(PRESS RELEASE) – The Media Association of Saint Lucia is concerned that the Government of Saint Lucia has this year declined to extend its customary invitation to the media fraternity to join the Saint Lucia Delegation at the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.
In years past, journalists specially trained in climate change reporting such as Stan Bishop of the Voice St. Lucia, and Alison Kentish of HTS News4orce have accompanied the delegation, providing a critical look at Saint Lucia’s activities during this important multilateral conference.
This year, the only coverage of the important policy meetings and lobbying efforts undertaken on our behalf will be provided by content producers employed in the Office of the Prime Minister.
MASL also notes with concern that this year’s delegation seems to lack Information & Communications officers (from the Sustainable Development and Energy units, for example) that would normally provide readouts, reports and other feedback from the technical meetings at COP.
Because climate change is an issue of immediate and serious public concern, the seriousness of excluding these key individuals from this year’s delegation cannot be understated. The Saint Lucian public deserves to have access to reliable, accurate information about the efforts our delegation is undertaking on the behalf of the nation and the region.
By forcing the nation to rely on the narrative crafted by the official government communication machinery, this administration is curtailing the rights of all Saint Lucians to be informed on matters of national importance by a free press.
We refer to remarks made on Thursday, 18th October by a senior member of the Government Information Service asking that the media be more committed to educating the public on environmental matters: “Climate change is an issue of absolute importance to the region. Needless to say that Saint Lucia has been spared the brunt of three disastrous hurricanes so far. As media practitioners, we are a very important means of communicating environmental concerns to the general public. We should be concerned with the environment a lot more. [There should be] more public announcements and even discussion programs on NTN, GIS and in the private media.”
Needless to say, the remarks were made at a meeting convened with media stakeholders to discuss ways in which the private media and the GIS could effectively highlight the event, and give more prominence to issues relating to climate change and global warming.
With these statements in mind, the Media Association of Saint Lucia remains perplexed as to why an invitation was not extended to any member of the private media to form part of Saint Lucia’s delegation to Bonn.
In light of the developments, MASL will be left with no choice but to explore our options as it relates to coverage of state-backed climate change and sustainable development initiatives.
The Media Association of Saint Lucia looks forward to a continued and improved dialogue with the Government of Saint Lucia on how to ensure that the ability of its members to operate a free, independent fourth estate is not compromised or further eroded.