We are living in a planet that is increasingly affected by the lifestyle choices we make.
“The current ‘business as usual’ development strategies should be seriously reconsidered in response to the climate change threats that are increasingly taking place,” said Prof Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia’s Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Change. Prof Witoelar opened the Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVForum) 2010 Conference, “A Green Future: Asia and Europe Growing Sustainably” in Munich on 2 September.
According to Prof Klaus Toepfer, former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Asian and European countries needed to find the path to a more sustainable and green future as the world gears up toward the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012 and leaves behind its “black past”.
In this context, the media and other players in the creative communication industry have an important role to play. ASEF explored their role in a workshop at the ENVForum Conference, entitled Educating Audiences in Creating Demand for Sustainable Consumption & Production: The Role and Responsibility of the Media, Entertainment & Creative Industries. The Workshop was hosted by the Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia, the Asia-Pacific Media Alliance for Social Awareness and Deutsche Welle.
Participants examined the responsibility of the media, entertainment and creative industries in Asian and European countries in creating demand for sustainable consumption and production.
Dr Somrudee Nicro, Senior Director of the Thailand Environment Institute, emphasised the media’s responsibility to support citizens’ rights through their reporting. Citing the environmental scandal surrounding the Map Ta Phut industrial development in Thailand, Dr Nicro stressed that citizens should be able to influence decisions on natural resources that sustain their communities.
Nevertheless, Dr. Nicro acknowledged that the media face many obstacles in contributing toward improving public participation in environmental decision-making. She underlined the importance of support from networks, such as The Access Initiative , which arose from the first Earth Summit in 1992.
Mr Harald Hasselmann, Managing Director of global marketing research company Synovate, presented the result of his company’s survey on Consumer Attitudes and Awareness on Climate Change.
The survey, which was conducted with 13,444 respondents across 18 countries, examined the impact of media reporting. An overwhelming majority, 72% of the respondents, believed the role of the media was “to educate and inform the public”. The survey also highlighted the increasing need for strategic partnerships to improve public awareness towards behavioural change, positive action for more sustainable patterns of production and consumption.
One successful partnership is that between Microsoft and the European Environment Agency. Mr Ray Pinto, Senior Government Affairs Manager of Microsoft, described how the partnership developed online information technology software that enabled end-users to make decisions regarding how their behaviour and choices impact the environment, based on real-time information.
Workshop participants also pointed out that media players should engage with other key stakeholders on environment and sustainable development issues. Platforms such as the ENVForum as well as Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum on Climate Change and the Media continue to be important for providing opportunities for such exchanges.
The ENVforum is a flagship project of the ASEF in partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES-Japan), SENSA and UNEP. ASEF has been actively involved in promoting dialogue on environmental issues between Asia and Europe since 2003.