A series of webinars on climate change and agriculture allowed a panel of scientific experts and more than 100 journalists to discuss how to cover these stories in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Southeast Asia.
The series featured scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Journalists from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) moderated the discussions, with facilitation and coordination provided by the Global Forum for Media Development.
To see recordings of the events and a summary of each webinar written by EJN journalists, see below.
Latin America and Caribbean webinar: land-use change and emissions
More than 50 reporters who cover Latin America joined the first webinar on 12 February, which discussed trends in deforestation in the region and what land-use change means to the global climate. Experts and journalists discussed the associated challenges facing agriculture in Latin America.
Ana María Loboguerrero, the head of policy research at CCAFS, and Louis Verchot, leader of landscape restoration at CIAT, led the interactive discussion, which was moderated by EJN’s Fermín Koop.
Loboguerrero and Verchot presented their work and outlined challenges faced by the agriculture sector in Latin America, and Koop guided the session to help journalists contextualize these issues for reporting. Webinar participants interacted with the experts and asked questions, which could help lead to future investigative stories.
Loboguerrero highlighted emissions levels due to agriculture in Latin America, which shot up from 390 million tonnes in 1960 to more than 900 million tonnes in 2010. She said a major dilemma facing the sector is how to produce more food for a growing population while reducing the sector’s level of greenhouse gas emissions.
Verchot said agriculture, mining and deforestation cause most of Latin America’s emissions from land-use change. He focused on the upcoming IPCC report on land-use change and said that both scientists and politicians want more information due to the significance of these emissions.Fermin Koop
Southeast Asia webinar: climate-smart agriculture in action
What are the problems with the agriculture system? How can agriculture reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and simultaneously mitigate impacts of climate change and feed a growing population? What are the potential solutions that could increase productivity while reducing impacts on the environment?
These were the key questions the webinar “Communicating Climate Change’s Impact on Agriculture and Food in Asia” sought to answer. The panelists, Godefroy Grosjean, who leads the Climate Policy Hub at CCAFS, and Leocadio Sebastian, the Southeast Asia Regional Program Leader at CCAFS, discussed problems and potential solutions for agriculture together with around 40 journalists at the webinar held 19 February. The session was moderated by Ramesh Bhushal, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network South Asia Content Coordinator.
Sebastian began the webinar by providing an overview of the climate vulnerability of the Asia region, especially Southeast Asia, and the importance of the agriculture sector in ensuring food and nutrition security for its people. He shared some initiatives taking place in the region that adopt a participatory approach and use technology to help local farmers cope with climate change impacts.
Grosjean defined Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) as practices that increase productivity and resilience to climate change, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There are more than 1,700 CSA practices documented across 30 countries, and they fall largely under five categories: 1. water management, 2. intercropping, 3. crop tolerance to stress, 4. organic inputs and 5. conservation in agriculture.
The panelists shared examples of CSA in the region and policies that address the issue from both the supply and demand side. They emphasized the importance of mapping risks and using data to help farmers make decisions on ways to mitigate the risks, such as changing the types of crops they grow.
Reporters sent many questions to the panelists throughout the 90-minute webinar. They asked how the CSA can empower women, how governments can assist millions of farmers in Southeast Asia with limited financial resources and technologies to adapt to climate change, who usually leads the adoption of CSAs, how important it is to communicate the global story of climate change to the farmers, and how journalists can better communicate the problems and solutions of agriculture to the general public.Sim Kok Eng Amy
Africa webinar: adaptation and mitigation both matter
About 30 journalists joined the Africa webinar where experts and participants shared ideas and questions about how to effectively report on climate change and agriculture in Africa. The webinar, held 13 February, generated plenty of interest on adaptation, science, evidence and policy.
Moderated by David Akana, the Managing Editor at InfoCongo, and assisted by Michael Simire, Editor of EnviroNews Nigeria, the webinar featured Evan Girvetz, a senior scientist at CIAT’s Kenya office, and Solomon Dawit, East Africa Regional Program Leader at CCAFS.
The experts highlighted tools journalists can use to better convey how climate change and agriculture are intricately linked, and how the issues can be better reported. Discussions centered on some of the latest advances helping agriculture become more resilient, more productive and less of a burden on the environment.
Girvetz and Dawit pointed to the climate-smart agriculture, a central component of CCAFS, and the experts argued that CSA is one way for climate-change affected communities to build resilience while mitigating their impact on the environment by enhancing environment-friendly agriculture practices.
Journalists asked many questions on these issues. The experts said that while adaptation is important, journalists should also seek to understand mitigation as it is also critical for African countries. The scientists pointed to the work they are doing at country level. They also pointed to the country offices of CIAT for additional information for story leads and contacts.David Akana
About Earth Journalism Network
This webinar series was organized with Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN), which exists to improve the quantity and quality of environmental news coverage worldwide. The network currently has more than 6,000 journalist members from more than 130 countries. EJN conducts regular trainings and workshops to provide reporters with the tools and understanding to produce stories with greater reach and impact. Journalists are invited to become part of the Earth Journalism Network by registering to apply for current opportunities and stay informed about future trainings and events.