17 July 2009
Scientists, university teachers and environmental activists learned how to communicate climate change issues in Central Asia in two recent UNESCO-sponsored workshops.The workshops in Almaty (July 1-3) and Dushanbe (July 6-8) were designed to improve the ability of experts to explain climate change research to policy makers and public audiences.
The 20 participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan gained practical experience in presenting to small groups, conducting interviews, responding to questions at a press conference, and writing press releases, fact sheets and talking points.
The workshops also covered communication strategy, audience segmentation and ethical issues between scientists and journalists.
Central Asia faces serious climate change and environmental issues—from the melting of glaciers and depletion of water resources to deforestation, soil erosion, the loss of agricultural land and urban pollution.
UNESCO believes that communicating these issues clearly to politicians, industry leaders and other decision-makers is essential to shaping public policy and legislation. Communicating through the media increases public interest and keeps climate change on the national agenda.
“Scientists need to do a better job of telling the climate change story to all audiences,” said trainer Dr. David Mould, Professor of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University (U.S.A.). “That’s the only way to make sure that governments not only take action but base their policies and projects on solid scientific evidence.”
The participants came from technical fields including hydrology, environmental science, climatology and biodiversity. The workshops were organized by the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office in cooperation with the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and Internews Network Tajikistan.
“Despite the fact that the training lasted only for three days, the programme was very intense, interesting and useful,” said Elina Zyskova, a docent of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (KRSU), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
“It was interesting to communicate with specialists of various disciplines, to learn about their research work, to share the findings, which are to a greater or lesser degree related to the climate change issues, both globally and in the Central Asian context.”
The project was jointly conceptualized by UNESCO's communication and science programmes.