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Loud and clear: taking climate action on the radio

July 6, 2023

By Jacqueline Tucci

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The voices, knowledge and ideas from people most affected by climate change are rarely heard in the media. The urban poor, farmers, Indigenous communities, and vulnerable women in the Global South tend to be absent from most climate policy conversations at national or international levels, partly due to lack of access to information and platforms to express their views. As a result, for the most part, people at the forefront of the climate crisis do not have real opportunities to help shape the policy responses promoted by their governments.

In Colombia, an innovative project to protect the moorlands, which provide 70% of the country’s water and are under threat due to extractive activities, is beginning a second phase. Eleven citizen reporters – who were trained during the project’s initial phase – have produced hundreds of pieces of environmentally-focused multimedia, including radio bulletins, videos, photography, and digital content. Through the second phase of the project, even more multimedia content will be created by a larger number of trained reporters, with special programs in place to develop women and youth.

Colombia is home to 50% of the world’s moorlands, called the Páramos. They are high plateau moorland ecosystems which sit between the tree line and permanent snow line of the Andes – they are essential ecosystems in Colombia. The protection of the Páramos is one of Colombia’s most pressing environmental concerns, but despite national and international regulations for their protection, regional and national government instability has contributed to the advancement of extractive activities which degrade the area.

During the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 26) in 2021, Colombia committed to the proper care of the biomes in their territory, but while the country will begin a delimitation process to protect the moorlands, many communities still rely on agricultural activities in the region for their livelihoods. To ensure a delimitation process that is fair to all, strong citizen participation is required.

To address this immediate need, PWRDF has partnered with the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and Grupo Comunicarte to extend a people-led environmental protection project which trains a network of environmental citizen reporters to disseminate information and knowledge, encourage cooperation among Indigenous, farming, and Afro-descendant communities inhabiting the moorlands and related ecosystems and provide tools to influence the care and conservation of the Páramos.

The first phase of this project – called Voices of the Andean Moorlands – recently concluded and focused on actively involving as many citizens as possible in a fair delimitation process that responds to the needs of both the Páramos biome and the communities that inhabit these areas. The project has been extended for three years and began its second phase in January of this year.

This phase of the project seeks to build upon the success of the initial three years of activity and to expand the project’s reach and scope. Utilizing multimedia community communication – especially radio stations with influencing capacity – this project has generated an environmental culture focused on citizen responsibility for knowledge and care of the Páramos, which the second phase will grow and develop. Media has traditionally been a male dominated sector and continues to be disproportionately male in Colombia. The participation and leadership of women within the network of reporters and on environmental public policy has been promoted through the project’s initial phase and will continue to be prioritized, with a goal of having women make-up 50% of all trained reporters.

Grupo Comunicarte – a Colombian organization based in Bogota – has been leading the implementation of this project in Colombia. They work collaboratively with a network of community radio stations located in areas of Páramos ecosystem across the country. Grupo Comunicarte is a long-standing member and project partner of WACC, and their work centers around building communication strategies to strengthen the social fabric of communities across Colombia to promote greater equity, social and environmental justice and to foster sustainable and democratic development.

Read more about this project and partner in the June 2023 issue of Under the Sun.

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