Africa’s population currently stands at 1.13Billion people according to The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It is projected to rise by another billion by the year 2100. With such a big population, environmental stress is expected and so are environmental issues. The United Nations puts illiteracy level in Africa to be 38 percent. With such a large portion of the continent’s population unable to read and write, it is necessary that information passed to the general Population is able to be understood by both types of people, the illiterate and the literate. There still exists a challenge in reaching these people; poverty levels are still high in Africa. Many poor people in the rural parts of Africa have access to radio as it is the main means through which they receive information. Broadcast media holds the key to educating people at the grassroots level on Natural Resource Management since the poor are most vulnerable to environmental disasters yet
they’re the most exploitative on these natural resources.

However, broadcast media over the recent years has been paying little attention to environmental issues. Politics has sadly taken the center stage while health, celebrity gossip, economic among others coming in a bit. Environmental stories have somewhat been ignored and kept aside and therefore receive minimum = coverage. It is evident that many journalists lack the knowledge that will enable them report on such stories to the public with optimal zeal and the technical knowhow surrounding the environment. With COP 21 a few weeks away, it is inevitable that the media will be the major people echoing these negotiations. Although, the media is always present at these environmental negotiations as communicators, but there lacks communication of the main purpose
of these global meetings.

Mr. Gerry Opondo from the Environmental Compliance Institute says, ‘the media mainly focuses on the side events which go on outside the negotiation rooms such as demonstrations by civil society and miss the important thing which are the talks happening in the conference halls.’ The issue of whether environmental stories are given least priority comes into question but there also exists the lack of passion and commitment to report such stories. Many journalists are after ‘hot’ news and leave environmental coverage for those who are passionate about it. Environmental issues seem not to soaring debates after coverage because many people are not aware of the issues they cut across as well as the interlinkages between various sectors of their countries’ economies. Broadcast media hence lacks the environmental communication and interpretation strategies when covering environmental stories. Environmental communication is all about relayingenvironmental facts and concepts to your audience in a simplified manner and in which they can understand. Broadcast media, because it is the largest accessible form of media in the continent, needs more empowerment to heighten their capability and capacity in environmental reporting.

The Environmental Compliance Institute (ECI), a Non-Governmental Organization based in Nairobi partnered with the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) and held a capacity building workshop for African on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) on 15-16th October at The Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi. It was hosted under the auspice of The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The workshop aimed at raising journalists’ awareness on environmental issues and threats facing the African continent, the existing and emerging mechanisms under the global and regional MEAs and þe implementation mechanisms for these MEAs, imparting effective reporting strategies on Africa’s priority environmental issues and document best practices for reporting of MEAs as well as their implementation mechanisms.

Mr. Ben Opaa from The National Land Commission, NLC, making a presentation on the Capacity Building Workshop for African Journalists on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) that took place at Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi 15-16 October 2015. The workshop targeted journalists because they are the biggest influencers of policy making and implementation processes and procedures in addition to educating the public and creation of awareness. Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), are among the most highly recognized aspects of environmental governance. They take various forms such as ‘treaties,’ The number and confines of MEAs have been on the rise since environmental issues began taking toll of society in the 1960s.Their uniqueness from other international agreements lies on their role of focus on specifically environmental matters, they’re inclusive of multiple parties/countries and they are created through binding international law. Many African countries are parties to these laws but very few understand what they are and how their ratification influences their countries legal frameworks. This forum sought to bring journalists from various parts of the continent and it was concluded there should be stronger connections between the relevant authorities and journalists for easier and faster access to information for the purpose of environmental reporting and that the authorities need to be more flexible on the protocols that are observed when the media seeks for information from them. There needs to be more further comprehensive trainings for journalists on environmental law and policy issues affecting Africa therefore Environmental Education is necessary and through such trainings and workshops the African people will be more informed on the environmental aspects of society and also be empowered in contributing positively to environmental policy making process that will result to economic development-environmental sustainability balance.