GANTA, Nimba – The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) last weekend concluded a two-day training for over 40 female journalists on how to report environmental issues.
The training which helped female reporters understand the three Rio Conventions was organized by the Cross-Cutting Capacity Development (CCCD) Project with funding from Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
The CCCD Project seeks to provide support to the Government of Liberia to strengthen national capacities to meet global environmental obligations with the framework of sustainable development priorities while the GEF was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
The CCCD Project has four components including the establishment of an integrated environmental knowledge management system (EKMS); enhancement of institutional and technical capacities for mainstreaming; improving awareness of global environmental values; and updating the National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA).
Speaking at the start of the training which ran from 20-21 August, EPA Acting Executive Director, Randall M. Dobayou asked female journalists across the country to champion environmental issues in their reports.
Dobayou said female reporters have over the years shown lack of interest in the environment and pleaded with members of the Female Journalists Associate of Liberia (FeJAL) to begin considering reporting environmental issues like climate change.
Speaking further, Dobayou said the training was necessary since it is important for EPA to ensure that information regarding the Rio Conventions is made public through the media.
The acting EPA boss said the agency intends to develop a pool of female reporters whose specific focus will be directly on environmental issues.
He noted that when female journalists have the requisite training and knowledge about the environment, they will go out and report on issues that are affecting the environment, thereby increasing public awareness on the environment and its impact.
“Every time I listen to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) giving awards, there hasn’t been any award for environmental journalist; and we at the EPA will be ready and willing to sponsor the PUL to ensure that an award for environmental reporting is among the awards,” he said.
To motivate environmental reporting, the Acting EPA Boss announced that the agency would sponsor environmental award during the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) annual award ceremony.
The PUL gives out awards in various categories to best performing journalists every June at an awards night.
He promised that agreement will be reached with the PUL on the sponsorship of the environmental award.
Dobayou encouraged female journalists to utilize what they learned and noted that there are lots of opportunities out there including international environmental training and conferences.
Also speaking, Press Union of Liberia (PUL) President, Charles Coffey thanked the EPA for the initiative and asked the agency to continuously empower journalists on reporting on the environment.
Mr. Coffey said environmental issues and its impacts have globally become significant topic that requires everyone’s involvement, including the media.
“When they are trained and given the full capacity, they will be committed in bringing out the relevant news as it relates to the environment,” he said.
He indicated that not many citizens are informed about the consequences of harming the environment including danger pose by beach sand mining, land degradation among others.
Mr. Coffey further stated that the mining sector is another form of environmental disaster that is taking place in Liberia that the media needs to also consider in their daily news reporting rather than the usual political issues.
For her part, the Vice President of the Female Journalists Association (FeJAL) Winnie S. Jimmy encouraged female reporters to take advantage of the knowledge acquired from the training to increase awareness of the country’s environment.