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Global Platform On DRR Needs Media as Partner

Media needs to become a real stakeholder in reducing the risk of disasters. This was the key message of the special high - level discussion between media representatives from the World Broadcasting Unions (ABU, EBU, AUB), World Association of Newspapers, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, Disaster Risk Reduction Network of Africa Journalists and international agencies involved in Disaster Risk Reduction – the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, World Meteorological Office and International Telecommunication Union. 

The dialogue about the role of media in accelerating the Sendai Framework, the global strategy for disaster prevention was engaged in by 192 countries world-wide and was held before the sixth session of the Global Platform for DRR in Geneva, Switzerland. Media representatives from the Asia – Pacific, Africa and Europe discussed how to fully integrate media in disaster risk reduction national plans and their implementation and how journalists  can help communities become more resilient. 

The special representative of the UN Secretary General for DRR, Ms Mami Mizutori, underlined the critical role media has to play in informing the population about disasters. In her words: “because of their mandate to serve society, public broadcasters are a key partner of the UN agencies in helping communities to survive disasters.” According to her, vital for achieving this goal are the effective and timely early warning systems through broadcast networks.

The Head of the World Meteorological Office, Prof. Petteri Taalas, said that without media, weather forecasts would be useless. The target now is to reach the largest number of citizens in the shortest possible time. 

The Secretary General of the AUB, Mr. Gregoire Njaka, put forth a very reasonable question: “What information can be more important than that which helps save human lives?”

Mr. Akinori Hasimoto, Executive Controller, NHK, made a compelling presentation of how his organization is putting to practice the recommendations of the Sendai framework and contributing to raising public awareness. “Disaster reporting is one of the main missions of the public broadcaster in Japan and in that way we meet the expectations of the audience.” Mr. Hashimoto spoke about the three stages of real time disaster information - real time gathering, multimedia dissemination and creating awareness for the future. He explained how NHK creates content that helps the audience to learn lessons from disasters. Part of it is the so called “scoop box”- a mobile app that provides platform for members of the public to share their own experience during disasters. BOSAI (translated as Disaster Prevention) is an internet site for disaster prevention which is a standard of excellence in that sphere. 

Ms Darin Kumnertrut  from another ABU member - Thai PBS, shared her experience in creating TV programmes on disaster risk reduction which are attracting a big audience. “Presenting interesting and relevant stories and building trust with the viewers is the secret for keeping long-running regular programme on air.”

The Director of ABU Technology and Innovation, Mr. Ahmed Nadeem, introduced the idea of ABU establishing a certification system for broadcast media. Receiving the certificate for DRR means that the Radio or TV station has a resilient network infrastructure, working Emergency Broadcast Plan and staff well trained on how to act in times of emergency and disasters.

The Head of the ABU SG's Office of ABU, Ms Natalia Ilieva, shared the outcomes of the 5thABU Media Summit on Climate Action and Disaster Prevention recently held in Kathmandu. She emphasized that the messengers are not ready to communicate the information concerning disaster prevention and mitigation.  There is an urgent need for a massive capacity-building programme to provide journalists with required knowledge and skills to “translate” the complex climate change and DRR issues into compelling stories that are relevant to ordinary people. She pointed out: “We have to move media from being reactive to being proactive and move the agenda from crisis reporting to climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness coverage, from counting bodies and loses to educating  communities and individuals to save their lives and livelihoods.” 

The main ABU Consultant on climate change and disaster prevention, Mr. Russell Isaac summarized the scale of the task ahead: “Media education for DRR is not a sprint but a marathon.” He added that the only way to keep the DRR stories alive in the “quiet” time between disasters is to establish regular programmes on radio and TV. 

The media representatives attending the Global Platform for DRR in Geneva issued a Media Stakeholder Commitment, which is part of the final statement of the forum.

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