Emmanuel Mar (seated, right) with USP Journalism staff: From left: Dr Olivier Jutel; head of USP journalism Dr Shailendra Singh; teaching assistant Eliki Drugunalevu; and Wansolwara supervising editor-in-chief, Irene Manueli.
A final-year journalism student of The University of the South Pacific (USP) has returned after covering the third Pacific Meteorological Council meeting in Nuku’alofa, Tonga from 20-24 July 2015.
Emmanuel Duane Mar’s trip was part of training for journalists and journalism students facilitated by the Secretariat of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to boost environmental reporting in the region.
Journalists from the Solomon Islands, PNG, Samoa, Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were given the opportunity to learn about climate change, its causes and impacts in the region, as well as the meteorological weather and climate forecasts, and what they meant, particularly in times of disaster.
For Emmanuel Mar, the training had been an eye opener on the level of awareness on climate change issues that many media personnel lack. He said working together with journalists from various countries across the region was a good experience.
The workshop allowed journalists to meet with the Tongan Meteorological Director, Mr Ofa Fa'anunu, and to get a greater mutual understanding of the role of the meteorological service and the role of the media.
From the training, Emmanuel Mar learnt that meteorological services work very hard to ensure that the public are informed of weather on a daily basis with sometimes limited staff and resources and that the media is critical in ensuring that the information from the meteorological services reaches the public.
He added that there is a need for more capacity building between the meteorological services and the media in order to improve information dissemination to the public.
As a USP student, Emmanuel Mar describes his experience as a challenging and fulfilling one.
“I have met people from all walks of life, races, backgrounds, and I have a wonderful life here. I would not swap USP for any other university in the region; it's just that good an experience,” he said.
Head of USP journalism, Dr Shailendra Singh, praised the SPREP initiative and foresight to train current and future journalists in environmental reporting.
In 2008 and 2010, USP journalism students had won environmental journalism awards organized by SPREP as part of its media outreach programme. USP journalism was recognised for its contribution to environmental journalism in the region.
Dr Singh said cooperation between USP Journalism and SPREP would be revived to help raise awareness about sustainable environment concerns through the media.
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