APN at the 18 th APFEJ World Congress of Environmental Journalists 19- 22 October, 2009, Colombo, Sri Lanka

As part of its continuing strong efforts to implement its Communications Strategy, the APN took part in the 18 th Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ) World Congress of Environmental Journalists held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 19-22 October 2009. The theme of this year’s congress was Educate to end Climate Poverty and attended by over 100 environmental journalists and media leaders from nearly 40 countries.

On behalf of Mr. M.A.R.D. Jayatilake, APN national Focal Point (nFP) for Sri Lanka, Mr. Anura Jayatilake delivered the APN presentation which focused on Education, Training and Public Awareness on Climate Change in the Asia-Pacific Region. In the presentation, Mr. Jayatilake stressed that one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today is climate change. Even though possible impacts of climate change on the environment and the society have already been well documented, those information has hardly outreached the public.

As a result, vulnerability of the society to the climate change remains unchanged despite significant technological advances. It is important that one has an understanding of what climate change means to different people in different parts of the world. Hence, there is a need for effective communication, public outreach and education to increase support for policy, collection action and behaviour change.

Many governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations (IGOs and NGOs) are already working actively to raise awareness. The scale of changes required, however, and the vast number of people and interests that must be influenced, call for outreach activities of a greater magnitude.

In order to address these issues, Mr. Jayatilake shared to participants some of the APN initiatives. One of these is by supporting projects under the Scientific Capacity Building and Enhancement for Sustainable Development in Developing Countries (CAPaBLE) Programme which aims to: 1) build the scientific capacity of aspiring scientists through sharing of knowledge, experience, scientific information and data collection on global change impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation and mitigation; 2) i mprove informed decision-making in developing countries by disseminating outcomes of research activities to policy-makers and civil society; and 3) e nhance the capacity of leading researchers in developing countries to produce comprehensive scientific results on global change impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation and mitigation.

Furthermore, Mr. Jayatilake emphasised that the APN believes that education, training and awareness generation have to be country-driven; addressing the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and reflecting their national sustainable development goals, priorities and strategies. APN is committed to continuously addressing the challenge and responding to the needs by strengthening appropriate interactions among scientists and policy-makers, and providing scientific input to policy decision-making and scientific knowledge to the public.

The Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ) is a network and regional association founded in 1988, dedicated to promoting education understanding and awareness of the environment through reporting of local, regional and international environmental and development issues. Last APFEJ Congresses were held in Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Fiji, Philippines, China and Malaysia. The 2010 and 2011 Congresses will be in Cook Islands and Nepal, respectively.