The Conference kicked off Friday at the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC).
The Annual Conference running under the theme African Media and the Global Sustainability Challenge seeks to encourage journalists to cover issues of Climate Change, Food security and global sustainability particularly looking at African Journalism.
Scientists at the conference said the African Media continue shunning covering climate change debates hence failure by Africans to access information or discussing issues of the impact of Climate Change.
Scientist Dr Richard Munag of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) told delegates at the Conference that it was sad that most African countries have National Action Plans (NAC) but most were not implementing the action plans.
“It is high time that African countries start to implement their National Action Plans and they should be put in the National Development Agenda. As UNEP we have therefore become interested in improving the ability of countries in removing barriers for integrating adaption into the national development Agenda,” Munag said.
Another Scientist, Keith Alverson said it would be better for African countries to start addressing issues on global sustainability and climatic Change as doing it later would have devastating consequences. “According to African Statistics, 30million hectares of forest are lost per year and it is high time that countries address issues of the environment.”
In his welcome address at the conference, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane said the conference theme presented an opportunity to the continent to be educated about the effects of climate change and the mitigation factors that can be undertaken to save the environment.
Professor Herman Wasserman Deputy Head of the school of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University said this year’s conference theme is highly relevant as South Africa on behalf of Africa holds the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCC) Cop 17 Climate meeting in November in South Africa’s Durban City.
“The African Media have a key role to play in putting and keeping sustainable development and climate change news on the Agenda. On the continent that that is least responsible, most affected, least informed, the media’s role in contributing to public understanding of climate change is crucial,” he said.
UNFCC Cop 17 will bring together representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.
For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. This Highway Conference is also running along with the Pan African Conference on Access to Information which seeks to establish an African platform for Africans to share and access information.