Call for journalists to lead environmental action

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change permanent secretary Dr Sivendra Michael, left, EU Ambassador to the Pacific H.E Barbara Plinkert and Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna. Picture: VENIANA WILLY


The pivotal role of journalists in confronting the global environmental crisis was highlighted by Dr Sivendra Michael, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Dr Michael was the keynote speaker at The University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme’s World Press Freedom Day.

Against the backdrop of what he termed the “triple planetary crisis” encompassing climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, Dr. Michael emphasised the urgent need for societal transformation to protect planet Earth.

He underscored the vital role of journalists and media workers in informing the public about environmental challenges and responses.

Dr. Michael highlighted the underrepresentation of Pacific Island Countries (PICs) in global media coverage.

He stressed the importance of collaboration with local and regional media outlets to amplify stories of environmental injustices faced by communities.

Journalism students Jason Abel and Premilla Hinge during the World Press Freedom Day celebration at USP. Picture: VENIANA WILLY

He called on journalists to mobilise and empower others to drive change through their reporting.

Referencing recent negotiations on plastic pollution in Ottawa, Canada, Dr. Michael recounted the challenges faced by Pacific SIDS (Small Island Developing States) in advocating for their unique circumstances.

He praised the media’s role in disseminating real-time updates and garnering support from civil society, acknowledging their contribution to raising awareness on global platforms.

Recognising the risks journalists face, Dr. Michael hailed them as “fearless and daring individuals” and urged them to uphold values of trust, impartiality, and integrity in their reporting, particularly in combating disinformation amplified by social media.

Dr. Michael expressed gratitude to USP Journalism, the EU in the Pacific, and the Pacific Islands Forum for organising the event, highlighting the power of collaboration in addressing environmental challenges.

He encouraged further engagement between journalists and stakeholders to amplify environmental injustices and underscored the importance of press freedom in driving positive change.

Dr. Michael concluded his remarks emphasising the significance of the occasion and the urgent need for collective action in addressing the environmental crisis.

Meanwhile, also present at the celebration was the European Union Ambassador to the Pacific H.E Barbara Plinkert and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna. They also shed light on journalists being the face of environmental crisis.

Click here to read Dr Sivendra Michael’s full speech. WPFD 2024 – Keynote address by Dr Sivendra Michael, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change permanent secretary

Head of USP Journalism Associate Professor Shailendra Singh, Inoke Rabonu, Deputy Managing Editor News, Fiji Sun, Maureen Penjueli, Coordinator, PANG, and Reverend Dr Tafue Lusama, Director of the Institute of Climate Indigenous Knowledge, Pacific Theological College, during a panel discussion. Picture: VENIANA WILLY


Samuel Rohit is a third-year Journalism student at The University of the South Pacific

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