Climate change: Burning Questions for the Media

Climate Change Seminar

Aidcom, together with UNISEL, organised a two-day regional seminar in September 2014 titled Climate Change: Burning Questions for the Media. The event received good participation from the public, especially the media fraternity including New Straits Times, Berita Harian, The Edge, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Publishing. Some non-governmental organisations participated in the event too such as EcoKnights, MESYM and Greenpeace. The first day was focused on science and background of climate change, while the second day is focused on the role of media reporting on climate change. 

Keynote speaker Ir Jaseni Maidinsa, who is the General Manager of Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang, delivered a thought-provoking speech on how to solve the coming water crisis due to climate change. 

In the first session chaired by the British High Commission Climate Change and Energy Attaché Mr Murugadas Loganathan, the Chairperson of Centre for Environment Gurmit Singh talked about the science and background of climate change. 

The next session had the Deputy Undersecretary at the Environmental Management and Climate Change Division of the Natural Resources Ministry, Dr Gary W Theseira, talking about Malaysia's efforts in mitigating and adapting to climate change. The session was chaired by Ms Josie Fernandez, the Special Representative for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (SCRIPS).

The afternoon session saw two speakers talking about the need for a paradigm shift in dealing with climate risks in Asia. Dr Joy Jacqueline Pereira, who is a Professor at the Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention Research Initiative housed in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, talked and discussed the findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. The second speaker, Ms Hilary Chiew, talked about the adaptation part of climate change. Ms Chiew is a researcher for the Third World Network and the session was moderated by Dr Hezri Adnan, who is the Director for the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS). 

The last session of the day had Mr Gordon J Thomas, who is the coordinator for Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS), talking and sharing how the local communities especially in Borneo, carry out their daily activities in sustainable manner. Mr Thomas also shared instances on how the local communities are already impacted by climate change. The session was chaired by Mr Colin Nicholas, founder and coordinator for Centre for Orang Asli Concerns. 

The second day started with Mr Balan Moses of ABN Media Group discussing media’s role in climate change reporting. The session was moderated by the Dean of UNISEL’s Faculty of Communication and Media, Prof Dr Azmuddin Ibrahim. 

In the second session of the day, Mr Shaarad Kuttan and Jason Lim of BFM89.9 shared some interviews the radio station had with some environmental journalists who shared their challenges in writing about environmental issues in Malaysia. Both then discussed and suggested methods to overcome these challenges. The session was chaired by Dato’ Azman Ujang, a columnist and a former Editor-in-Chief of Bernama. 

The afternoon session was a breakout session where participants were separated into two groups to discuss the challenges and solutions on getting climate change reporting to be reported constantly by the media. They then presented their findings. 

In the last session, Mr Zaharom Nain, a professor of University of Nottingham, moderated a panel session that comprised on Ms Chiew and Ms Firoza Burhanudeen who is a lecturer at UNISEL. They discussed on the importance of media taking a firmer role on climate change, as media are the agents of change. 

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