Thursday, December 7, 2017
A wide range of groups worldwide discuss in depth these existential issues that affect our earth; climate scientists, politicians, famous actors, environmentalists and economists. Journalists are rarely invited to take part in these discussions, not to mention in decision making.

Even though journalists are knowledgeable, have a lot of experience and often report in depth on stories that reveal the relations between water, conflict and climate – both consciously and as a result of their daily reporting. Failed harvests, large-scale floods, migration and war are all issues that are closely related to climate change, that are frequently investigated by local journalists.

Journalists join the discussion

Free Press Unlimited is bringing together journalists from around the world to finally join the discussion about symptoms, solutions of the climate issue, with particular attention for the role of water and impact of climate on conflict. Journalists from Mali, Nepal, Iraq, Sudan and Ethiopia have been invited to join in the discussion at the highest level, during the 'Planetary Security Conference.' The conference is run by the Planetary Security Initiative, a consortium of leading think tanks lead by Clingendael. Also invited to take part in the conference are politicians such as the Nigerian minister of Internal Affairs and the minister of Foreign Affairs for Mali. During this conference, the journalists will be given the opportunity to interview these policy makers and represent their work on the issues of climate and water. Free Press Unlimited's partner Metrography, a photography agency in Iraq, will exhibit two important photo stories during the conference, about the Mosul dam and the Khasa lake in Kirkuk. The challenges of post-IS Iraq, particularly questions concerning the control of water resources, reveal the relationship between water, climate and conflict.

Building capacity and sharing experiences

On the day leading up to the conference, Free Press Unlimited has organised a special workshop for these journalists, to share successful formats and approaches to reporting on water, climate and conflict with each other and further improve their capacity. The Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (Nefej), an important partner in this field, will play an important part in this workshop, sharing their expertise and experiences with the group.

Providing information for all

Journalists working in the field have close contact with local communities, who are experiencing the environment changing around them. This generates a unique perspective and knowledge. Local communities could be suffering a lack, or floods, of water, with the effects of climate change and the conflicts that ensue affecting them directly. Their voices should be heard, and policy makers held accountable. On the other hand, local communities also have a need for current information, to be kept up to date on the latest reports from climate scientists, understanding the policies and solutions that are being implemented as a result. Journalists play a vital role in sharing information in both directions.

The first step

Journalists can play a vital role in the communication surrounding water, conflict and climate, but this is only effective when they are included in the conversation. When journalists are included in important discussions, where they can share their knowledge and experience, and are kept fully informed of the current developments by those involved, journalists are can complete the missing link between the communities affected by climate change and those who debate and define the science and policies surrounding it. To achieve this, Free Press Unlimited has taken the first step with journalists from our own network.

Credits for the picture of the header: Metrography