Statement to COP17 by AMARC

AMARC COP17

We, as community broadcasters, are acutely aware that dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, resource depletion and extinction of species. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance and violence are to be found everywhere, and cause great suffering to people and to the natural environment. In treating information as a commodity and not as a right of peoples, the mainstream media pay more attention to short term gain and the interests of the powerful. Thus, the environmental agenda has been reduced to the fatalities and catastrophes when in reality the environmental crisis is also the moral crisis of an economic system and of our political and social institutions.

We believe it is necessary to reaffirm the social responsibility of the media to act in the public interest and to defend the most vulnerable and we encourage community media to promote environmentally sustainable development.

We commit ourselves to:

• Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental issues, and on development plans that may affect us, or in which we have an interest.

• Adopt the climate change agenda so that communities we work with in different parts of the world have quality information that enables them to take more effective action and to demand to those in power to adopt policies in order to mitigate the causes of climate change.

• Strengthen the standards of environmental reporting and build the capacity of environmental communicators at local and community level.

• Support civil society at local, regional and global levels, and promote the participation of all individuals and organizations in decision making that affects their lives and livelihoods.

• Protect and exercise the right to freedom of opinion, expression, association and dissent to rethink new, more just, more equitable and more sustainable models of development.

• Strengthen local communities’ capacity to take care of our environment.

• Adopt best practices in our own activities with respect to environmental management and promote a carbon neutral community media sector.

We note:

• a perceived lack of action by first world countries to act constructively and concisely on implementing the decisions made during the conferences on climate change.

• An increase in natural disasters as a result of a lack of action.

• An increase of the vulnerability of island countries.

• A lack of commitment of the international aid to victims of natural disasters and climate change.

• A lack of resources to fund the role of community media in public education; disaster management and emergency information to support to communities that are victims of natural disasters and climate change.

We call on governments as well as international and multilateral organizations:

• to promote the existence and development of community media that serve those populations most excluded from development and those most affected by the consequences of climate change;

• to establish mechanisms and adequate economic investment for local community media to realize their full potential in order to build informed societies that are conscious of the need to implement local actions to mitigate the global phenomenon of climate change.

Likewise we call on the nations of the world to rethink the current development model which is the leading cause of climate change, and to establish new economic, political, social and ethical systems that improve the distribution of wealth and assure a more rational and sustainable use of natural resources and protect indigenous people, local and rural communities.

World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)

Durban, South Africa, December 8, 2011