Bhutanese journalists trained on adaptation


Under its capacity building component, the Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas (Himalica) Initiative conducted a five-day training for journalists in Bhutan. Fifteen reporters and six college lecturers attended the training on climate change adaptation that was held in the premises of College of Natural Resources in Lobeysa, Wangduephodrang, from 8 to 12 May 2014.

Under capacity building, Himalica focuses on building the capacity of institutions of higher education, skills development and training institutions, and civil society organizations to scale-up best practices for improved resilience to climate change. It also includes building the capacity of climate change adaptation communicators which includes journalists, local leaders, and grassroots civil servants. As a demand-driven Initiative designed to respond to the needs of the member countries, training journalists, media trainers, and college lecturers in Bhutan was seen as a major step toward fulfilling the mandate of building the capacity of climate change adaptation communicators. 

ICIMOD’s Knowledge Partner in Bhutan – ‘Bhutan Media and Communication Institute (BMCI)’ –designed and coordinated the training programme in close consultation with capacity building component lead Dr Nani Ram Subedi and Communications Specialist Gopilal Acharya

The opening of the training was graced by Bhutan’s Information and Communication Minister Lyonpo D.N. Dungyel. He said that environment is one of the pillars of Gross National Happiness and therefore an extremely important area. “While the country has always placed the highest respect for the environment, there is a need for greater awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens, and to think more globally and act locally,” he said. 

The minister thanked the Himalica Initiative for organizing the training in collaboration with the BMCI. 

The training objectives were to:

  • Explain the concept of adaptation to change in local context of livelihoods
  • Identify relations of climate change adaptation with livelihoods
  • Evaluate the impacts of climate change in local context of livelihoods
  • Review of drivers of change in local context
  • Identify roles of different stakeholders to make climate friendly planning at local level
  • Identify timely and relevant issues related to climate change, adaptation, and rural livelihoods and raise them at wider public forums through accurate reportage

The training was conducted by three experienced and knowledgeable resource persons. They developed a module most suitable for Bhutanese participants. Many pertinent issues related to Bhutan were discussed. The knowledge transfer was tested continuously through interactions, questions, and individual and group exercises. Since the subject was new and scientific, the resource persons simplified their presentations to make the participants understand in the simplest manner. 

Following the three days of technical sessions by the ICIMOD resource persons, an American journalist, Ron Feemster, led interactive sessions on crafting a good story. The participants were then taken for two field visits, based on which they wrote stories for their respective medium.

All the participants said that they found the training vey useful and thanked the ICIMOD and BMCI for organising the training program. They found the program enjoyable and the resource persons knowledgeable. They said the sessions were a great learning experience, especially since most participants lacked in-depth knowledge on climate change adaptation. 

For most journalists, it was the first time they were attending a climate change-related training, and therefore it was an eye opener and a rewarding experience. They said they were in a better position now to write more accurate and relevant stories that have human angle. The faculty members from Sherubtse College said that they would be in a better position to introduce environmental journalism module and said that they would include climate change in the module. They said the content of the training was in-depth and well designed. 

The closing was attened by the agriculture minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, who highlighted the dire state of media industry in Bhutan. Therefore, training journalists and helping build their capacity was of utmost importance. He also said that media should play the role of interfacing between scientists, policymakers, and the people. He said journalists should report accurately what scientists and researchers say about climate change related issues.