BOGOR, Indonesia (18 May, 2011)_An analysis of media attention surrounding efforts to mitigate climate change is providing valuable clues about what is driving the climate change agenda in forest-rich countries.
The analysis, conducted by The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) focuses on the REDD+ programme: a global initiative that compensates developing countries for conserving their forests. The idea is to enable forest stewardship to compete financially with forces that work against it, such as agricultural conversion, timber extraction and infrastructure development.
CIFOR is supporting efforts by developing countries to deliver effective REDD+ programmes. One contribution is a global comparative study of REDD+ across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The study is particularly concerned with identifying the actors who are driving public policy on REDD+.
So far, the analysis of climate change policy has tended to focus on global processes, with little attention given to national debates. By examining the way national processes are portrayed in the media, we can begin to identify some of the main challenges in the national policy arena.
CIFOR scientists examined major media reporting on REDD+ since 2005, adding depth and perspective through interviews with journalists. The analysis, which has already taken place in Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Vietnam and Indonesia, provides a snapshot of the policy debates that are concerned with REDD+ in those countries.
Coverage varied considerably from country to country. In Cameroon, only 14 articles were published on REDD+ during the 5-year period under study, over half were written around or during the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
The conclusion is that the debate on REDD+ in Cameroon is taking place between the global mechanisms driving its implementation and a very small national elite. By contrast, media coverage of REDD+ in Indonesia—190 stories over 5 years—indicates that the issue has captured greater, although not significant, public attention. The Indonesian study found that while the engagement of all levels of society has helped move forward the debate on REDD+, it has raised financial expectations and created conflict over resource control.
REDD+ became a more important topic for Brazilian newspapers in 2009 when Norway committed up to US$ 1 billion for REDD+ implementation in Brazil. Still, given the Brazil’s status as the country with the largest rainforest cover, reporting on REDD+ is fairly limited: 245 articles mentioned the initiative over the five-year period, usually as a minor theme.
In Bolivia (The Bolivia media analysis will be published in mid 2011), which hosts substantial areas of tropical rainforest, senior government officials and civil society largely reject carbon markets and REDD+ in favour of an adaptation agenda. The lack of interest in REDD+ generally resulted in a lack of coverage—only 18 articles were published from 2006-2010—and a pessimistic assessment of the future of REDD+ in the articles that did appear.
Vietnam is recognized by the UNFCCC as one of the five countries expected to be most affected by climate change. “Vietnam is one of the few countries” the analysis states “on the right side of the forest transition curve”. Meaning it owns the rare trend of increasing forest cover. Nevertheless, REDD+ is new in the country and only 18 articles on REDD+ were published during the study period. Contrary to Bolivia, the analysis found an optimistic assessment of REDD+ and strong beliefs on the part of the government.
‘It will be interesting to see if coverage increases as more REDD+ start-up projects get going, and how the issues discussed and the national approaches to mitigating climate change will be framed, and reframed,” said Monica Di Gregorio, a fellow at the London School of Economics and one of the architects of the project. Additional media assessments will take place in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru in 2011.
James Maiden also contributed to this article.
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