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Media challenged to help solve climate-related problems

Delegates at the PINA Pacific Media Summit in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. Photo: ONOC

Pacific Scoop:
Report – by Sheenal Sharma in Suva

A health expert has told media personnel climate change is also a health issue and the media can help identify and solve climate-related problems.

Dr Josaia Samuela, from the Public Health Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said people need to make the link, because basic needs such as food and water are directly dependent on climate.

“The physical environment and non-human species are the primary victims of climate change, while the human impacts of climate change are distant, experienced somewhere else, and at some time in the future,” he said.

But he said human health is also dependent on the climate as populations rely on ready access to basic resources such as food, shelter and water.

A complex issue
Speaking at the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Pacific Media Summit in Fiji, he said climate change is a very complex issue, and the media can find it a daunting task.

“Experts write and talk about climate change and the media takes responsibility to relay out the message to the public.

“It can be a challenging task for the media when it communicates about it in terms of scientific content, levels of confidence or areas of uncertainty.”

In touch with the public
But Dr Samuela said the media has to develop a clear understanding of what the public currently believes about climate change and how those perceptions interact with personal values, critical to the outcomes of climate change communication.

“The media also takes the responsibility to mobilise public opinion and policy makers about climate change on the agreement among the experts.”

He said the media has the role of informing, advocating, educating, and empowering people and policy makers about impacts of climate change on human health.

“This, the media does by mobilising community partnerships and actions to identify and solve climate related problems.”

Sheenal Sharma is a reporter on Wansolwara, the student journalism newspaper published by the University of the South Pacific.