Myanmar Journalists Learn Climate Change Communication

Journalists talk to local farmers during field visit

A five-day training for 20 Myanmar journalists on reporting climate change adaptation was organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nyaung Shwe, Shan State, in collaboration with the Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development. The training was organised as part of the EU-funded Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas (Himalica) programme, and included field visits.

Journalists cover news related to climate change adaptation on a daily basis, and yet they often lack the basic conceptual understanding of the subject they write about. The training focused on understanding the role of journalists as communicators in translating information related to climate change to a wider audience in everyday language.   

Twenty journalists attended the training in Nyaung Shwe

Training climate change adaptation communicators is seen as a major milestone under Knowledge Management and Communication component of Himalica, and the training was designed to respond to the local context of Myanmar. Twenty media practitioners (reporters, editors, and freelancers) from both broadcast and print media attended the training from 25 to 29 January 2016.

Training sessions were held in a participatory and interactive style, where technical experts made presentations on the science of climate change, including Myanmar’s specific context. These covered drivers of change, global scenarios on climate change, impacts of change, adaptation planning, the need for adaptation strategies, and importantly, the role of journalists in effectively capturing and communicating issues related to climate change adaptation. A senior media trainer conducted sessions on how to identify and write good climate change-related stories.

After some indoor sessions, the participants visited the Himalica pilot site in Heho and the Inlay Lake area, where they interacted with farmers to understand local issues related to climate change. They then wrote reports for their newspapers and made visual news clips.  A number of role plays were also staged by the journalists.

The participating journalists, many of them young and unfamiliar with the subject, said this kind of training is timely and relevant to their day to day work. They said the science of climate change is difficult to understand, and relating climate change adaptation to local issues is often confusing.    

As a demand-driven Initiative designed to respond to the needs of the member countries, training journalists and other media personnel is seen as a major step toward fulfilling the mandate of building the capacity of climate change adaptation communicators. A similar training was organised for Bhutanese journalists in 2014.