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Copenhagen Climate Conference: Call to Action to protect environmental journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - Copenhagen, 11 December 2009 - At the UN Conference on Climate Change, 14 international, regional and national press freedom organisations are calling on world leaders to protect environmental journalists and give them access to the information they need to cover climate change and the environment.

With an increasing number of violent attacks on journalists covering environmental and climate change issues, there is an urgent need for action. At a press briefing, International Media Support, Reporters Without Borders, Internews and International Institute for Environment and Development on behalf of all the signatories presented a call to action stating:

"Media and press freedom organisations call on the world's leaders to reaffirm their pledge to Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and urge all governments to practice transparency in access to information and to protect journalists reporting on environmental issues and climate change."

The signing organisations insist that the media must be free to report on environmental issues if the world is to address the challenge of climate change. By serving as a watchdog on recalcitrant governments, the media expose the corruption, nepotism and negligence that obstruct efforts to protect the environment. Journalists are also crucial in efforts to raise awareness and meet the Rio Declaration's objective of engaging and involving the general public in decision-making.

Speaking at the press briefing, Jesper Hojberg, Director of International Media Support, said: "The media play a key role in engaging the public in the fight against climate change through their stories and research. Their work also helps to maintain pressure on governments to keep their promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Vincent Brossel, Head of the Asia desk of Reporters Without Borders, said: "Some country delegations here in Copenhagen should explain why in their respective countries, journalists and activists investigating environmental issues are jailed, beaten, threatened or censored.

If Uzbekistan, Russia, China, Burma or Indonesia, for example, do not respect the right of their media to inform on such crucial issues, how we can expect them to really commit to fight climate change?"

James Fahn, Global Director of Internews Earth Journalism Network, added: "When climate change reporters move into the field and cover illegal logging and pollution, they face dangers similar to their colleagues covering the crime beat."

Download the Call to Action:
Call_for_better_protection_for_environmental_journalists.pdf (283 KB)

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