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Asia-Pacific media urged to raise awareness about effects of climate change on the region’s agriculture and food systems

05/02/2018 Nadi, Fiji

With the effects of climate change and extreme weather events disproportionately affecting people in Asia and the Pacific, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is urging the region’s media to focus more attention on raising awareness of the need for all stakeholders to scale up adaptation and mitigation efforts to protect Asia-Pacific’s agriculture and food systems for current and future generations. 

The call was made at a meeting of broadcasters from across the region during the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union’s 4th Media Summit on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction this week in Fiji, a country on the front line in experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change and increasingly severe weather patterns.

In welcoming remarks, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the ABU’s 160 delegates from 22 countries, “the threat that climate change poses to the entire world is undoubtedly the greatest collective challenge humanity has ever faced.” His speech was delivered by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji’s Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, who is also responsible for policy and actions to respond to the effects of climate change.

Fiji currently holds the presidency of COP23, the ongoing round of UN negotiations to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This month, Fiji also marks the second anniversary of the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston, the biggest storm to ever make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere. Forty-four people died and infrastructure was destroyed or badly damaged.

“We are at a cross road for humanity – climate change and its impacts will make or break the world,” the Secretary-General of ABU, Javad Mottaghi, told delegates. “We at the ABU and our membership want to put the media at service of people and use it for constructive dialogue to face together the greatest challenge of our time – climate change.”

ABU is the biggest broadcasting union in the world with 270 members in 69 countries and the ability to reach a collective audience of more than 3.5 billion people.

The conference discussed ways for its media membership to increase its ‘climate change’ news coverage, beyond reporting about disasters, and to include more about the challenges and work already being done across the region to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.

“More attention and visibility need to be given to climate action on agriculture,” said Allan Dow, FAO Regional Communication Officer for Asia-Pacific. “Countries of this region have signed up to the Paris Agreement and committed themselves to take action on climate change. Addressing the current and future risks of climate change to agriculture is a clear priority. Therefore, it’s up to national media to monitor progress toward those nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and report on it.”  

As part of its commitment to help governments achieve the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially relating to food security and zero hunger, FAO and partners are promoting many good practices such as conservation agriculture and ‘climate smart agriculture’ techniques in countries of Asia-Pacific. 

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