Media key in developing National Environmental report

By Fostina Mkandawire

Media has been described as a key partner in the development of Malawi National State of the Environment Outlook Report (NSEOR), which will highlight drivers and pressures of environmental change and provide context for future national plans.

Acting Director General of Malawi Environment Protection Authority, Tawonga Mbale made the remarks Friday during a media orientation aimed at informing journalists on the steps and activities put in place for the successful development of the NSEOR.

She said there has been preparatory activities towards the commencement of developing the NSEOR, therefore reporters have to be part of every step so that they could be developing well-articulated stories to raise awareness to the public.

Tawonga Mbale

“We noted a gap on environmental reporting, hence there’s need for journalists to be well capacitated with enough information for their work. We will further work hand in hand with journalists through Association of Environmental Journalists, to broaden their understanding on environmental reporting,” Mbale said.

She expressed her appreciation to United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) for financially supporting the development of the NSEOR which has taken government over thirteen years to update, due to financial constraints.

Mbale said due to changing and emerging environmental issues, the country needs to develop the report that will assist in developing new policies for environmental protection.

“Environmental changes continue affecting every aspect of the economy as there is an increase on the frequency and intensity of disasters, an increase in biodiversity loss. We need to document and see how we will respond to these environmental emerging issues,” she said.

Head of Disasters and Conflicts Branch at UNEP’s Ecosystem Division, Cecilia Aipira said that the country’s social economic development was directly dependent on the environment, hence it was imperative to develop a report that would provide policy response.

She revealed that the report would be launched in September, 2025, adding that it was not just a document that could be finalized within a shortest period of time, therefore having everyone on board would facilitate and provide room for soliciting diverse views.

“We are calling for National Experts by June, 2024, as one way of enriching the type of people that we will have, therefore these people should be nominated by the public to join already identified experts who are on board,” Aipira explained.

Board Member for the Association of Environmental Journalists, Moses Phiri highlighted how important engaging members of the media was when developing important documents such as the NSEOR.

“We are dedicated to collaborating closely with MEPA, UNEP, the Co-Chairs, and the authors. We believe there is much we can contribute, both during the development process and the implementation phase,” he added.