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PROJECT: Building climate change awareness in the South Asian media


Project Reference: KMAS-0003

With CDKN’s support, Panos South Asia, Panos and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) launched the South Asia Climate Change Award (SACCA) Fellows Programme to improve media coverage and public debate around climate and development in South Asia.

The project aimed to strengthen the capacity and understanding of the ‘news makers’ themselves; among its goals were:

  • Increased capacity of selected mainstream journalists in South Asia to produce a greater quality and volume of reporting on climate change, with an emphasis on diverse stakeholder perspectives and ‘stories from the ground up’;
  • Raised capacity of news editors and producers – the ‘agenda setters’ – to support climate change reporting in their outlets.

By enhancing journalists’ capacity and editors’ understanding, the project ultimately improved coverage of climate change and so increased public awareness and debate on these issues. With time, strengthened media coverage will, in turn, provide a more fertile environment for the policy-making and practice of climate compatible development.

Over 45 journalists from six South Asian countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, were selected to participate in the SACCA Fellows’ Programme (2012-13 and 2013-14).

Each of the fellowship cycles began with a training workshop and field trip, where experts on climate change and media interacted with the journalists.

Fellows met to compare experiences with framing media stories on climate issues, and to learn of the latest advances in climate science and political developments from the experts. You can read a blog from CDKN’s Mairi Dupar from the 2012 training workshop about the gender and climate elements of their discussions on the CDKN website.

In 2012 the workshop was preceded by a two-day editors’ retreat at which influential editors from around South Asia region met with the journalists to share their perspectives on what would make a climate story suitable for the ‘front page treatment’. Elizabeth Colebourn of CDKN describes the heated debates about what does and doesn’t make a popular climate change story in her blog.

Each Fellow received a grant to enable him/her to travel for fieldwork and interviews to witness climate change impacts and climate solutions. These funds enabled the Fellows to create more far-reaching, investigative pieces than they could normally afford to do. Each participant produced at least 10 pieces of climate-related coverage as a result of the one-year programme. In total, the programme resulted in over 500 stories.

The Fellows’ work ranged from TV and radio broadcast pieces, to print articles – many of which cross over from conventional media to online and new media. Many of the Fellows produced coverage in their own languages, and nearly 60 media outlets covered the stories.

From all the stories produced, an expert panel judged the results of the Fellows’ efforts and awarded two prestigious Media Excellence Awards. The winners were Subhra Priyadarshini and Amantha Perera who were recognised for their contribution to climate change reporting in their respective country, India and Sri Lanka

An online platform – the Panos South Asia Climate Change Blog at http://climatechange.panossouthasia.org – was specially created for sharing their stories amongst the group and also with the outside world. The blog has had more than 550,000 visitors since the time it was set up in October 2012.

Read the full Impact Assessment Report for the project to learn more about the types of stories the fellows have written.

CDKN funding: £250,000

Project Manager: Elizabeth Gogoi

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