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Senior Filipino journalist for innovation in news dissemination on climate change

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ISTANBUL, TURKIYE - Lilybet G. Ison, Philippines News Agency's climate news director speaks during an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Environment Forum in Istanbul, Turkiye on October 20, 2022. (Elif Öztürk Özgöncü-AA)
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Oct 21, 2022 - 03:38 AM

ISTANBUL (AA) – Backing the practice of “smart agriculture” in a country like the Philippines, a senior journalist from the Southeast Asian nation on Thursday vouched for innovation in news dissemination on the issue of environment and climate change.

“We should upgrade our knowledge, especially on social media,” said Lilybet G. Ison, director of Climate News of the Philippines News Agency (PNA).

Ison told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the Environment Forum in Istanbul, which was hosted by Türkiye’s global news wire agency, that governments and media organizations should “reach out to the youth in protecting our environment because they are the ones who will benefit from it.”

“In producing news,” she said, “we should tell the youth how to be environment protectors … do not litter, do not use plastics.”

On possible collaboration and cooperation with the Turkish news agency on “reshaping narrative” on climate, the PNA editor said: “Yes, especially with the Anadolu Agency, we (already) have an agreement on the exchange of news.”

“So, through that, we can reach out to more people; we can report the devastation of how climate change affects our country, but more so on how to mitigate it or how to protect it or how to prevent it.”

“It’s more on prevention. I think that’s more important than reporting the devastation,” she asserted.

Ison said the PNA has increased its use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

“We also have hourly news now; earlier, we didn’t have the video, hourly news,” she said, adding that the PNA is now releasing regular-hourly bulletins.

​​​​​​’Rice a political issue’

Noting that the Southeast Asian nation is an agricultural country, the senior editor said: “Geographically, we (Philippines) are the third-worst country in terms of climate change affected area.”

“It affects our food sustainability,” she said, recalling how recent climate change impacts had resulted in a sugar shortage.

“It’s a very important issue and it has affected our businesses, such as the soft drinks and other confectionaries and our staple food, which is to rice or grain,” Ison added.

Rice, according to the journalist, is a “political issue” in the Philippines.

If there is a rice shortage, “they will blame the government,” she said, adding: “So, rice is a very important issue after the climate change.”

On how to mitigate the climate change impact, Ison said it is connected to food sustainability.

“(The Philippines) Department of Agriculture has implemented a smart agriculture project, such as the development of crop variety, which is resilient to climate change,” she said, referring to a rice variety produced as part of such a project by the Rice Research Institute.

It is flood-resistant, but it has reduced productivity, she added.

The director said the Philippines researchers are working on a project to “increase” production of the new rice variety.

Filipino people have begun to practice “urban agriculture” due to the shortage of spaces, planting vegetables along the pathways, she added.

Environment Forum

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the opening of the forum via video message.

Anadolu Agency’s Deputy Director General and Editor-in-Chief Yusuf Ozhan moderated the session, Media Responsibility on Climate Change.

Besides Ison, the panel was also attended by General Director of Italy-based ANSA Stefano De Alessandri, Director-General of Somali National News Agency Ismail Mukhtar Omar, and CEO of Zimbabwe-based agency New Ziana Rangarirai Shoko.

Representatives of many local and foreign NGOs and international organizations, politicians, academics, and journalists participated in the event, which featured sessions on Clean Energy for Sustainable Development, The Media’s Approach to Natural Disasters, and Climate Crisis and Responsibility Sharing, as well as issues such as climate change, energy, the media’s view of climate change and environmental education.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay also spoke at the event.

The day-long event aimed to address issues such as the need to develop a new media language on environmental and climate issues, international news agencies raising global awareness, the duties of traditional and new media outlets, and the pursuit of environmental awareness in new news areas.

“We aim to redefine the relationship between media and environment by creating a medium for environmental experts to voice their opinions and discuss solutions,” according to the forum’s website.

Among the forum’s international participants were Portugal’s former Minister of Europe Bruno Macaes, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Ovais Sarmad, global climate and environment news editor at Associated Press (AP) Peter Prengaman, and climate director of Spain’s EFE Agency Arturo Larena.​​​​​​​

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