Brainstorming with the media on climate change in Vietnam

Participants of the media workshop conducted in Vietnam.
Nov 27, 2014

by

Georgina Smith (CIAT Vietnam)

Scientists and journalists in Vietnam talk about climate change

Twenty-seven journalists from a broad range of media outlets in Vietnam attended a two-day seminar in Hanoi recently, which aimed to stimulate better information sharing between agricultural researchers and the media.
 
A panel of experts from CGIAR Centers and national partners shaped the discussions, with an introductory speech by Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, and Rural Development, Dr. Quoc Doanh Le.
 
Climate change poses a serious threat to the future economic growth of Vietnam, with natural disasters causing 1.5 percent in GDP loss annually, said Dr. Quoc Doanh Le. “Our major concern is the extent to which climate change will affect poor households,” he said.
 
“Raising awareness about this issue plays a very important role,” he added. “The media is our powerful partner in engaging key stakeholders, influencing their behavior and mobilizing them to initiate collective climate change mitigation and adaptation action in Vietnam.”
 
During the seminar, research highlighting progress in Vietnam related to carbon sequestration and the REDD+ initiative, soil fertility in upland areas, climate suitability of key crops including rice, coffee and cassava, agroforestry, zoonotic diseases and the vulnerability of aquaculture systems were discussed.
 
Presentations on rice adaptation in the Mekong Delta and research related to the Climate Smart Village initiative prompted interest from the media, with questions asked about how farmers can access new technologies developed by researchers. 
Duong Van Son from the Thai Nguyen University in discussion with journalists

Connecting media, policy makers and farmers

The media, it was noted, provide a vital connection not only between researchers and policy makers, but also between researchers and farmers – for example by raising awareness about new rice varieties and how traits such as drought-tolerance or disease-tolerance can bring benefits.
 

A “story ideas” marketplace, which aimed to match messages presented by research panellists and story ideas for journalists to pitch to their editors, resulted in an interesting discussion about how to reach farmers with messages about climate change, such as highlighting real-life stories of affected farmers.

Discussions also touched on the difficulty of reporting climate change – some weather events cannot be directly related to climate change, for example. In those cases, experts can provide science-backed explanations.

A field trip to the Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Institute included a visit to tea research areas, livestock and crop system plots and soil fertility trials, to highlight adaptation measures currently being trailed in Vietnam. For example, tea cultivation on sloping land to protect the soil from rainfall run-off.

Highlighting agriculture in the climate change agenda

“This workshop is a very important first step as we engage policy makers and stakeholders to include agriculture in the climate change agenda through the help of the media,” said Leo Sebastian, CCAFS Regional Program Leader for Southeast Asia.

“We often see climate change mitigation and adaptation plans being unveiled with no or very little mention of agriculture,” he added. “We also hear good pronouncements of improving adaptation and resilience of our farmers to climate change, but actions to be pursued aren’t clear,” he said.

Working together with the media is therefore key to influence an enabling environment for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, he noted.

During the seminar, journalists published a wide range of reports covering climate-smart agricultural models, highlighting topics including the benefits of intercropping on sloping land and new salt tolerant rice varieties.

 

workshop participants in nomafsi office

 

Next steps

Building long-term collaboration with the media was discussed, including media campaigns to highlight climate change among different target audiences.

Nguyen Duong, country coordinator for Redraw the Line Vietnam, said: “The media workshop offered journalists from all over the country a unique chance to discuss and interact with leading scientists in the field of agriculture, food security and climate change in Vietnam.”

“We expect to establish a stronger network between journalists themselves, between journalists and scientists; and between journalists and project officers from partnering institutions.”

The workshop was organized by Redraw the Line – Media Alliance and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam, in collaboration with CCAFS, and other CGIAR Centers including CIAT, IRRI, CIFOR, ICRAF, ILRI and  WorldFish.

Media coverage of the seminar and climate related issues:

Communicating climate change and food security 

Communication, climate change and food security 

Climate-smart villages to cope with climate change 

Communication plays an important role for climate change

Vietnam TV: Communicating climate change in Vietnam

News Source: CIAT website