Specialised training from RMIT is supporting the communications efforts of a South Pacific delegation attending the COP21 climate change negotiations in Paris.
The Pacific islands are some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, highlighted by a recent series of severe climate-related disasters.
Eight students and two staff members from the University of the South Pacific (USP) are supporting the Pacific delegations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, dubbed COP21.
To prepare the students for their supporting roles in Paris, the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, in collaboration with RMIT and the University of Barcelona (UAB), held a training session for climate change leadership, capacity building, and media and communication.
The four-day session allowed participants to better understand the negotiation process, discuss the Pacific position at COP21, strengthen their journalism and communication skills, network and become better ambassadors.
Professor Elisabeth Holland from USP and Dr Judy Burnside-Lawry from RMIT led the project as Co-Chief Investigators.
Burnside-Lawry, who is program manager of the RMIT Master of Communication, said the training was a result of an EU-funded PACE-Net Plus grant for RMIT’s School of Media and Communication, in partnership with USP and UAB.
“We’re proud to have provided South Pacific’s emerging climate change leaders with skills to better communicate the science of climate change with national and international audiences at COP21,” she said.
“The grant supported us in designing a communication and leadership program for future climate change leaders in the South Pacific.
“As part of this grant, we have trained students and NGO's travelling to Paris with the Pacific delegation.”
The training also included representatives from NGOs/CSOs: Pasifika Indigenous Network, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, 350 Pacific, Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific, USP Journalism School, local and regional media and some Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific agencies.
The USP team will support Pacific leaders at the conference to ensure delegations negotiate a better future for the Pacific islands and will be in Paris for the duration of the event, which concludes on 11 December.
Story: Wendy Little