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Media ‘needs courage’ in covering disaster risk reduction

The media needs to show courage in reporting on the risk of disasters, the ABU climate change conference in Jakarta was told today.

The Director of the ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of UN ESCAP, Shamika Sirimanne, said the media should never let governments and international organisations lose sight of the risks. It was a journey of self-discovery, she said.

Dr Sirimanne noted that it was the “poorest of the poor” who were worst affected by natural disasters in Asia, often because they were living on marginal land. 

The Senior Regional Communication Officer of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Brigitte Leoni, urged media organisations to appoint specialists to cover environmental and disaster risk reduction issues.

At the same time she said the UN needed to learn to work more closely with social media, not just the traditional media, on disaster risk issues.

Dr Rajib Shaw, Professor at the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies at Kyoto University, urged the media not to forget what he called “silent disasters” such as drought, as well as to cover “silent pockets” within mega disasters.

He also urged the media to do more to provide local information to communities hit by a natural disaster, to help them cope in the aftermath.

The Director of External Relations at the Asian Development Bank, Satinder Bindra, chaired the session. He said the role of the media was crucial in helping governments and international organisations adapt to the risk of disasters.

The Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction is organised by the ABU and hosted by Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

Reported for the ABU by Alan Williams.