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ABU Pacific media conference comes at critical time

This year’s ABU Pacific Media Partnership Conference in Samoa occurred at a place and time critical for many reasons.

Not only was the theme “Safeguarding Tomorrow: Building media sustainability in the Pacific” directly relevant to many island nations confronting global warming and sea level rises, but the media around the region are facing their own challenges of sustainability in a rapidly evolving digital age.

This message was driven home in the Keynote Speech from Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mrs Afioga Fiame Naomi Mataafa.

She said climate change was the most topical issue not just because she was the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, but also as a human being.

While acknowledging there was good reporting about climate change, broadcasters needed to work with the communities so that people could take back the agenda about climate change and how it is affecting them and their planet.

She also said the high rates of domestic violence in the Pacific and globally meant 50 per cent of the population unable to fulfil their potential was very perilous for any country.

She urged that – as well as news about war, destruction and fighting – people needed to celebrate good stories and set the agenda to continue to be a relevant organisation to service the ABU.

The importance of gatherings such as the PMPC were stressed by TV1 Samoa host, CEO Faiesea Matafeo, in welcoming delegates.

She said sustainability was an important challenge everywhere but was especially critical in the Pacific region, given its geographic spread and diversity across the world’s greatest ocean.

The two strands were also brought together in Apia by guest speaker Nisha, Director of Office and UNESCO Representative to the Pacific States.

She said the marriage between science and environment journalism was a critical one for climate reporting but one that was challenged by financial pressures that media houses have come under. She hoped media would increasingly demonstrate awareness of the complexity of climate-change.

“Media need to contribute to professional dialogue around the ethical dimensions of climate change,” she said. “Journalists must seek clarity from scientists, while scientists and climate advocates must demand of journalists that the journalists resist the temptation to oversimplify or hype the latest empirical findings.”

In thanking the Deputy Prime Minister and other guests, ABU Secretary-General Dr Javad Mottaghi said the great value of the PMPC was that it focused on Pacific Islands broadcasting and new media issues and acted as a bridge with ABU members throughout the Asia-Pacific and globally.

“It is also a great opportunity for ABU Pacific Islands Members to keep up-to-date with new developments right across the media – radio, television and online,” he said.  “It is an excellent platform for mutually beneficial exchange of information, experiences, lessons learned, case studies and most of all member-to-member networking.”

He thanked the Samoa Broadcasting Corporation for hosting the PMPC and reminded delegates that the ABU would continue to be very active in the Pacific Islands region, with the next two year’s PMPCs in Vanuatu and Tonga and the 2020 Robocon finals and the 2021 ABU General Assembly in Fiji.