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Middle East/North Africa

Jordan: A stronger focus on environmental issues

A conference in Amman brought together journalists, political actors and scientists to discuss Jordan's media coverage of environmental issues. Their goal: to raise public awareness about the impact of climate change.

Irrigation in the Jordan Valley: Workshop participants visited asolar project developed by the German Jordanian University, photo: DW Akademie/Mohamed Haddad

Irrigation in the Jordan Valley: Workshop participants visited asolar project developed by the German Jordanian University

Lower rainfall, increased drought, higher temperatures and rising sea levels on the Gulf of Aqaba, are just some of the possible results of climate change affecting Jordan. Environmental problems there are further complicated by factors such as garbage disposal and road traffic.

Participants discussed these and related issues at a one-day conference on climate change and the media, held June 1 in the Jordanian capital, Amman. They took a closer look at how Jordan’s media are covering the impact of climate change, as well as how to encourage journalists to report more on its effects.

The conference followed a three-day DW Akademie workshop that brought together TV, print, online and radio journalists. They had worked on techniques for breaking down the abstract idea of climate change into stories that were easier to understand and more appealing to audiences.

Making climate change a priority

Workshop participants researched environmental issues, with support from trainer Antje Bauer, photo: DW Akademie/Mohamed Haddad

Workshop participants researched environmental issues, with support from trainer Antje Bauer

Speaking at the conference, Ralf Schröer, Germany's Deputy Ambassador to Jordan, called on Jordanian journalists to raise the public's interest and awareness about serious environmental issues.

Raouf Dabbas, Senior Advisor at Jordan's Ministry of Environment, was pleased that journalists and members of the country's political and scientific communities had come together for the first time. He pointed to a challenge facing many emerging economies - how to balance fast economic growth with climate protection.

Professor Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) stressed the urgency of the problem. 2016 had started off with unusually high temperatures, he said, and with further increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. While not everyone was feeling the impact directly, he said, it was already visible, and pointed to melting polar icecaps as an example.

Levermann called the 2015 Paris Agreement a landmark; it's a legally binding accord adopted by 195 countries to keep global warming to below two degrees celsius. He highlighted the agreement's self-control mechanisms, where countries are now to annually announce their emission goals, and to undercut them the following year. This guarantees an overall emission reduction.

Alexander Fischer, political advisor at the German Federal Environment Ministry, said Germany was setting a positive example, with an aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 85 - 90 percent by the year 2050.

Role of the media

Field trip to the Yarmouk Nature Reserve in the remote border area between Israel and Syria, photo: DW Akademie/Antje Bauer

Field trip to the Yarmouk Nature Reserve in the remote border area between Israel and Syria

On the subject of making climate and environmental issues more relevant to readers, viewers and listeners, participants agreed that media reports are often too complex or scientific. The Jordanian journalist Ahkam Al Dajani and Professor Levermann pointed out that audiences would understand the issues more easily if journalists used examples and comparisons.

It was also important for civil society to talk about environmental issues, the two speakers said. A member of the audience commented that the media would only report more on the issues if the public showed more interest in the topic. Another comment from the audience called for editors-in-chief to commission more reports on environmental issues.


Yarmouk University lecturers planning a presentation on water scarcity, photo: DW Akademie/Antje Bauer

Yarmouk University lecturers planning a presentation on water scarcity

The four-day event "Learning about climate change - lessons for the Middle East: Jordanian and German perspectives" was held May 29 - June 1, 2016 in Amman. The aim was to sensitize media professionals about climate change and to encourage them to report more on environmental and climate change-related issues. The event was organized and conducted by the German Embassy in Amman, the German development agency GIZ and DW Akademie.

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