Climate Change! Journalists urged to act


14 October 2022

Extreme weather events are the most noticeable effects of climate change. In Zimbabwe, this has been evident through the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai as well as the drought spells which have affected food production in the country. This has resulted in food insecurity worsening the vulnerability of low-income families.

This has led to growing global concern and shifted emphasis to the effects of climate change actions. Despite the adverse effects of climate change on human rights and the environment, media coverage of these issues remains sparse. Realising the urgent need to equip media practitioners with tools for effective climate change and environmental-related human rights reporting, ZELA yesterday convened a media training on environmental and climate change reporting. The workshop brought together journalists from Gwanda, Hwange and Harare, Mutare, Shurugwi and Zvishavane.

Climate Change Mitigation and Renewable Energy Expert at Climate Change Management Department, Zimbabwe Mr. Lawrence Mashungu in his capacity building session that focused on the Overview of Climate Change: Causes and Impactshighlighted that we are all experiencing the impacts of climate change and thus, there is need to act. The media remains the main source of information and opinion for millions of readers and viewers and journalists must ensure they profile climate change issues not only for awareness but also for action.

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Legal Officer, Michelle Chitando also urged journalists to research more on climate change, mining and human rights governing instruments so that they effectively package information in a palpable manner for the benefit of readers and audience.

“Over the years, it has become even more apparent that climate change has a differential impact on various sectors of society with devastating impacts on poor and marginalised communities that are predominantly located in the global south including Zimbabwe. From 1900 to 2017, events captured in the database for Zimbabwe include 7 drought events, 22 epidemic episodes, 12 floods, and 5 storms, which resulted in total deaths of 7000 people, with more than 20 million people affected, and total damage estimates of 950 million USD.”

The Government of Zimbabwe realises the climatic shocks that the country has been facing and there have been moves to address its international commitment to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. In 2021, Zimbabwe revised its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to 40%. The revised NDC is economy wide NDC and it includes sectors such as Waste, Industrial Processes and Product Use, Agriculture, Forestry, and other Land Use sectors.  Whilst Zimbabwe is a small emitter in comparison to other developed countries, is it still one of the world’s developing countries and significantly susceptible to disproportionate effects of climate change.

Journalists present admitted that they need extensive training when it comes to climate change reporting, and they propose that Journalism Training Institutions need to include a module on climate change and make it compulsory. They also indicated that similar trainings should be convened for Editors so that they are also capacitated on why there is an urgent need to include climate change stories.

Stories have the power to transform complex subject matters and ZELA will continue enhancing the capacity of journalists so that they effectively educate and inform the public on development issues.

“I know there has been little interest from local journalists to work on investigative stories related to climate change. But I feel that climate change is the biggest story our time. And the climate story has a strong link with the mining or the extractive sector.”-Andrew Mambondiyani

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