United Nations urges Asian media leaders to help promote climate-friendly, inclusive growth

The United Nations today called on Asian media leaders to engage proactively on climate change issues to persuade governments, business and the public to accept choices needed to transform current unsustainable growth patterns into environment-friendly and socially inclusive development in the region.

The appeal was made by the senior-most United Nations Asia-Pacific official in her keynote address to a forum of Asian media industry leaders and multilateral institutions held here concurrently with the United Nations Climate Change Conference under way in Durban, South Africa.

“While climate change presents great challenges to economic and social development in the Asia-Pacific region, it also presents vast new opportunities,” Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) told the Media Leaders’ Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility and Climate Change: “Media and Multi-Sector Partnerships in Achieving Positive Social Change.”

“The engagement of national media players, executive editors and senior correspondents in affecting mass, sustainable consumption of energy, water and food is crucial for environmentally sustainable economic development,” Dr. Heyzer said in her statement delivered by Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP Shun-ichi Murata.

“With this in mind, we ask that media leaders devote more production and editorial resources to the coverage of climate change and sustainable development,” the ESCAP chief noted in her statement to the forum that discussed the role and responsibility of news organizations in promoting social action and behaviour change on critical climate change issues facing the region.
Organized by the Media Alliance and Reed Exhibitions, in association with CASBAA and ContentAsia magazine, the event brought together more than 40 Asian media industry leaders and multilateral institutions.

While impressive Asia-Pacific economic growth in recent decades has reduced poverty, this has come at the cost of environmental sustainability and the United Nations is striving to convert this trade-off into a win-win synergy, ESCAP told the Asian media leaders.

ESCAP is working to help the region switch from the current ‘Brown Growth’ development pattern which is energy, resource and carbon intensive to ‘Green Growth’ aiming to improve the efficiency of the way we use our energy, resources, and in particular carbon.

According to ESCAP, green growth is a unique opportunity for developing countries: it offers a great potential for emerging and developing economies to leapfrog towards inclusive and sustainable growth without repeating the development path, which was in the past followed by now developed countries.

However, this will need a “fundamental transformation of the way economy and society operate”, including redesigning and restructuring the ‘visible structure’ of the economy such as transport or energy systems, urban design or built environment, on the concept of ecological efficiency and low carbon.

“Governments have to initiate and lead the processes shifting towards green growth. Private sector needs to grasp environmental sustainability as a business opportunity. The public needs to accept the structural transformation and change their lifestyle as well as provide political support to the governmental leadership.”

In closing, media have “a critical role in promoting behavioral change around the adoption of green growth initiatives and use of green technologies,” ESCAP told the media industry heads.