MFWA marks WPFD 2024 with multiple events and engagements

Globally, Africa is the least contributor to the rise in greenhouse emissions, with a carbon footprint estimated at just 4% of the world pollution metric. However, communities across the continent are disproportionately impacted by a continuously worsening climate crisis. The sub-Saharan region, especially West Africa, is known to be one of the worst impacted by the climate crisis.

Amidst the worsening threat to human life, wildlife and ecology, journalists are playing a pivotal role – sometimes as activists – in calling attention to the existential threats and the attendant human suffering. As they spotlight the environmental issues and also expose perpetrators who hurt the earth to enrich themselves, they often face threats, opposition and danger.

Given the foregoing, the focus of the 2024 commemoration of World Press Freedom Day is apt and timely. The global theme for the commemoration: A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis, provides the appropriate opportunity to highlight the critical role of journalism in responding to the climate crises and the challenges that come with it.

Ahead of the official commemorative date of May 3, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is on May 2, organising a regional high-level webinar that will bring together media stakeholders, experts and journalists from the 16 countries in West Africa to deliberate on the theme: Journalism and the Growing Environmental Crises in West Africa.

The webinar will bring together journalists, climate activists and environmentalists, state actors, civil society organisations, academics and the general public to deliberate on the challenges confronting environmental journalism and ways to mitigate them. It will specifically highlight challenges that climate journalists face, including censorship, threats and attacks that they receive from individuals and corporations involved in degrading environmental practices such as unsustainable mining practices, toxic aquaculture, to mention a few. Participants are expected to proffer actionable solutions on how to collaborate and promote safer and healthier environmental practices.

At the national level, the MFWA is partnering with the government of Guinea Bissau, to host a major national public forum to mark World Press Freedom Day in the country’s capital, Bissau, on May 3. The event will bring together government officials, representatives from UNESCO, media stakeholders and journalists to deliberate on the situation of press freedom in the country.

The event in Guinea Bissau, forms part of an ongoing EU-funded three-year media freedom and freedom of expression project in the country, being implemented by the MFWA.

The WPFD event will be used to formally launch a National Comprehensive Framework on Safety of Journalists in Guinea Bissau, which has been developed with stakeholders under the EU-funded project.

“It is great to have the opportunity to bring together both state and non-state actors to deliberate on the state of media freedom and freedom of expression in Guinea Bissau and to launch a comprehensive framework that will help promote the safety of journalists in the country,” said Abigail Larbi, Director of the media and good governance programme at the MFWA, who will be joining in-country MFWA staff to mark the day.

In Ghana, the Executive Director, Sulemana Braimah, and other staff will be joining the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in the Eastern regional capital of Koforidua, for a national event to mark the day. The GJA event, which will be under the theme: Leveraging Journalism for a Sustainable Environment and Future will bring together government officials, traditional leaders, environmental experts and journalists.

Still in Ghana, Senior Programme Officer and Team Lead of Fact-check Ghana, MFWA’s fact-checking project, Kwaku Krobea Asante, will be facilitating a training programme for journalists on countering misinformation and disinformation in Koforidua. The programme is being organised by the Embassy of the United States in Ghana in collaboration with the Eastern regional chapter of the GJA.

 Ahead of the official commemorative day, the Executive Director of MFWA will be speaking on May 2 at an event being organised by the German Embassy in Ghana on the state of press freedom and freedom of expression in Ghana.

Across West Africa, national partner organisations of the MFWA will be engaged in different activities to mark the day.

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