Not much is being reported on the silent catastrophe of 4.2 million people dying prematurely each year from ambient pollution, mostly related to the use of fossil fuels, the cause of climate change—but it is real. Then there are the impacts of severe hurricanes this year alone, from Miami and Puerto Rico, to Cuba and Dominica, as well as record floods across Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and severe droughts in parts of Africa.
These have all taken place mere weeks before the 23rd session of the Conference of Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and the Saint Lucian media is being called on to sensitize the populace about the all-important issue.
COP 23 will be held in Bonn, Germany, from Nov. 6 to 17, and is a follow-up to the Paris Agreement aimed at mitigating carbon emissions, to which Saint Lucia is a signatory.
On Thursday, Oct. 18, Clement Wulf-Soulage, the Director of Information Services at the Government Information Service (GIS), convened a meeting with media stakeholders to discuss ways in which the private media and the GIS could effectively highlight the event, and give more prominence to issues relating to climate change and global warming.
“Climate change is an issue of absolute importance to the region,” Mr. Soulage said. “Needless to say that Saint Lucia has been spared the brunt of three disastrous hurricanes so far. As media practitioners, we are a very important means of communicating environmental concerns to the general public. We should be concerned with the environment a lot more. [There should be] more public announcements and even discussion programs on NTN, GIS and in the private media.”
Mr. Soulage added that while the Saint Lucian contingent will be making a case for small island states at COP 23, the media should join the sensitization process by placing the issues at the forefront. He stressed that the media should hold a more committal position in educating the public on ecological and environmental matters, even beyond climate change.
Wednesday’s meeting sought to strategize ways in which the local media could report on the island’s response to the escalating crisis of climate change.
During COP 23, the GIS will facilitate the dissemination of information to the wider media. Ahead of this, GIS will produce a number of PSAs and short features that the private broadcast media have agreed to air on their various stations. A series of newspaper articles prepared by the GIS will also appear in The Voice.
Saint Lucia’s delegation to COP 23 will be headed by Hon. Dr. Gale T. C. Rigobert, Minister for Education, innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development.