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Environmental journalism under siege

The climate and biodiversity crises have far-reaching effects, not only on the environment and ecosystems but also on billions of people around the world whose The stories of turmoil and loss deserve to be told. As with any crisis, journalists must act as storytellers and expose what is happening.’working on the front lines of our collective fight for the health of our planet and our fight for a livable life.‘This year’s World Press Freedom Day and the 31st World Press Freedom Day Conference will be dedicated to the journalists who tell these decisive stories and the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the current global environmental crisis .

Environmental journalism under siege

Journalists and other media workers are vital to reporting on the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and environmental justice. Their work informs people about the dangers these issues pose and the threat to our planet. It also mobilizes and empowers everyone to ‘take action for change.’ Environmental reporting ensures accountability so that environmental vandalism does not go unpunished, but it has also become an increasingly dangerous profession.

dozens of journalists reporting on illegal mining, logging, poaching and other environmental issues have been murdered in recent decades with impunity. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)In the past 15 years, there have been around 750 attacks on environmental journalists and news organizations reporting on environmental issues, and the frequency of these attacks is increasing.

According to the IPIone of the key One of the risk factors for environmental journalists is having to travel to remote parts of the world where police protection and respect for the rule of law are lacking. Other risk factors described in the report include:

  • Journalists having to become first responders after natural disasters.
  • Hostility against climate and environmental activists.
  • Lack of access to information from both public institutions and private companies.

Misinformation and disinformation around the climate crisis

As with the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts and crises around the world, misinformation and disinformation campaigns challenge scientific knowledge and research on climate change, biodiversity loss and air pollution, encouraging doubt and disbelief. Misleading and false information can affect how people view environmental problems, their impact and urgency, and weaken the international community’s efforts to address them. Attacks on science, which question its validity, can seriously threaten a “Pluralistic and informed public debate.

In the context of the ‘triple planetary crisis’, dis- and Misinformation can cause a lack of trust and political support for climate action, effective policies, and protection of vulnerable communities affected by climate change. In particular, this affects women and girls, as climate change can exacerbate pre-existing inequalities.

Environmental journalism: also a European issue

Contrary to what one might think, journalists and media workers who report on environmental and climate issues in the European Union region have been subjected to threats and even arrested by the police.

The most common form of attack on environmental journalists in Europe is legal harassment, in particular the use of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). These lawsuits seek to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. In Brittany, journalists who report on the human situation and environmental The impact of agriculture faced a series of attacks, including ‘SLAPP lawsuits, financial retaliation, death threats, harassment and physical assault.

According to a Council of Europe reportsome progress and measures have been achieved has been taken to prevent and end impunity. These include the adoption of the European Media Freedom Law and the EU anti-SLAPP Directive, as well as the Council of Europe’s Journalists Matter campaign and anti-SLAPP recommendations. Even so, journalists and media workers continue to risk their lives.’trying to bring us news about everything from war to democracy.As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says in his World Press Freedom Day message, “a free press is not a choice, but a necessity.”