LAHORE: Pakistan is ranked the 8th most vulnerable country in the world to the risks and associated costs of climate change, yet the issue receives relatively little attention in the national media.
Moreover, climate change tends to be reported as a standalone issue, often overlooking its impact on agriculture (23% of GDP), the private sector, health and security and the opportunities for ‘green growth’.
A seminar was held in Lahore to intensively build media skills on reporting on climate change finance in Pakistan.In the seminar, a CPNE and UNDP handbook, Climate Smart Reporting: A handbook for journalists and communication professionals, was launched. The guidebook launch was under an initiative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) called Strengthening the Governance of Climate Change Finance. Under this programme, the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) is providing editors and journalists in Pakistan with the tools and support to mainstream climate change issues and finance into everyday reporting of economic, social and other issues in the country.
Dr Jabbar Khattak, Chairman Project and Programme of CPNE, said “the media in Pakistan has a central role to play when it comes to information on climate change finance- that’s why it is so important to gather journalists and editors together to discuss issues that are going to become increasingly prominent and the way the media should respond to them. With a healthy, robust media you have a group that can play a role as an educator, an early warning system, a form of dialogue between government and the population, and a way to make clear where public funds are going and who they are designed to help.”
Speaking at the event Mr Keith Conlon, a UK-based journalist and consultant, highlighted that climate change is having a big impact on health, agriculture, industry, cost of living and security.
Mr Glenn Hodes, Climate Policy & Finance Specialist of UNDP shared that world leaders and top businesses recognise climate change as major economic and social risk. He said the businesses are seizing green opportunities, and the once left behind are paying the price for not being green. He also said “Pakistan’s poverty rate may be declining and the country is working towards achieving development goals set out by Agenda 2030, but big challenges, such as climate change, threaten to undermine decades of development progress”.
On the note of planning and budgeting of public finance, Asad Abas Maken, Public Finance Expert of UNDP informed the participants about the significant costs being paid for the climate change impacts. He counted several impacts such as lower agriculture yield, hunger, malnourishment, shortage of drinking water, food insecurity, poverty and human displacement as potential topics which journalists could focus during their reporting. He appreciated the government for undertaking different policy level initiatives which could help to track the expenditure on climate change financing framework.
Several editors, journalists and media persons attended the seminar. On this occasion, Shaheen Qureshi, Senior Vice-President CPNE focused on the smaller actions which individuals can do to create bigger impact for the protection of climate. He highlighted the need of effective and efficient reporting on the subject for bringing awareness and sensitisation among the masses. Rehmat Ali Ghazi, Vice-President Punjab CPNE, thanked all the participants and ensured continued support from the CPNE’s platform to national and international organisations for matter of public interest.