Critical role of media in communicating climate vulnerability and locally led adaptation highlighted during event in Dhaka

DHAKA, BANGLADESH 2 May 2024 Latest News on LLA Events

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bangladesh, addressing the meeting.

The Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and BBC Media Action highlighted the critical role of the media in climate communication at an event in Dhaka on 30 April, 2024 attended by over 100 government and civil society representatives.

The event marked the completion of a year-long training program focused on locally led adaptation for 40 journalists and 24 young communicators from six vulnerable regions in Bangladesh delivered by GCA and BBC Media Action. The training was supported by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office. Certificates were awarded to the trainees, who produced 100 Voices of the Vulnerable videos, 125 stories and social media content, broadcast by 20 TV channels and various social media platforms. Six of the trainees received job offers from local media outlets, and 15 monetized their social media platforms.

“There is no dearth of stories on adaptation to report on in Bangladesh,” said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, congratulating the trainees during his speech at the event. “Communicators just need to start looking at development issues through a climate change lens. They have an important role in our collective effort to shift the narrative of climate change in Bangladesh from one of vulnerability, to one of resilience and prosperity.”

Mr Chowdhury noted that his government is currently developing a national climate communication strategy, and welcomed inputs from the trainees.

GCA CEO Professor Patrick V. Verkooijen, attending virtually, highlighted the need to connect with communities at the grassroots level, conveying both the challenges and positive developments in climate adaptation: “There is no better way to communicate the urgency of a truly big issue, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, than by connecting with communities at the grassroots level. The more you make those connections, the more we can highlight the harsh reality of things like losing your home to rising sea levels and land erosion, but also the positive stuff that is happening thanks to the power of local people.”

The event underscored the media's role in shaping public discourse on climate, with Alex Harvey, Team Leader for Climate and Environment at the British High Commission in Dhaka, emphasizing the importance of bringing frontline voices into policy discussions: “Media plays a crucial role in shaping public discourse on climate and the UK is very pleased to be supporting this initiative through GCA and BBC Media Action. It is really important that the journalists and content makers able to bring voices of those at the frontline of climate change to help inform policy discussions – and also help monitor implementation within their local communities.”

Participants also heard from BBC Media Action's Md. Al Mamun, Country Director, and Mir Md. Arafat Rahman, Project Manager, who outlined the training program's success in connecting journalists to experts, and helping young communicators monetize their skills through social media.

“It is crucial that we acknowledge the important role of the media not only in raising public awareness on climate change impacts, but also in showcasing innovative actions taken by affected communities to adapt to these impacts, “ said Md. Al Mamun, Country Director, BBC Media Action in his opening remarks.

“Local journalists cover issues related to extreme and slow onset climate-related events (such as the use of saline-resistant crops to battle rising salinity levels) but lack knowledge, understanding, and access to information to link this reportage to climate change,” said Bishawjit Das, Advisor, BBC Media Action. “The training provided them with a better understanding of climate change, and connected them to experts to reach out to in future, for more information.”

“This is the start of a longer journey together – we will continue to work with the alumni in future, providing them the knowledge resources they need to strengthen their coverage of locally led adaptation efforts,” said Shahrin Mannan, Program Officer, GCA. She said the GCA’s Global Hub on Locally Led Adaptation will continue to be a source of stories for the communicators, and will also support them in the dissemination of their stories to a wider global audience.

The program will continue to support alumni, providing resources to strengthen coverage of locally led adaptation efforts. Trainees shared how the training has expanded their focus, including stories of community resilience, integrated farming, and small business case studies.

Afroza Luna, Local Correspondent, Ekushey TV, Gaibandha said the training inspired her to look beyond the conventional climate victim narrative and focus more on the positive role of communities as agents of change, implementing adaptation solutions using their own knowledge and resources.

 Kallal Roy, a young content creator from Kurigram, said he started carrying more stories on local adaptation on his Hamar Kurigram (Our Kurigram) Facebook page and to his surprise, they received a lot of traction. The story of a local fisherman who gave up his traditional livelihood because it was no longer profitable and started a small business received over four thousand views within days.

Yameen Ali, Local Correspondent, Jamuna TV, Bagerhat said the training inspired him to do a three-part series on female farmers in Bagerhat practising integrated farming by growing vegetable on raised beds to adapt to the rising levels of salinity in soil and water.

Khademul Rashed, a trainee of GCA’s 2022 Media Training Program, reported that the skills developed through the training enabled him develop and secure funding for a USD 3 million project on “Scaling up Inclusive Climate Resilience of Vulnerable Communities through Locally led Adaptation”. Under the project, 400 young people were supported to lead campaigns on promoting locally led adaptation.

The event concluded with discussions on how to further connect stakeholders and the government's role in sensitizing media leaders to climate change adaptation, with Dr. M Feisal Rahman of GCA Bangladesh highlighting the initiative's lessons for the national communication strategy being prepared by the Government for the National Adaptation Plan and Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan.