Getting the Message Across: Telling the Story of Climate Change in Indonesia

How can journalists write better stories to report on the impact of climate change to local communities in Indonesia? This question was one of many posed by journalists at the workshop on Climate Change Reporting organized by United Nations Information Centre in Indonesia (UNIC), UNESCO Office in Jakarta, and Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists (SIEJ) on 22 and 23 August 2019.

Fifteen journalists from various media outlets coming from Jakarta, Palu, Padang, Madura, Papua, Makassar, Malang, and Riau benefited from this training to learn and exchange their views with climate change and environmental experts.

UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia, Ms Anita Nirody, in her opening remarks reiterated the importance of serious impact of climate change influenced by the increase of poverty, food security issue, access to clean water and environmental destruction. She also highlighted that climate change is a serious and real threat in our times. The Director and Representative of UNESCO Office Jakarta, Dr Shahbaz Khan, who presented his insight on the impact of climate change, also highlighted the crucial function of the press in ensuring the public is aware of the issue.

Facilitated by two senior journalists from SIEJ, Mr Harry Surjadi and Mr Aditya Wardhana, the participants were encouraged to explore the essential issues surrounding climate change, why media coverage matters, and what is missing from the media coverage in Asia Pacific region. The session was resumed with the exploration of challenges and problems in depth we face in global climate change as well as what problems that climate change create in environmental, health, agriculture, economic, as well as peace and conflict perspective. Participants are acquainted with the possible solutions to climate change including the actions taken by the United Nations in Indonesia. The session about telling better stories in covering the issues and helping public to understand the complex issue is the last closed the series of discussion on the first day.

Participants also tried out the brand new online course “Climate Change: A Guidance of Journalists”  that has also been adopted into Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) as a collaborative project between UNESCO Office in Jakarta and Tempo Institute. The online course is available both in English and Indonesian and free to use. Practicing journalists, editors, and anyone reporting climate change in the Asia Pacific will find the online course essential addition to their story telling toolbox.

The course is based on the UNESCO Handbook entitled Getting the Message Across: Climate Change Reporting for Journalists in Asia and the Pacific. This handbook is part of UNESCO’s International Programme for Development of Communication’s Series on Journalism Education. The series aims to reinforce the capacities of journalists to promote sustainable development by enhancing the abilities of journalists to report on science, development, and democratic governance.

Journalists at the workshop were also given a chance to pitch their stories in reporting climate change on the second day of the workshop. From reducing carbon footprint in Jakarta to sustainable apple farming in Malang, stories were curated by the journalists to raise awareness of climate change. Ten journalists were selected for a small grant provided by UNIC to develop climate change stories on the issue that matters the most to them.