Dr. Joyce Msuya - Deputy Executive Director- UN Environment

As resources continue to deplete, it is becoming apparent that more and more urgent attention should be paid to conservation of the environment and biodiversity.

At a recent meeting between editors and the United Nations environment programme (UNEP) the parties agreed to promote efforts in conservation of biodiversity through telling stories that would inspire people to adopt habits that promote protection of biodiversity.

Dr. Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment said good practices must be adopted going forward, especially after the COVID 19 pandemic.

“There is a direct link between nature, biodiversity water, lakes and well being of Africans. When we cut trees, we also have a choice to plant more trees or to keep on cutting,” she said.

Msuya gave her story of the link between biodiversity and prosperity while growing up in Tanzania.

“My own grandmother’s livelihood in the mountains of Kilimanjaro in Usangi area depended on soil, trees, coffee to feed my fathers generation. My father would go to school, and that provided enormous opportunity for us to be educated, “ she said

Adding that, “There is a reminder out of COVID 19 crisis, how the human health and environment are closely interlinked.”

Editors present urged UNEP to make their scientists more available to journalists to enable them synthesize the science for mass consumption. In the face of COVID 19, sectors have been hard hit, including the environment. It is a pandemic that has necessitated a lot of studies. UNEP is current taking a scientific study on the connection between zoonotic

UNEP is the largest UN entity in the Southern Hemisphere. Msuya said UNEP has always valued the partnership with key stakeholders. She urged journalists to play their role on citizen empowerment, as biodiversity particularly in Africa is at the core of poverty reduction and the core of human well being .

“As we look ahead to the UN Environment Assembly next year, the focus of nature at the global level, regional and county level is prominent

We want to build the biodiversity momentum the way climate change was a few years ago, which led to the Paris Agreement”

Dorothy Kweyu, a consulting editor and member of Kenya Editors’ Guild called for the need to tap into indigenous knowledge  for better coverage of the environment, “Indigenous knowledge is at the core of biodiversity,” she said.

Samuel Maina, the Editor- in Chief of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and Vice President of Kenya Editors’ Guild says better reportage of stories on environment will help them compete in the editorial agenda.

He called on journalists to go beyond the ordinary to add value to their stories through humanizing and in expert view.

The forum was held to interrogate the place of the media in communicating biodiversity. It sought to answer key questions: How do we strengthen the partnership we have? What should the partnership be and how should it benefit us as journalists?

Among the resolutions include: Capacity building through training journalists on specialized reporting of environmental stories, humanizing the reporting of environmental stories to resonate with the local audiences and collaboration between journalists and scientists in sharing scientific research to aid in reporting.

 

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