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Nuku’alofa – November 28, 2019: 6pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Regional media and communication officers have called for urgent action to be taken at the upcoming COP25 in Madrid, Spain to address climate change in the Pasifika.

COP25 will start in Madrid from next week, with world leaders gathering to discuss the Paris Agreement and what needs to be done in regards to the 1.5% challenge.

Senior media reps from the region joined communication officers from governments across the region on the call during a Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) workshop for media and communication officers in Suva on November 19-21.

The workshop was organised and funded by the German Development Cooperation or GIZ with the Pacific NDC Hub.

Senior Fijian and regional journalist Netani Rika told donors, partners and participants at the event that “it is time to flip the script”.

“Business as usual is not working and we don’t have time left for discussions,” Mr Rika said.

“Our islands are sinking and carbon emission continues to increase. The world is getting hotter daily and we are suffering.

“The call from the media is for action to be taken now. How many more meetings are we going to have before we realise that we are already late.”

Senior Fiji Times journalist John Mitchell said the Pacific is paying the price for someone else’s fault.

“The Fijian idiom which says “dui seva ga na bua ka tea” or you reap what you sow is no longer true for the Pacific as we did not cause all this problems but we are paying the price for everyone else’s doing,” he added.

The call to save our ocean was re-echoed by Palau-based journalist Bernadette Carreon, who said the Pacific relies on the Ocean and her resources for our livelihood.

“We must fight to stop carbon emission and reduce that to 1.5% because we are losing our corals from the ocean heating and our marine resources are beginning to dwindle,” she added.

Regional journalists have also come together to form the Pacific Environment Journalists Network because they saw the need to tell the Pasifika story as “Pacific voices”.

The network, with its office in Tonga, is working with CROP agencies and funders to help regional environment journalists better understand environment issues in general and climate issues – which are critical challenges in the Pacific.

GIZ senior manager and lead facilitator Chrsitine Fung helped the media and communication officers in understanding NDCs and the process bow being taken.

GIZ’s Christine Fund explaining the NDCs and its importance to media and communication officers in Suva

“NDCs are critical in implementing the Paris Agreement,” she said. “Without the NDCs the agreement will fail.”

She also stated that with the current trend of emission the world will not be able to sustain itself.

Regional Non Government Organisation OXFAM believes more work is needed on the financing side of the climate issue so that communities can be better prepared and assisted.

Climate Financing Advisor Jale Samuwai said most countries are not “effectively using the climate finances they are getting” as many in the grassroots across the Pacific are still suffering.

OXFAM’s Jale Samuwai sharing some points at the NDCs meeting

He said it was for the media to hold governments accountable and demand transparency.

“We read alot about the millions that are coming in but where are they going because the people who are supposed to be receiving the assistance and getting the funds to help them are not receiving that,” he added.

Mr Samuwai said it would be interesting to see what comes out of the COP25 climate finance discussions and negotiations.

A major disappointment noted by the regional media at the NDCs meet was the fact that CROP agencies in the region like the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), who are the lead in climate change and environment issues in the Paciic, were not sending any regional journalist to the COP25.

Senior regional journalist Lisa Williams of the PEJN and Pacific Media Network said this was disappointing as the Pacific would miss out on the opportunity.

Senior regional journalist Lisa Williams calling for the media to be considered as partners at the NDCs meet

She has called on governments and CROP agencies in the region to ensure that they have funding allocated for COP meetings for the media and regional journalists.

“That is important so that we are able to get stories out to our people in the region on what is happening, in our own languages and lingos that people understand better because these meetings are important,” she said.

“That must be a priority.”

GIZ has since agreed to fund a regionall journalist for the COP25 meeting while THailand based Internews have also made some selection on journalists from Asia and the Pacific to attend the event.

SPREP Communication Manager Nanette Wontoon said they had planned media spots for the COP25 in Chile but the budget was blown out of propotion with the change of venue to Madrid.


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