Project #11387

Climate Change - Give Local Journalists a Voice

by Internews

Thanks so much for your support! We successfully completed our project in Doha, Qatar!

Thanks in part to your contributions, we were able to take over 10 journalists to the COP this year, coming from all over the world. Having access to events and negotiations, in addition to the specialized training Internews provided to the journalists, we are happy to say that the fellows we were able to support this year gained invaluable experiences, lessons learned, and most importantly, were able to write dozens of reports to send back to their local news sources in their home countries around the negotiations.

And, this year for the second time in a row, Internews and the Earth Journalism network, in partnership with IIED, was able to put on a day-long event called "Climate Communications Day." More than 120 journalists, scientists, activists and communications experts gathered at the second annual Climate Communications Day to discuss how best to communicate climate-related issues.

Below is a write-up of the event:

Climate Communications Day at Doha Focuses on New Approaches to Reach New Audiences

Two female participants talk at the conference
Journalists, scientists, activists and communications experts gathered at the second annual Climate Communications Day to discuss how best to communicate climate-related issues. (credit: Internews)

As heads of state began to arrive in Doha last week to start the high-level COP18 negotiations towards a legally binding climate deal, more than 120 journalists, scientists, activists and communications experts gathered at the second annual Climate Communications Day to discuss how best to communicate climate-related issues.

The event was part of an annual program run by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) and the International Institute of Environment & Development (IIED).  Jamal Dajani, Internews’ Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, opened the December 4th event by welcoming the audience and thanking sponsors. James Fahn, Executive Director of EJN, noted that despite the struggle to address climate change with policy – or rather, because of it – interest in climate change communications seems to be stronger than ever.

Mike Shanahan of IIED, one of the event co-organizers, chaired the first plenary, “Reaching New Audiences,” which began with an overview on the methodology and data collection by BBC Media Action’s Climate Asia team. Their report aims to establish the best ways to use media and communications to provide people directly affected by a changing environment with the information they need to respond.

“It is essential to think about who you are speaking to,” said Tan Copsey of BBC Media Action. “This report aims to help communicators reach their audiences just as much as it looks at audiences’ reactions to communications.”

Examples were given of when innovative communication techniques were successful. But what works at a community level – such as participatory drama or school curriculum materials in Bangladesh – does not necessarily work nationally.

After the presentation, a panel of journalists from the USA, Brazil, Indonesia and Egypt discussed how to best communicate climate change to reach the new and diverse audiences (see summary blog post here). Discussions focused on topics such as the importance placed on good governance, both locally and nationally, gender issues, and the importance of knowing your audience’s needs.

The issue of language use for communicating on climate was raised throughout the day and featured in the second plenary, “Making Maps (and Sense) of Data.”

Bassam al-Kantar, the environment editor for Al-Akhbar newspaper in Lebanon, began the debate by highlighting the lack of software that is adaptable to the Arabic language when presenting data through maps on the internet. Panelists Arend Kuster from the Qatar-based organisation Q Science and Stuart Neil from the World Energy Council agreed that the real issue was money: translation is hugely expensive and resources are urgently needed to fund this gap in software development.

EJN Coordinator Willie Shubert went on to describe different mapping and visualization tools that can be used to present data and combine it with journalism. He presented a couple of examples of data journalism, the InfoAmazonia map platform of the Amazon region and similar climate data map of the US being developed by Internews that is expected to launch early next year.

The afternoon sessions focused on communicating climate change in ways that are fun and accessible– using games and comedy. Pablo Suarez and Carina Bachofen of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre demonstrated how and why participatory games can be useful in communicating climate change.

”I used to be very good at talking science and putting people to sleep,” said Suarez. “If you communicate in a way that is not unidirectional it is more likely to succeed.”

Fahn  went on to present a number of different ways comedy can be used to communicate on climate change. He presented cartoons and videos from around the world as effective ways to engage audiences in the issues surrounding the negotiations process as well as impacts of a changing climate.

The day closed with an awards ceremony for journalists Njenga Ndekere and Pilirani Tambala – from Kenya and Malawi, respectively – who both won trips to the summit through the Voices4Climate podcast competition run by the World Bank.

Also participating in the event this year were a dozen journalists from the Middle East and Africa who came to the summit and took part in a week-long Fellowship program designed to enhance their capacity to report on complicated, often scientific issues, to their home audiences.

This year’s Climate Communications Day event was made possible with generous support from the the World Bank’s Connect4Climate campaign and TerrAfrica, while the Fellowship program was also sponsored by the Global Campaign for Climate Action and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom.

Internews and the Earth Journalism Network have been hard at work! With the UNFCCC and Climate Communications Day just months away, we’re busy getting all of the logistics and details in place, carefully selecting fellows to attend the summit, and arranging thought provoking plenaries and breakout sessions.  

Climate Communications Day

Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) will host the 2nd Climate Communications Day at this year’s UNFCCC Climate Change Summit in Doha, Qatar. This year we will specifically examine how the wealth of environmental and scientific data available can best be harnessed to explain the issues surrounding climate change.

The day-long forum, an official side event of the UNFCC, will bring together journalists, bloggers, press officers, academics, scientists, IT professionals and other communications experts. Climate Communications Day focuses on exchanging insights, lessons learned and innovative approaches to spread news and information about climate change accurately and effectively.

New approaches to communicating climate change

Complex science and uncertain outcomes make climate change a difficult topic to communicate. In addition, communication regarding climate change can be negative - evoking doom and gloom scenarios – or too technical to be considered interesting by broader audiences. But climate change is likely to be the most important story of the century. So how do we reach these audiences? What are other ways we can communicate our messages so that they will be received by other people?

We’re so excited to discuss these topics and more over the course of Climate Communications Day. Stay tuned for more updates to come – we’ll be releasing the official Climate Communications Day schedule with detailed information on plenaries and breakout sessions. From there, you’ll have a better understanding of the important work you are funding.

We are nearly finished selecting the finalists who will attend as fellows to Climate Communications Day. Check back in for profiles, information, and stories from the journalists you are supporting.  

Once again, we would like to thank our Global Giving donors for your support. The importance of local media, especially in regards to climate issues, cannot be understated. In reporting back to their home country about big, international events like COP18, journalists are able to tell readers the information that is most relevant to them.

You are making all the difference to our journalist fellows, who rely on your support to attend this event. We are grateful for all the ways you support our cause.



The Earth Journalism Network supports journalists covering the environment in countries all over the world…explore the Earth Journalism Network and discover the many ways Internews supports open media worldwide.

Want to get involved in a whole new way, and have the opportunity to meet the journalists you support in person? If you’d like participate in our event, you can follow this link and register for Climate Communications Day in Doha, Qatar!




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Organization Information


Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.internews.org
Project Leader:
Amanda Frankel
Washington, D.C. United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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