A workshop for members of the African press led to the start of an awareness-raising campaign and the formation of a network of reporters specialized in sustainable land management (SLM) issues. Reporters on environment-related topics refined their knowledge of desertification, land degradation and drought in Algiers, Algeria, from 29 to 31 May 2012, at a workshop organized by the Algerian government and the UNCCD.
At the end of the three days, French-speaking journalists from Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo determined they would strive to better inform their audiences of the need to stop land degradation in Africa. Didier Madafime, a reporter at the Benin Office of Radio and Television, said, while reading the workshop resolution, each journalist present would ‘serve as the focal point in his country in providing support to the work of the Convention [to Combat Desertification]’. The group also promised continuity – moreover, to ‘layout an annual work plan of activities’.
The discussions delved into soil conservation, rehabilitation efforts and policies in Africa and the media’s role in shaping public opinion on environmental issues. UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja spoke about the importance of developing a clear message for the RIO+20 summit, identifying ‘zero-net land degradation’ a top priority.
The Global Mechanism (GM) led two discussions – one on the economics of land degradation and the second on the Great Green Wall for the Sahel and the Sahara Initiative (GGWSSI), providing it as an example of South-to South cooperation, also relating it to communications. “Journalists must be aware of the various issues, programmes and challenges to effectively convey them to the public”, said Youssef Brahimi, GM Programme Coordinator for North Africa and South-to-South Cooperation, explaining that a metaphor, such as the ‘Great Green Wall,’ can be interpreted as literal if the media is not careful.
Several field visits complemented the meetings, allowing the journalists to witness first-hand some SLM projects implemented in Algeria.
The Algiers Regional Workshop on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought followed a similar workshop held in Chifeng, China, to inform Asian media of the need for and benefits of an agreement on a global sustainable development goal on land at the Earth Summit in Brazil later in June.
For more information:
Mr Youssef Brahimi, Programme Coordinator, North Africa & South-to-South Cooperation
Tel. +39 06 5459 2584
y.brahimi (at) global-mechanism.org