My APJC Training Experience

APJC Fellows with The Age Senior Environment Journalist Adam Morton at the University of Tasmania

The Climate Change Reporting Fellowship carried out by the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre, APJC, in Melbourne and Hobart in the last five weeks have been a fruitful and informative one for me as a pacific journalist. It was also a memorable trip with visits to some of Australia’s famous locations such as the Mona Museum and Port Arthur in Tasmania.

I also particularly found the personal leadership skills workshop with Torry Orton, the Psychologist and Leadership specialist in the first week of the training very valuable as it made me know more about what kind of person I was and the stress levels I had. It also helped me understand myself more.

The various presentations of how stories could be generated from climate change issues were also helpful with The Age Senior Writer, Jo Chandler really driving the nail home with her suggestions of getting stories from rural areas but also verifying if the effects they were suffering from were from climate change or caused by man- made activities not related to climate change.  She also emphasized the importance of humanizing and simplifying stories.

Professional visits to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation,  CSIRO Aspendale Office also were very informative with new information and data collected from their observations in the changing climate in pacific island countries, while the visit to Tasmania’s CSIRO centre -also known as Australia’s gate-way to Antarctica was also an exciting one with us having a video conference with one of their Scientists at the Casey Station.

Sessions with Phil Chubb were also very helpful and it made me understand more Australia’s debate on Carbon Tax – we were here when it was passed – and also what it meant for big companies, the Australian government and the public.

From this workshop – I take with me better skills to report properly on climate change in Solomon Islands, a better understanding of myself,  more knowledge of the Australian debate on climate change and how it actually determines the nation’s prime minister , an understanding of how climate change is a complex issue that involves the biggest international organisations such the United Nations right to the people on the remote islands back at home. I have also established a network of professional people which include the Indonesian Reporters at the workshops, various journalism academics, Australian journalists and scientists whom I was privileged to meet, I know these connections will be useful to my work on environmental reporting in the future.

I would also like to thank the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre, the Australian Government and the Pacific Alliance for Developmental Journalists who have made this training possible!!! I have learnt a lot of new things and also established a new network!Thank you for the opportunity!! 🙂

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AUSTRALIA COULD DO MORE TO HELP PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRIES DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

As small island developing states, including the pacific, gear up towards the Conference of the Parties meeting in Durban next week to once again reinforce the urgent plea of saving their people and countries from the effects of climate change, Tasmania Greens Senator says Australia could do more to help pacific island countries deal with climate change in funding a Secretariat for Alliance of Small Island Developing States.

AOSIS is a non-governmental organization of low lying atolls and coastal countries established since 1990 to consolidate the voices of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to address global warming. AOSIS has been very active from its inception and 15 out of the 42 members and observers from all around the world are pacific island countries.

Speaking to pacific journalists last Friday following a presentation at the 2011 Environmental Politics and Conflict in an Age of Digital Media Symposium at the University of Tasmania, in Australia, Greens Senator Christine Milne says the first thing Australia could do is to provide funding for  a Secretariat for AOSIS.

“ I understand that the pacific is being given the chair of the AOSIS and the first thing Australia could do is give a couple of million dollars to the pacific to provide a secretariat for AOSIS, because if AOSIS is to maintain a good profile and capacity in global climate talks it needs to have a secretariat support, so the first thing Australia could do is to get involved  and give more support at that level.”

Senator Milne adds that Australia also needs to separate climate finance from the aid budget for transparency purposes.

“Secondly they should be separating out climate finance faster and long term from the aid budget because what Australia has done is that is has put the aid budget and climate finance together and so Australian people are told constantly that we are doing the right thing with their climate funding plus the increase of the aid budget but actually if you separate them out, you’ll see that we are not.”

“So the next thing Australia needs to do is to make sure that it has transparency and it’s aid funding is separate from climate financing.”

The Tasmanian Greens Senator also spoke of the need to increase capacity building with pacific government departments by allowing people to come to work in Australian government departments such as the Great Barrier Reef Park Authority.

“I worked really hard to get the coral reefs of New Caledonia, for example, listed as world heritage and I worked very hard on that and am delighted that we succeeded in doing that a couple of years ago, but obviously there’s a huge amount that could be learnt from the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, PNG could learn from those fantastic coral reefs, but right through the pacific there’s a whole range of issues.

In terms of assistance with adaptation, certainly assisting with know-how and technology that enables people to be able to keep being able to produce food where they live in light of the rising sea levels and salt water incursion is really important as well, plus a whole range of things.”

“But also there has to be a long term plan and this is what nobody is talking about and it goes to what I mentioned hearing Tuvalu says in the global talks in Nairobi – who will take my people? – hearing a pacific leader stand up and say that if the world knew that six countries were going to disappear but didn’t know which six, maybe people would be a bit more focused in acting on climate change and I thought that was a really good way of putting it because even with all the adaptation that will occur in the pacific, there are going to be some places like Kiribati and Tuvalu, for example, where ultimately people are going to have to move and we need to be thinking about how people can move and maintain their cultural identity and communities when they do move.”

So I think there’s a lot we could be doing but the first thing we should be doing is acknowledging that climate change is real and already creating substantial problems and internal migration, loss of burial and cultural sites, agricultural capacity and fresh water right now.”

Meanwhile on the question of the lack of coverage of climate change issues in pacific island countries by the Australian media, Senator Milne says the Australian media does not cover in a factual way the existing impact of climate change on pacific island countries.

She says it is extremely rare to find a photograph prominently placed in the Australian print media or stories prominently placed in current affairs or news bulletins about the impacts of storm surge or of any of the extreme weather events or issues such as salt water incursion, loss of capacity to grow food and loss of fresh water.

“You just don’t see those photographs in the Australian media or the stories, and if you do, they are placed as the sort of stories as human interest not related to news coverage of why the world needs to take action of climate change so it’s more of a travel log story than a front page story saying these are the existing consequences of climate change, that’s why we have to take action.

And the reason they’re not there is because if you say that, it makes it much harder for people to argue that there is no such thing as climate change, it’s not happening and it won’t happen for another hundred years, it’s going to cost us too much therefore we don’t need to do much about it – so it completely contradicts the line of argument that the Murdoch Press in particular want to take and that’s why it’s an inconvenient story that doesn’t get covered.”

Senator Christine Milner was interviewed by Vere Raicola of the Fiji Times, Rozalee Nongebatu of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation and Rikamati Nare Kiribati’s Broadcasting Commission who are currently doing a Climate Change Reporting fellowship in Australia under the Australian Leadership Award Scheme.

The three pacific journalists are part of a group of 15 journalists from the Asia Pacific region who  are undertaking the training coordinated by the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre in Melbourne and Tasmania.

ENDS/////

PCCSP projects more Sea Level Rise for Solo

Recently released scientific findings suggest that sea levels
in the Solomon Islands have risen and will continue to rise throughout this
century.

This information was released as part of a summary of
climate projections carried out by the Australian Government’s Pacific Climate
Change Science Program
of 14 pacific island countries and east Timor.

The brochures were released last week at the Commonwealth Heads
of Government Meeting
in Perth, Australia.

Data from satellite and tide gauges under the research program
indicate that the sea level has risen near the Solomon Islands by about 8mm per
year since 1993.It also explains that this is larger than the global average of
2.8-3.6 mm per year.

It says this higher rate of rise may be partly related to
natural fluctuations that take place year to year or decade to decade caused by
phenomena such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation.

Meanwhile the research says sea levels for Solomon Islands
will continue to rise by 2030 under a high emissions scenario with projected
rise in sea level from 4-15centimetres.

It says the sea level rise combined with natural year to
year changes will increase the impact for storm surges and coastal flooding.

It also says that because there is still much to learn, particularly
how large ice sheets such as the Antarctic and Greenland contribute to
sea-level rise, scientists are warning of larger rises than current predictions
could be possible.

Ends////

Asia and Pacific Journos at APJC 2011

Journalists from Asia and the Pacific in Melborune, Australia photo by Stefanus Akim

Thirteen reporters from the Asia and Pacific Region are currently at the Asia Pacific Journlism Centre, APJC, in Melbourne, Australia for a five week fellowship on reporting climate change.

The program’s goal is for the participating journalists to understand and report on climate change and the envionrment to contribute effectively to the development of their countries and the region.

The training program is being funded by the Australian Government’s aid agency, Ausaid under it’s Australian Leadership Award fellowship scheme and is being coordinated by the APJC.

Ends////

Commonwealth Should Fully Engage Fiji

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Peter Shanel at the Perth CHOGM meeting, 2011, photo by Comsec

The Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Peter Shanel says the Commonweath should fully engage with Fiji.

Fijivillage.com says the call was made by Mr Shanel before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, last week.

Fiji has been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Commonwealth.

Sea Level Rise in Solomon Islands

Traditonal Dancers from Ontong Java photo by 350.org

Like most of it’s neigbouring countries, Solomon Islands, a small island developing state, has it’s share of problems on the issue of climate change.

The country is anticipating many impacts on society, the economy, the environment and human health, all of which are exacerbated by political instability, ongoing environmental degradation, and an isolated economy.

One of the adverse  effects is sea level rise on the Ontong Java atolls, of Malaita Province which is affecting the growth of  Swamp taro, one of the staple crops planted by the people on the atolls and the limited water sources on the atoll.

The government has also announced tentative plans of relocation in which they are looking at resettling the people from Ontong Java to two provinves, namely  Isabel and the Choiseul Province.

The Solomon Islands Government has various projects administered under the Ministry
of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology’s recenlty established Climate Change Division, that are currently helping communities adapt and also mitigate climate change in the country.

ENDS/////

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