‘Empowering Journalists for Environmental Change Reporting’

By Sizwe Dlamini

The Eswatini Environment Authority (EEA), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the auspices of the LT LEDS team, and in collaboration with the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO), and the Municipal Council of Mbabane, hosted a two-day workshop on Environmental sustainability under the coordination of Yibutse Green Action NPO.

The workshop took place at the Sibebe Resort last week and aimed to build the capacity of over 20 journalists to report on environmental matters and climate change.

The workshop explored critical aspects of environmental sustainability and legislative efforts in Eswatini, with a focus on single-use plastic bags, alternative materials, and the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The intended outcome of the workshop was to empower journalists with the knowledge and skills necessary to report effectively on environmental issues and climate change, leading to the formation of a loose coalition of Green Journalists.

This coalition will serve as a unified voice to advocate for environmental sustainability, push for climate action, and drive public discourse towards a more eco-conscious society in Eswatini. By coming together, these journalists will amplify their impact, ensuring that environmental and climate issues remain at the forefront of media coverage and public awareness.

Musa Ndlangamandla, Executive Director of Yibutse Green Action, highlighted the importance of this initiative “Journalists have a unique role to play in changing the narrative around climate change and environmental stewardship. By equipping them with the right knowledge and skills, we are ensuring that they become essential parts of the solution.”

The Acting CEO of the Municipal Council of Mbabane (MCM), Ms. B. Masina underscored the impact of plastic on the city “Plastic waste has a detrimental effect on our urban environment, clogging drainage systems and polluting public spaces. By reducing single-use plastics, we can enhance the cleanliness and health of our city.”

MCM Chief Environmental Health Officer Mxolisi Maphanga said the role of media in promoting sustainability is vital. Maphanga said effective communication can drive awareness, influence behaviour, and inspire collective action towards a sustainable future.

“By effectively communicating sustainability, the media can play a crucial role in fostering a culture of environmental responsibility and driving meaningful change towards a more sustainable world,” he said.

Executive Director of CANGO, Mr Thembinkosi Dlamini, stated: “There needs to be a balance between social justice and the need to protect the environment and sustainable livelihoods. Our efforts to ban single-use plastics must consider the economic realities of our people while ensuring we preserve our natural resources for future generations.”

The workshop provided journalists with practical training on covering environmental issues effectively. It included sessions on the health implications of single-use plastics, economic opportunities and challenges associated with reducing plastic use, and Eswatini’s legislative framework related to plastic waste management.

One journalist attending the workshop, Timothy Simelane remarked: “This workshop is a fantastic opportunity for us to learn how to better communicate the importance of sustainability to our audiences. It’s about making the issue relatable and urgent.”

By fostering dialogue among key stakeholders, including media professionals, the workshop enhanced the quality and accuracy of media coverage of environmental issues. This, in turn, raised public awareness and support for environmental policies and climate action. The ultimate goal is to build a cadre of journalists who are champions in the newsroom on climate change and environmental stewardship.

As Eswatini prepares for a future without single-use plastics, the collaborative efforts of government agencies, NGOs, businesses, and the media are crucial. The journey towards a sustainable, plastic-free economy is challenging but necessary. With the right support and innovation, Eswatini can lead the way in environmental sustainability and set an example for other nations to follow.

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