27.08.2004 -

Building Community Media Capacity for Environmental Stewardship

"Building Community Media Capacity for Environmental Stewardship" was the title of a workshop held in Nassau, The Bahamas 29-30 July last in a drive to reinforce public awareness and education on the recurrent theme of environmental preservation and stewardship in that Caribbean island-state.

Following a keynote address by the Attorney General and Minister of Education Alfred Sears, more than 50 journalists and media workers, students, educators and environmental advocates were motivated to ensuring that the important question of environmental conservation be enshrined as a basic right in the basic laws of the country. The Minister reminded journalists and educators, including the youth amongst them of the critical role they played in the dissemination of information, their classroom being the entire country. He reiterated the commitment of the Ministry of Education to helping wherever possible and extended an open invitation for the use of the Ministry's resources for this purpose.


Amongst the many presentations dealing with journalism, media, education and environment and sustainable development, was the relatively novel concept of community media in the Bahamian context and its fundamental role in engaging each and every citizens along the road to stewardship.


The workshop also included interactive sessions, "break-out" group discussions and a field trip to a Bahamas National Trust retreat. Under the expert guidance of leaders in this field in the Ministry and in the presence of UNESCO Executive Board member Davidson Hepburn an action plan was formulated by participants for promoting environmental issues and a working partnership was formed between media practitioners and environmental advocates with a view to bringing increased attention to environmental issues through more participatory activity and media coverage.


This activity was developed as a precursor to the official launch of two important events scheduled to take place in September 2004: (i) the IPDC project entitled "Building Community Media Capacity for Environmental Stewardship" whereby a template for public education is to be developed in three Family Islands, Exuma, Abaco and New Providence with heavy emphasis on community media, within the framework of UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and (ii) the Bahamas segment of the UNESCO interregional cross cutting project entitled "Small Islands Voice".


The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Education's Department of Education, Science and Technology with support from UNESCO and in collaboration with the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST); the Bahamas Information Services and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT).

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