Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

Media Seminars on Coastal Issues

By Sankey Programme specialist for Environmental Sciences

The Coasts and Small Islands programme in the Office is working on the role of communication and education in sustainable coastal development How can school children learn about the coasts and how they can be used wisely? What training do coastal development specialists need and how can it be provided? Is the media listening to the different actors in coastal development? A workshop was held on this topic at the Pan African Conference on Sustainable Integrated Coastal Management in Maputo Mozambique in July 1998. The workshop recommendations for action in the fields of Education, Communication, to form the starting point for action. For a copy of the Workshop Proceedings (CSI info. 7) please email: csi@unesco.org. (Stop press: Proceedings now available in French as well as in English). For 2000-2001, activities are being focused on the island states and territories of the Indian Ocean, as a follow-up to the 'Forum UNESCO 2000 for the Indian Ocean', held in Mauritius in March 1999.

The Maputo workshop recommended training of media professionals on coastal issues and building up participatory communication between them and other stakeholders concerned with coastal development Points of contact between government information officers and coastal managers in concerned ministries and the media are important.

To implement these recommendations, a series of national media seminars on coastal issues are being held in the Indian Ocean island states to provide an in-depth briefing on issues affecting sustainable coastal development. The seminars give background facts on the state and vulnerability of the coastal environment Interactive sessions focus on the different stakeholders in coastal development and how the media can communicate with them. Representatives of government, business, NGOs and the civil society are invited.

The first seminar "What Future for our Coasts" was held in Port Louis, Mauritius, on 25 November 1999 in collaboration with the Media Trust Thirty participants, who were roughly half journalists and half environmentalists from government, NGOs and civil society, the private sector and UNDP spent the day working together. New links were forged between the young journalists and government information sources present Key conclusions were the need to gain support of managing editors for this type of interactive training and the need to provide basic background information that journalists can easily access and understand. UNESCO will investigate possible means to create and disseminate this type of information resource. The evaluation of the seminar by participants was largely positive.

On 27 May 2000 it was the turn of Seychelles. The seminar "Our Coasts Today and Tomorrow" took place in Victoria, organized in collaboration with the Seychelles Press Association and the Seychelles National Commission for UNESCO. About fifteen journalists attended the seminar. This was an excellent attendance for a small media community. Unfortunately Mr Waldemar Tilly, one of the planned speakers and a noted environmentalist in Seychelles, passed away unexpectedly two days earlier and many of our other environmental speakers were forced to withdraw at the last moment in order to attend his funeral. Despite this setback, there were lively presentations and discussions and the seminar received prominent radio and television coverage. As in Mauritius, journalists stressed the need for more openness on environmental matters from government and other sources. The media should help themselves by being more persistent and by training some journalists to specialize on the environment, both for writing specific environmental articles and for covering the environmental dimension of major stories. A media award for the best environmental journalist was suggested. UNESCO will look at ideas for training put forward by the journalists who were present.

The next seminar in the series is planned for the Comoros Island.

Source: page 23 in UNESCO-Nairobi Office Bulletin, January-June 2000, Vol.35, No. 1.

See other articles related to the UNESCO pilot project on 'Development-conservation strategies for integrated coastal management in Maputaland (South Africa, Mozambique)'






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