“Transforming the Narrative”

…. Climate change coverage needs a solution-oriented approach, Says Expert

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (2-05-2024) – An environmental expert urges a fundamental change in climate change reporting, advocating for a proactive, solution-driven approach to engage audiences meaningfully.

Friday Phiri, leading climate change advocate, emphasized this shift during a Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) workshop ahead of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), highlighting its necessity in tackling urgent climate challenges and fostering sustainability.

Phiri stressed the importance of transformative journalism in addressing climate change, moving beyond problem-spotting to showcase innovative solutions, success stories, and impactful initiatives.

“This approach, he noted, empowers communities with practical information, spurs collective action, and drives significant transformations,” Phiri said.

Collaboration among scientists, policymakers, journalists, and communities, Phiri emphasized, amplifies the impact of solution-oriented storytelling.

“By sharing stories of hope, resilience, and innovation, individuals and communities can be mobilized towards a sustainable future, creating a healthier, more resilient world,” he explained.

Phiri underscored the urgency of addressing climate-related health issues and the need for a transformative approach.

He advocates for comprehensive evaluations of governmental and stakeholder activities, emphasizing the importance of assessing program effectiveness like climate-smart agriculture, considering regional variations in solutions, and inspiring collective action.

He highlighted the shared responsibility in addressing climate change and stressed the significance of original reporting for insightful analysis.

Crafting compelling narratives and providing contextual understanding, he explained, are crucial for sustaining coverage and avoiding superficial reporting.

Phiri sees potential in combining Solutions Journalism with historical perspectives to nurture empathy and inspire optimism.

He further explored the role of Solutions Journalism in promoting climate solutions while emphasizing the shift from problem identification to solution exploration.

Phiri emphasized the importance of solution-oriented reporting, citing concrete examples where this approach has yielded significant impact, like the “Climate Solutions Series” by a leading national newspaper showcasing local communities implementing sustainable practices to mitigate climate change effects.

“Through in-depth reporting on effective tree-planting techniques and community engagement, the project restored ecosystems and improved local livelihoods and resilience to climate-related disasters,” he said.

Phiri acknowledged the challenges journalists face in adopting a solutions-based approach, including limited access to reliable data on successful climate solutions and editorial constraints prioritizing sensationalism.

He stressed the importance of overcoming these barriers to foster a more balanced dialogue on climate change, urging media outlets to invest in training and resources.

Phiri also highlighted the urgent need to address climate-related health issues, proposing actions like creating dedicated sections in media platforms and organizing community workshops featuring healthcare professionals.

Boyd Chibale from BBC Media Action echoed Phiri’s sentiments, advocating for a proactive and solutions-oriented approach to reporting on climate change.

Chibale emphasized the significance of collaboration between diverse stakeholders, including scientists, policymakers, journalists, and communities, to amplify the impact of solution-oriented storytelling.

He believes that by fostering partnerships and promoting collective ownership of climate solutions, media can play a transformative role in shaping a more sustainable future for all.

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