Climate Journalism Through the Lens of Youth: SDSN Youth Participates at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Conference

Climate Journalism Through the Lens of Youth: SDSN Youth Participates at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Conference

SDSN Youth joined UNESCO's celebrations for 31st World Press Freedom Day Conference in Chile.

By Antonio Díaz Aranda, Global Events & Partnerships Lead at SDSN Youth

“What is the influence of journalism on the climate crisis, and how can it be a catalyst for change in society?”

Under this premise, the 31st World Press Freedom Day Conference took place from May 2-4 in Santiago, Chile, with the theme "A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis." SDSN Youth was present in the event through the participation of Antonio Díaz Aranda, Global Events & Partnerships Lead of SDSN Youth, who was invited as part of the Youth Multimedia Room and as a speaker at the plenary session titled "Facing a Future for All."

The conference was marked by the presence of prominent national and international figures, including UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, actor, producer, and environmental activist Gael García Bernal, former President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, and current President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, among others.

Key Points and Outcomes:

  • Impact of Misinformation and Disinformation: The spread of mis- and disinformation related to the climate crisis can undermine public and political support for climate action, effective policies, and protection for the most vulnerable communities affected by climate change.
  • Environmental Journalists at Risk: UNESCO's new report, "Press and Planet in Danger," reveals that 70% of environmental journalists have faced attacks related to their work.
  • Global Roadmap Against Climate Disinformation: One of the key outcomes of the conference will be the development of a UNESCO Global Roadmap against Climate Disinformation, which will outline the roles of governments, the media, academia, civil society, and digital platforms in supporting and protecting environmental journalists while promoting the integrity of online information about the environment and climate change. This initiative will be further developed in the lead-up to COP30 in Brazil.

Young Voices as Part of the International Narrative

During his forum intervention, Antonio emphasized the crucial role of storytelling as a tool that connects the emotional with the rational. He highlighted its ability to cultivate empathy by allowing readers to delve into the dreams, aspirations, fears, and concerns of those affected by climate change. Understanding these narratives is essential, particularly in comprehending the diverse impacts of the climate crisis on vulnerable groups such as women, children, youth, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities. In today's world, where those affected by climate change often become reduced to mere statistics, storytelling humanizes the data and brings forth the urgency of the situation.

In the realm of climate journalism, where reports and figures play a crucial role, finding the balance between the technical and the emotional aspects have become a challenge. While scientific analyses provide critical insights into the state of the climate crisis, so do the stories and narratives of those experiencing it. Through storytelling, we are reminded that behind each statistic lies a story that needs and deserves to be told.

One group harnessing the power of storytelling to amplify their voices is youth. Once merely part of the international narrative, young people are now actively engaging in digital media platforms to share their perspectives, experiences, and demands. This shift has revolutionized journalism, democratizing access to information and empowering marginalized youth voices to shape the narrative surrounding climate change.

Antonio's message underscores the importance of actively involving youth in journalism as key stakeholders in addressing the climate crisis. As young content creators, journalists, and activists raise their voices, organizations like SDSN Youth play a pivotal role in facilitating their engagement. Through various initiatives and programs, SDSN Youth empowers young individuals worldwide to contribute meaningfully to the global discourse on climate change and work collaboratively towards achieving the SDGs.

Finally, Antonio invited us to reflect not only on the stories we are generating but, more importantly, on the emotions and feelings these stories evoke. “We are living in complicated times, but the most important story we have, the story of our planet, is not yet over.”

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