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Environment

Global Media Forum tackles 'greatest challenge of the 21st century'

Climate change is the focus of Deutsche Welle's third annual Global Media Forum. The media's influence on the development of this issue is the main discussion topic for the participants.

Official poster of the Global Media Forum 2010

The Forum has been a platform for diverse opinions

In his introductory speech at this year's Global Media Forum, Werner Hoyer, Germany's Deputy Foreign Minister, emphasized that climate change is not just a scientific and environmental topic. The Forum in Bonn is organized by Deutsche Welle and runs from June 21 to 23.

According to Hoyer, climate change is also related to foreign affairs, security and defense.

"Climate change has everything a story needs to make headlines around the world," said Hoyer. "Everyone has heard of it and has an opinion on it. It is discussed extensively and emotionally. It directly influences many people's lives and can further escalate existing conflicts or even cause new ones."

Werner Hoyer at the Global Media Forum 2010

Hoyer believes climate change will affect basic aspects of our lives

However, Hoyer also pointed out that the huge media focus on climate change in recent times raises the question, "Does this topic offer us anything that is new or newsworthy?"

According to Swiss adventurer and balloonist Bertrand Piccard, the stale state of this issue is a problem for journalists right now. He believes that people need to find completely new ways to solve the energy problem and that humanity's greatest current challenge is to stop being dependent on fossil fuels, even though this notion is often presented as "boring" and as something that will lower our standard of living.

"This is your challenge in the media - to show it as the most interesting and exciting adventure that we can have in the 21st century," said Piccard.

As a small demonstration of things that are possible without fossil fuels, Piccard himself is planning to circumnavigate the world in a solar-powered plane.

More awareness is needed

Tupou Vere, a human rights activist from Fiji, nodded in agreement as Piccard delivered his speech. She believes that the media should do more than just report on big climate conferences like the one in Copenhagen in 2009. For her, journalists play an important role in showing "the human face of climate change."

Bertrand Piccard at the Global Media Forum 2010

Piccard is passionate about promoting independence from fossil fuels

Vere wants to remind us that the South Pacific island nation of Fiji is a military dictatorship that restricts the work of local journalists or makes it completely impossible. She finds the outcome of the global climate study that Deutsche Welle released together with market research institute Synovate interesting. The study shows that the number of climate-change skeptics is rising. Nine percent of the 13,500 people from 18 countries surveyed think that they do not need to worry about anything because they believe climate change is a natural phenomenon.

Radio journalist Tahura Titi Gabi is unsure how she should deal with this topic. She comes from Papua New Guinea, where "people really don't understand what it is."

"We see it, we feel it, but there is not enough information out there to tell them what it is and what we can do about it," said Gabi. "The first thing would be to help us raise more awareness back home."

During the forum discussions, it became clear that climate change is not just a challenge for scientists and environmentalists, but also for journalists.

Author: Sandra Petersmann (ew)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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