OECS Commission targets regional media, communications specialists to do better job on climate change issues

The St. Lucia based OECS Commission organized event takes place at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and will address challenges related to climate change and examine strategies to adopt best practices and maximize the use of available Climate Change (CC) media products that already exist in the region.

The symposium will also assist in building the capacity and confidence of communication officers to design and implement effective CC communications approaches to different audiences. A key output, as well, is to increase the interest of media reporters to drive public demand for information on their respective government’s climate negotiations.

Dr-Maria-ProtzAn official from the OECS Commission working in the CC program told the media, “We recognize that people, who speak on the subject of climate change, communicate on a body of knowledge that is based on fluid scientific data, to people who are not necessarily interested in the science of climate change. This we believe can hamper our goal of achieving behavioural change, as persistent poor environmental practices are known to exacerbate climate change impacts.”

Chief facilitator Dr Maria Protz said she is “excited to join the OECS on this timely and important initiative, as it presents an excellent opportunity to take stock of past communication efforts in climate change for the purposes of scaling up best practices and learning lessons from case study experiences”.

Commenting on the importance of climate change communications in the context of development, Dr Protz said, “Without a doubt, when communication is well-planned, properly-resourced and fully integrated into development processes, priorities are more easily identified, consensus is easier to negotiate and achieve, critical learning is more easily fostered, and empowered decision-making and action for genuine, sustainable development is greatly enhanced – especially in ways that engage the most vulnerable.”

Tecla-FontenardAccording to the OECS Commission, most communications officers and media personnel in the region admit that the vagueness and abstract nature of climate change, not only makes it difficult to visualize, but the vagaries in the science and predictions make the average person doubt its seriousness, which further complicates communications and awareness approaches.

Tecla Fontenard, communications specialist at the OECS Commission and key planner of the symposium said, “We believe this is an opportunity to break down climate science to the extent that communicators who are tasked with varying roles of raising awareness, can better relate to, better visualize and better present the complex issues.”

The symposium is funded by USAID and is being held under the OECS ‘Rallying the Region to Action on Climate Change’ (RRACC) project.

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