MDI panel at UNESCO 2024 World Press Freedom Day

On 4 May, 2024 MDI organised a panel at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day entitled “Rewriting climate change narratives: artistic approaches to inclusive storytelling”.

Click here to replay the recorded discussion

This panel discussion was organised as a side event on 4 May in Santiago, Chile. It was designed with the support of Sabrina Faramarzi, Managing Director of Are We Europe. 

The issue of climate change has received varying levels of attention from the media over the years, but the impact on Indigenous communities and their role in mitigation has been under-represented. Local communities and marginalised groups are often the first to experience the impacts of environmental changes and are crucial stakeholders in climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. 

MDI’s panel explored innovative and artistic approaches to covering climate change while addressing the importance of diverse perspectives from vulnerable and marginalised groups in shaping the narrative. 

Our panelists talked about some of the key initiatives they have been involved in,  exploring how the use of different forms of storytelling can bring climate change stories to new audiences. 

Discussions focused on:

  • Understanding how different communities are uniquely affected by and contribute to climate change.
  • Exploring the intersection of climate change with issues such as race, gender, socio-economic status and indigenous rights, and how these intersections shape climate narratives.
  • Discussing strategies for journalists to actively engage communities in the storytelling process, fostering two-way dialogue and ensuring that narratives authentically reflect the experiences and concerns of those affected.
  • Addressing ethical challenges in climate reporting, including potential bias and misrepresentation, and provide guidance on how to navigate these challenges with integrity.

Our moderator was:  

Milica Pesic, Executive Director at Media Diversity Institute, UK

Milica Pesic is the Executive Director of Media Diversity Institute (MDI). She has been working in Diversity and the Media field for more than 20 years designing and supervising multi-national, multi-annual programmes in Europe, NIS, MENA, South Asia, the Sahel, Sub-Sahara, West Africa, China and Cuba. She has co-designed an MA Course in Diversity and the Media which is jointly run by MDI and the University of Westminster. A Journalist by profession, she has reported for the BBC, Radio Free Europe, the Times HES, TV Serbia, and other media. She holds an MA in International Journalism from City University, London. Prior to MDI, she worked for New York University, the IFJ (Brussels), and the Alternative Information Network (Paris). MDI has branches in the US, Western Balkans, Belgium and South Caucasus. 

Our panellists were:

Participant 1:  

Karla Mendes, Vice President and DEI Chair, Society of Environmental Journalists; Investigative Reporter, Mongabay; Fellow, Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network.

Karla Mendes is an award-winning Brazilian journalist working as a Rio de Janeiro-based investigative reporter for Mongabay and a fellow of the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network. Mendes is the first Brazilian and Latin American elected to the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ); she was also nominated SEJ’s Second Vice President and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair. Mendes has won several national and international awards. In 2023, she was a winner of the SEAL Environmental Journalism Award with distinction for her “powerful work covering the continued encroachment of global corporations into Indigenous Amazon lands” and 2nd place in the Lincoln Award. In previous years, Mendes won two SEJ Awards and the Fetisov Journalism Awards, among others.

Participant 2:  

Boris van Westering, Climate Journalism Development Expert, Netherlands.

Boris van Westering is an independent climate journalism development specialist. Boris is committed to fixing the information ecosystem around climate change and supports programme development which connects media, civil society, academia and the public /private sector. Boris has successfully worked on climate journalism projects with the Clingendael Institute, the Planetary Security Initiative, and the Stanley Center. Boris participated on behalf of Internews at the COP27 in Sharm-el Sheikh to advance the importance of independent journalism for increased climate accountability. Boris co-designed the Rewriting Climate Narratives project in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ).

Participant 3:  

Todd M Henry,  Documentarist, Filmmaker, New Zealand. [Remotely]

In his PhD studies, Todd is using photovoice methodology and is looking at human experiences of climate change and climate change-related migration in Tonga. As a photographer, he has been documenting climate change and other social issues around the Pacific for the past seven years. Having seen the effects of climate change across the Pacific, he feels that the adaptations made by Indigenous people through the use of their traditional ecological knowledge need to be celebrated and better understood by Western science. “In the photovoice project, I’ll put cameras into the hands of key individuals to understand how they experience climate change and displacement in Tonga. The photographs will be used to open up discussion points for interviews that will inform the findings. Later, if the participants agree, the photographs will be used to showcase an exhibition that will highlight key issues from the perspective of displaced communities and hopefully inform policy at the government level.” 

Participant 4 

Rayen Rupayan, Co-founder of the organisation Wechekeche ka Itrofillmongen (Youth and Biodiversity), Chile.

Rayen Rupayan is a 22-year-old Mapuche youth who co-founded the organisation Wechekeche ka Itrofillmongen (Youth and Biodiversity). She is a passionate advocate for the recognition of indigenous peoples as environmental defenders. She has been an active participant in various regional and international groups and events advocating for the human rights of indigenous peoples in relation to climate change, as well as an educator of indigenous knowledge for youth.

Participant 5

Constanza Dougnac, Journalist and FIMA Communications Coordinator, Chile.

Constanza Dougnac is a journalist, a project manager and the communications coordinator at the NGO FIMA. She works with various networks and organisations throughout Chile that need help to raise awareness of their causes and environmental cases. She is particularly active in the Escazú and Climate project, which aims to use the principles of the Escazú Agreement as a tool to fight climate change in Argentina, Colombia and Chile.

For more information, please contact, MDI Communications Director

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