lazarus Nafidi, at a two-day workshop on environmental journalism held at Walvis Bay last week.

Environmental Commissioner Theofilus Nghitila shared Nafidi’s sentiment, saying that local environmental journalists can only effectively and factually report on environmental matters if they understand the importance of the environment are aware of environment and of the challenges it faces and are familiar with international and national legal instruments concerning environmental conservation.

A group of journalists from various print and electronic organisations participated in the workshop, specifically dealing with marine and coastal conservation reporting.

Well-known Namibian environmental journalist Absalom Shigwedha facilitated the workshop and emphasised the importance of international conventions and legislation around environmental issues that affect most countries around the world. He said that knowledge of such conventions by environmental journalists was a foundation in reporting on environmental issues – especially those conventions to which Namibia is party.

This would not only allow for more accurate reporting, but also give reporters a knowledgeable position as watchdogs for environmental management in the country, as well as environmental ambassadors who educate citizens about pressing environmental issues that affect the nation at grassroots level.

Shigwedha made specific reference to the Abidjan Convention that covers the marine environment, coastal zones and related inland waters falling within the jurisdiction of the states of the west and central African region, from Mauritania to Namibia.

The convention is a comprehensive umbrella agreement for the protection and management of the marine and coastal areas. It lists the sources of pollution that require control: ships, dumping, land-based activities, exploration and exploitation of the seabed, and pollution from or through the atmosphere.

It also identifies environmental management issues from which cooperative efforts are to be made: coastal erosion, specially protected areas, combating pollution in cases of emergency and environmental impact assessment.

Coordinator of the Namibia Coast Conservation and Management Project (Nacoma) Rod Braby also shared his passion for conservation and serious environmental issues and explained that a holistic mindset was required to counter the ultimate destruction of the planet. He said the environmental journalist can play a big role in creating awareness about major issues in a national context.

Globally, marine and coastal areas are under increasing pressure due to the expansion of different land uses, such as commercial fisheries, tourism, real estate development and oil exploration.

Namibia’s marine and coastal environment is also facing the challenge of increasing the development of tourism facilities and recreational activities, which poses a threat to the biodiversity, as it destroys natural habitats.

A variety of presentations were given as well as a short tour of the ‘Bird Paradise’ wetland just east of Walvis Bay.

Journalists agreed that the workshop made them more aware of environmental issues around them and the different angles from which stories could be approached to ultimately have a positive impact on local environmental management.

Source : The Namibian