Media professionals from Bangladesh and India called for a joint media strategy to promote better understanding of trans-boundary resource management between both the countries at a recent media dialogue organised by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature.
This demand came from a daylong event titled, “Media Dialogue on Trans-boundary Water Management: A Bangladesh-India Perspective” held in Bangkok on 7 December. The dialogue, organized by IUCN as a part of its regional project “Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative (E4L)”, brought together 20 distinguished media professionals that included editors, senior journalists, academia and practitioners from Bangladesh and India to establish a sustainable and mutually-beneficial relationship among media in the two countries. Ecosystems for Life is a civil society led multi-stakeholder trans-boundary dialogue process to promote better understanding of the management of natural resources in Bangladesh and India.
Welcoming the delegates, IUCN Asia Water Programme Head Ganesh Pangare said that the dialogue would allow representatives of media houses from Bangladesh and India to work together in facilitating greater interest among journalists in reporting trans-boundary issues thereby bringing positive changes.
“It will allow discussion in the public domain on common issues for trans-boundary water management, such as Food Security, Water Productivity and Poverty, Impacts of Climate Change, Inland Navigation, Environmental Security and Biodiversity Conservation,” he added.
Three panel discussions were held after presentations on the project and its activities were made by Frank van der Valk, Project Director, Bushra Nishat, Project Manager-Bangladesh and Kazimuddin Ahmed, Project Manager-India. Experts from both countries addressed the issues during panel discussions followed by question and answer sessions.
Addressing as the chair of the first panel discussion on A Media Strategy for Trans-boundary Resources Management, C. M. Shafi Sami, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh and former High Commissioner to India, highlighted the importance of a joint media strategy to work with the larger media in Bangladesh and India from a neutral perspective. The panelists supported this approach by IUCN, which would help media persons to report news based on scientific information rather than mainly from a political perspective. Good reporting was considered essential to provide the public, which needs to be involved in these dialogues, with reliable information. This will lead to a much-needed awareness of how important water and natural resources management are for people’s lives.
Chaired by Michael Dougherty, Head of IUCN Asia Communications, the second panel titled Environmental Journalism in South Asia in the Context of Bangladesh-India Trans-boundary Issues focused on the state of environmental journalism in South Asia. Panelists underscored the importance of field visits for journalists to ensure thorough and fact based environmental reporting. They also discussed the role of new media such as video on the web.
The final panel, chaired by Frank van der Valk, Project Director Ecosystems for Life, addressed Media and Regional Cooperation on Trans-boundary Issues. Panelists underpinned the role of organisations such as IUCN to provide reliable information in order to achieve better transparency in the often sensitive trans-boundary water issues. An investment in making scientific information accessible to the media would clear the way for better reporting and in the long run this would contribute to more regional trust.
As the participants in the dialogue expressed considerable interest in this initiative and the approach of IUCN, Frank van der Valk indicated in his final conclusion that the Ecosystems for Life project team will organize further follow-up steps.