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St.Kitts to Host OECS Communication Symposium on Climate Change

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(OECS Commission, Castries Saint Lucia):- The OECS Commission will host a Communication Symposium to demystify the complexities of communicating on climate change and its related issues.

The Symposium will be held at the St Kitts Marriott from June 18-19 and is targeted at media and communications personnel from around the region.

Officials at the OECS Commission working in the climate change programme note that, in implementing the awareness programme on the subject, “we recognise that people, who speak on the subject of climate change, communicate on a body of knowledge that is based on fluid scientific data, to people who are not necessarily interested in the science of climate change.

This we believe can hamper our goal of achieving behavioural change as persistent poor environmental practices are known to exacerbate climate change impacts” the officials added.

The main objectives of the symposium are to a) highlight challenges related to climate change and examine strategies to scale up best practices and maximise the use of available CC media products that already exist in the region; b) build the capacity and confidence of communication officers to design and implement effective CC communication approaches to different audiences, and c) build the interest of media reporters to drive public demand for information on their government’s climate negotiations.

Also speaking ahead of the Symposium, chief facilitator, Dr Maria Protz says that she is excited to join the OECS on this timely and important initiative, as it presents an excellent opportunity to take stock of past communication efforts in climate change for the purposes of scaling up best practices and learning lessons from case study experiences.

Commenting on the importance of climate change communications in the context of development, Dr Protz said that “without a doubt, when communication is well-planned, properly-resourced and fully integrated into development processes, priorities are more easily identified, consensus is easier to negotiate and achieve, critical learning is more easily fostered, and empowered decision-making and action for genuine, sustainable development is greatly enhanced – especially in ways that engage the most vulnerable.”

Communication Officers and media personnel admit that the vagueness and abstract nature of climate change, not only make it difficult to visualise but the vagaries in the science and predictions make the average person doubt its seriousness, and further complicates communication and awareness approaches.

The OECS Commission estimates that the Symposium will attract some 60 media and communications persons to this first time initiative. “We believe this is an opportunity to break down climate science to the extent that communicators who are tasked with varying roles of raising awareness, can better relate to, better visualize and better present the complex issue” says Tecla Fontenard, Communications Specialist at the OECS Commission and key planner of the Symposium.

Presenters for the workshop have been drawn from regional organisations that have wide experience and expertise in communicating on the subject with lessons and successes to share.

The Symposium is being held under the RRACC Project, which is funded by USAID.

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