For international broadcasting unions, the role of the media is not limited to covering disasters but also involves helping to raise awareness of risk before hazards strike
By Brigitte Leoni
CANCUN, Mexico, 2 June 2017 – International broadcasting federations have vowed to step up their work to spread information about disaster risk reduction to their audiences, thereby giving a critical boost to efforts by governments.
The pledge came at the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which wrapped up last week in Cancun, Mexico, and was made by representatives of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
The biennial Global Platform is the world’s top conference on efforts to curb the risk posed by natural and human-induced hazards, and the key messages in the ABU and EBU’s statement to the international meeting are set to be reflected in the official outcome document. In addition, they will be under discussion that the upcoming World Broadcasting Union meeting at the end of this month.
“We continue to be very committed as media play a crucial part in the implementation of the Sendai Framework in informing, alerting and educating populations,” said Ms. Natalia Ilieva, Head of the Secretary-General’s Office at the ABU.
“Since the Third UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015, we have worked with many Asian media broadcasting organisations and the issue is now very much on top of their agenda as their audiences are very vulnerable to disasters and in need for more information,” she added.
The 2015 conference, held in the Japanese city of Sendai, approved the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year international agreement to rein in deaths, the number of affected people and economic damage in disasters by tackling risk at source.
In the broadcasting unions’ Cancun statement, read by Ms. Ilieva and supported by outlets such as the Jakarta post, the Times of India, Malawi TV, and Nigeria Radio, the media representatives agreed to further disseminate vital data on the issues of climate change and disaster risk reduction to the widest possible print, radio, television and online audiences throughout the world. They also pledged to take positive and proactive measures in their organisations to produce creative, quality media coverage of efforts to mitigate risk, and to spotlight the human costs of inaction.
In addition, they said that they would follow the “all-of-society” approach that underpins the Sendai Framework, working with governments, civil society, research institutions, international agencies and other partners to ensure professional, accurate, timely and cogent risk messages .
“ The need for more accurate and timely information about all these issues has never been so urgent when there is so much false and inaccurate information circulating on the web. Broadcasters can help a great deal to alert and inform population and educate them on prevention initiatives that work well and save lives,” said Ms. Ilieva. She added that should like to see the media better integrated in national disaster risk reduction decision-making processes.
Mr. Giacomo Mazzone, Head of Institutional and Members Relations at the EBU, said: “The media needs to be part of the conversation and play a much bigger role from the beginning of the prevention process if we expect more action at local and national levels.”
“We hope that this will be recognized in the follow up mechanisms of Sendai and of Cancun. Disaster risk reduction policies without the media would be like a singer at the Eurovision Song Contest that has lost his voice the day of the final,” he added.