At the opening of the ‘Environmental Reporting’ programme organized by the International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, in Berlin, participants find out that environmental problems may not be peculiar to Africa and Asia alone.
What was easily observable about the 15 participants from Africa and Asia, present at the seminar room of the International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, Berlin, was that most of them were nervous. That certainly should have been expected particularly because most of them were either visiting Berlin Germany for the first time, or that they were wondering why there should be a focus on Africa and Asia’s environment problems right in the heart of the city of innovation, Berlin.
They did not have to wait long, nevertheless. Astrid Kohl, head of the IJJ, on July 4, in an opening remark said that whether in Bangladesh or China or even in Berlin or Nigeria, issues that confront the environment have an international face. According to Kohl, it was important for stakeholders and journalists to come together to discuss these problems. ‘What you may find out from these capacity building discussions is that solutions applied to environmental problems in far away Bangladesh or China may just be what is needed in either Berlin or Tanzania’, she said. Kohl said that in bringing journalists from Tanzania, Bangladesh, China, Jordan, Nigeria, Ghana, and Indonesia, the IIJ wanted to challenge the notion that development programmes cannot engender democratic change in most African and Asian countries. ‘Already equipped with the tools of journalism, and imbued with a passion for the well-being of their environment, the IIJ believes that participants will climb the levels of their careers to influence editorial policies of their mediums in favour of the environment’, she said.
Roberto Herrscher, who is billed to deal with the main issues concerning the environment in developing countries, is an Argentine professor of journalist and member of the first IIJ environmental course in 1990. Distinguished lecturers billed to deal with issues raised by Herrscher include Martin Meister, Peter Plappert, Pierre Portas, Ludwig Pulschen, Henner Weithoner and Ramesh Jaura, editor-in-chief of Global Perspectives, a monthly magazine for international cooperation.
According to a programme released to participants a fortnight ago, visits to the Portsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Freiburg Fair and Phoenix, Germany’s biggest solar and sonar cell producers are part of the initiative underscore the crucial role the journalist played in deciding the future of the environment. Ali Tawfique, a journalist from Bangladesh told TELL reporter that he hoped that learn how to ‘efficiently deal with environment challenges in development’, pretty much expressing the resolve of the Asian and African participants at the 2-month seminar in Berlin. Marco Hamacher, formerly of the press office of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, CDUG, together with Annette Ehrminger , project manager of the IIJ of InWent, coordinated the relaxed atmosphere that prevailed at the Haveli Indian Restaurant, ensconced within the sequestered precincts of Berlin.
The IIJ of InWent was founded in 1962 as a not-for-profit organization to give young up-and-coming journalists from developing countries the opportunity to enhance their knowledge in the media industry. Even though the IIJ is an integral part of the German government’s ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Kohl said that its work with the government is mostly to facilitate the millennium development goals, MDG, of the United Nations, UN. According to her, lectures are independently designed apart from InWent. Currently, the IIJ offers up to 40 training courses and dialogue programmes every year in Germany and many West African countries.