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Climate activists urge journalists to prioritise environment reporting

The Media Network Action on Climate Change (MENACC) is calling on journalists in Zambia and the southern African region to increase coverage of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental issues which it terms the “triple planetary crisis”, as the network joins others in commemorating World Press Freedom Day.

Drought in Southern Africa

In a statement issued on Thursday, May 2, MENACC Executive Coordinator, Kennedy Phiri, said the 2024 World Press Freedom Day theme “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis” is timely given the environmental challenges facing the region.

“We believe the theme could not have come at a better time as it has resonated well with the current situation facing Zambia and many other countries in the southern African region such as Malawi and Zimbabwe,” Phiri said.

The three nations are recovering from a deadly cholera pandemic and now grappling with a food crisis induced by drought linked to the El Niño weather pattern.

The drought has resulted in electricity and water shortages, crop failure threatening millions of people and livestock.

Phiri urged newsrooms to make climate change and environmental matters a daily priority like politics, business and sports because the crisis threatens gains in democracy, human rights and development.

The group backs calls for establishing specialised environment courts to expeditiously prosecute environmental crimes to protect biodiversity and ecosystems.

While demanding enhanced reporting, MENACC also urged government and non-state actors to create an enabling environment through policies and capacity-building initiatives to help journalists become adept science communicators.

“A press that is truly free from censorship alongside consistent community engagement and solutions-based journalism provides a major milestone in confronting the unfolding climate and environmental crisis worldwide,” the statement said.

By Winston Mwale, Editor-in-Chief, AfricaBrief

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