World Press Freedom Day 2024: Honouring environmental journalists

World Press Freedom Day 2024: Honouring environmental journalists

World Press Freedom Day 2024 honours the courage, passion, dedication, and perseverance of journalists who report from the frontlines of natural disasters and bring to light environmental degradation.

World Press Freedom Day, celebrated every year on May 3, stresses the importance of upholding and respecting fundamental principles of freedom of expression for journalists. It acknowledges the role of media professionals who contribute to the promotion of transparency, accountability, and most importantly, the flow of information to the masses around the world by reporting on a range of issues directly or indirectly impacting lives.

The theme the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated for this year’s Press Freedom Day is “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis”, which underscores the significance of journalism in the wake of environmental upheavals unfolding across the globe, affecting an alarmingly large number of individuals based in diverse regions.

The theme serves as a stark reminder of how the current environmental challenges are causing a massive loss of lives and other forms of critical damages, and why these stories, albeit disturbing and upsetting, need to be told.

report released by UNESCO documents 750 attacks on journalists and media organisations covering environmental issues over the last 15 years in 89 countries. “Legal processes are also misused to censor, silence, detain and harass environmental reporters, while a new era of climate disinformation focuses on undermining proven solutions, including renewable energy,” said Guterres. Expressing shock at the high number of journalists killed in Israel’s military operations in Gaza, Guterres said the UN recognises the invaluable work of journalists and that mis-and-disinformation cannot be fought without facts.

This Press Freedom Day celebrates and acknowledges the work of journalists who have, and are helping to bring climate issues to the global dialogue focused on the preservation and protection of our planet against adverse climate change, loss of biodiversity, and air pollution. It is undeniable that the impacts of climate change are intertwined and demonstrate far-reaching consequences for societies, economies, and ecosystems globally.

The theme also highlights the importance of countering mis-and-disinformation around climate issues, which has been consistently undermining the sensitive nature of these issues. Coordinated campaigns targeting climate change can potentially undermine its impacts on vulnerable lives, the urgency to address it, and collective efforts to counter environmental challenges, which disproportionately affect women and children.

Over the past year, Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) launched a series of initiatives to highlight the importance of exposure around current environmental challenges. From podcasts to a stakeholder conference, MMfD expanded its advocacy portfolio by bringing into spotlight challenges to environmental and climate justice in Pakistan and beyond.

Here’s a look at MMfD’s initiatives focused on environmental challenges.

Environment Now! An Interdisciplinary Environmental Justice Conference

Unfolding Environmental Crisis: Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change on Pakistan

Pakistan’s Environment Crisis: Journalists Emphasise Consistent Coverage of Environmental Issues

Pakistan’s Environment Crisis 3: Hazards of Pakistan’s Fast Fashion Industry