Relevance of environmental journalism in today's world
Source: Dispatch-54, Date: , 2019
Mr. Arjun Dhakal has more than eighteen
years of experience in the environmental and development sector. Throughout his
professional career and academic background, he always concentrated in the
areas of advocacy and research on Green growth and governance, public participation,
natural resource conservation, energy, climate change adaptation, environmental
health etc. He has been working with interest in interdisciplinary issues of
scientific and policy-related territory. Currently, he is working as a senior
environmental expert with SEEPORT based in Kathmandu and is also involved in
different social and environmental assignments. He is the convener/moderator of
Nepal Network for Sustainable Development (NNSD) since 2006, a well-recognized
policy forum, where about 4000 people have been engaged in policy discourse
from different fields including politicians, policy makers, diplomats, media
and academicians. In the past, he has also worked as a consultant with various
organizations like UNDP,UNEP, UNESCO, World Bank, IUCN, Asian Development Bank
(ADB), SDC/SECO, IIED and Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) Bangkok. He was
also the Executive Director of NGO Federation of Nepal and Executive Director
of Rural Self-Reliance Development Centre (RSDC).In an e-mail interview with Toxics
Link's Ipsita Baishya he talks about the role of environmental journalism in
promoting public awareness and engaging policymakers for a greener tomorrow.
Q1.How relevant is Environmental journalism
in today's world?
I think the role of environmental journalism or communication has been
increasing more now than ever before. The air we breathe is polluted, the water
we drink is contaminated, the food that we eat has more pesticides and is
toxic, disasters and their vulnerability have been increasing, we produce more
waste than Nature’s carrying capacity. At this stage of emergency, only media
and journalists can help in informing the general public about the
environmental degradation and influence policy makers and business communities
to work towards protecting the environment before it's too late.
Q2. What is the role of the media in
important of course! It is only the media that can help build public opinion to
influence policy makers and can play a crucial role in pushing for
pro-environmental policies. For example, if environmental journalists make
evidence-based stories on how our surroundings are getting polluted day in and
day out and the ones causing it
irreversible damage, that really creates pressure on the policymakers to
think about public life and makes it imperative for them to adopt
environment-friendly policies. At the same time, the media can act as a link
between the policymakers and the conscientious public and facilitate two-way
communications too. This kind of vertical and horizontal communication
inevitably makes them more responsible and accountable.
Q3. How can we promote environmental
fact and evidence-based information by all media channels is critical. This is
not so easy always; but we need to have regular dialogues and communication
with the scientific community and link them with social problems. In another
way, regular society-policy-science dialogues helps to develop awareness at all
levels. Technologically, we need to use all available mainstream media and
social media to engage all interest groups and communities. Just take an
example-conventional media is still effective for policy makers of the older
generation and new age media like YouTube, Instagram etc are more efficacious
for the younger generation, which are mostly consumers and voter groups. The
new challenge for a toxic-free world is that all that we get today as consumers
is from the farm to the table and factory to pocket. The issues are
multi-dimensional and everywhere nowadays demand and supply cater to wide
varieties with high volumes. Therefore, the awareness strategy also should be a
multi-pronged one at the global level as well as the local level.
Q4. Your take on IPEN's vision of a
toxics-free future for the South Asian region?
Asia is the home to half of the world's impoverished people and half of the
world's illiterate population reside here too. So we have huge challenges for a
toxic- free south Asia now. But for a better future, we have some underlying
opportunities and advantages as well in that half of the population is under 25
years of age and this is the largest democratic region of the world. Therefore,
we need to work hard to create awareness towards environmental protection amongst
politicians; policy makers and the general public together to bring the dream
come true. Only challenge for us is that we need to be more innovative.
Q5. What do you think are the big challenges
for environmental coverage?
lack of data and evidence! We know the
science but we need facts and figures to convince people to join the bandwagon.
We need powerful stories to share with people. Secondly, the market force. The
producer/polluters are much powerful to control and manipulate the media and
often they are hand in glove. It is always difficult to get easy coverage in
mainstream media on environmental issues which normally reports against
indiscriminate profit-making business entities or manufacturers and dealers.