Ahead of the 2013 World Climate Summit in Warsaw, journalists from various countries took part in DW Akademie's online workshop that focused on issues relating to climate change.
Twenty-five environmental journalists based in India, Armenia, Brazil and seven additional countries are sitting at their computer screens, headphones plugged in. They will be talking with Achim Steiner who based in Nairobi, Kenya. Steiner is the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, UNEP.
"How has the financial crisis affected investments in renewable energies?" one participant asks. "The crisis certainly hasn't helped," responds Steiner, "but the cost of renewable energy sources is in fact coming down. Global awareness regarding climate change is increasing."
This interactive video conference concluded the five-week e-learning workshop "Reporting Climate Change". It was organized by DW Akademie ahead of the 2013 World Climate Summit and gave selected participants from developing and emerging countries an opportunity to intensely prepare for the conference. Weekly live sessions with renowned climate experts and scientists, as well as practical modules and extensive background information, were all part of this specially designed e-learning platform.
"The participants are now reporting from the Warsaw summit with our support. At huge conferences like this journalists are usually so busy that it's difficult to give them complete support on site. That's why it was important for the e-learning workshop to take place in advance in order to give participants a chance to discuss the most pressing questions and content ahead of time," explains DW Akademie project coordinator, Oliver Schilling.
Climate funds and the greenhouse effect
The platform was created with a special software that functions even in regions with low bandwidth. "It's important to keep technical hurdles to a minimum because domestic and international climate issues are among the most pressing ones we face," says e-learning project manager, Henner Weithöner. "At the same time negotiations are becoming increasingly complicated and that mean journalists have to be exceptionally well-prepared."
The participants live in some of the countries most affected by climate change. "In India we can already feel the effects but most people don't realize that we have to change our ways," comments Pramila Moachur Krishnan, a reporter with Deccan Chronicle. "The online workshop has helped me push ahead climate change discussions in India."
In addition to practical sessions the e-learning workshop offered opportunities for online interviews with acclaimed scientists and experts involved in the area of climate policy. They included Salemuul Huq, a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC). Probir Kumar Sarker, a workshop participant and editor at the Dhaka Tribune (kursiv) in Bangladesh, says he benefited from the online sessions. "Bringing environmental journalists and scientists together this way enabled an intense knowledge transfer that could hardly have been possible otherwise."
Holger Hank, head of DW Akademie's digital division, is convinced by this new training approach. "Holding an online press conference shows that teaching and learning online is becoming an important component of DW Akademie's work."