The United Nations Climate Summit 24th (COP24), taking place in Katowice, Poland, this December, saw the global community gathered to create the set of rules needed to prevent dangerous global warming and to govern the Paris Agreement.
Africa is arguably the continent that is most impacted by climate change, experiencing storms, droughts, and floods; the emergence of new human and plant diseases as well as increased incidents of infectious diseases; unpredictable weather; and rising sea levels, among others.
African media, however, are traditionally poorly represented at the climate talks, and this year was no different: from the 1,068 journalists who participated in the summit, less than 30 journalists represented African media houses, according to reporting by Inter Press Service. The main reason given by African journalists who were accredited to attend the conference but did not manage to be present was the lack of funding.
To counter this media gap, Climate Tracker was generously supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to mentor 4 talented young journalists from the continent in reporting on the UN climate summit for their respective national media. During the 2 week conference, these young reporters highlighted the (often missing) African perspective on this key international event. Together, they published 64 news pieces in 12 different publications, in 7 countries and 4 different languages.
So who are these talented young journalists covering the key environmental issue of our time? Please meet Lina, Luz, Andrew and Meriam:
MERIEM KHADRAOUI, TUNISIA
Meriem Khadraoui is a journalist and editor in chief at the Tunisian National Press Agency “Tunis Afrique Press”. She has more than 17 years of experience as a journalist and collaborates with newspapers and magazines in Tunisia and the wider region.
“At COP24, I have learned more in 2 weeks then I have in the past few years. It is such an intense experience to cover this summit. By approaching the conference from an outsider perspective, I was able to make it more relevant to the readers back home, helping them understand why this is so important and how it is impacting their daily lives.”
“As the only democracy in the region, Tunisia plays an important role in spreading information and awareness on climate change in North Africa. I’m happy I was able to contribute to that.”
LUZ RAZAFIMBELO, MADAGASCAR
Luz is a social journalist for the largest malagasy news paper, called Midi Madagasikara. In her work she has covered a broad range of social and environmental topics from across the country. Joining COP24, it was Luz her first journalistic experience abroad. Luz was the only journalist representing her country at the conference.
“Covering climate change topics is quite hard in Madagaskar. Although we suffer from a lot of environmental factors, and are one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, public knowledge on the topic is still really low.”
“My main challenge at COP24 was making the topic relevant for the local context of Madagaskar. I connected to my national delegation and was the only journalist from Madagaskar covering the topic. This was only possible by physically being at the COP, since the general stories that usually come out of this conference do not relate so much to my readers.“
ANDREW WASIKE, KENYA
Andrew is a journalist from Kenya working with Deutsche Welle covering East and Central Africa with a focus on humanitarian and environmental issues, through a segment called Planet Living. Most of his work is on radio and he has done numerous reports on climate change across East and Central Africa.
“Although I work for a big media house, Deutsche Welle is usually not capable of bringing journalists from their regional offices. Thanks to this scholarship, I was able to connect with some of my colleagues from the European offices, I was able to meet journalists from all over the world, and most of all, I could provide the African perspective to the people back home.”
“Back home in Nairobi, Kenya, it can be really hard to connect to government officials and experts. Here at the COP, all the experts and diplomats were gathered in one place, and willing to talk! I had interviews with presidents, ministers and experts from all over the world. Is was amazing.“
LINA YASSIN, SUDAN
Lina is a young journalist from Sudan. At 20 years old, she is participating in her 3rd COP as part of the Climate Tracker team. At 19 years old, Lina was selected by Climate Tracker to join COP22 in Marrakesh. Since then she has grown to be a known voice for climate change in her country, and has published in all mayor national newspapers in Sudan, in media across the MENA region, and in international outlets such as Climate Home News and The Ecologist.
“Although the Sudanese delegation was quite big at COP24, I was again the only journalist writing for Sudanese media from the climate conference. In the last few years I have connected closely to the delegations of Sudan and other MENA countries, and I use every opportunity I get to highlight what is at stake for the future of Sudan during these talks.”
“During the COP24 talks in particular, several MENA countries played a critical role in obstructing the acceptance of the recent IPCC 1.5 report as a key document informing the Paris Agreement. Using my past experience, I was able to portray the internal dynamics in the Arab negotiating group, significantly adding to the debate.“