UN, Group train journalists on SDGs
As part of efforts aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030 in Nigeria, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos and Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN) recently trained journalists in Borno and Kano States as well as Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
While declaring the workshop open in Maiduguri, Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, said President Buhari is commitment to the successful implementation of the SDGs in the country, adding that the goals couldn’t be achieved without full participation of the media.
She said: The support of media is pertinent because as journalists, your background and training equip you with the capacity to engage actively with the public and private sectors towards the achievement of the SDGs in Nigeria.
“Your role includes sensitisation, education, advocacy, amplification and collaboration. All hands must be on deck to build a better nation and a world where ‘no one is left behind.”
Director, UNIC, Ronald Kayanja, who spoke on “Unveiling Sustainability,” advised journalists to neutralise fake news and misinformation around sustainability issues by reporting facts, good practices and solutions within Nigeria and from around the world; integrate sustainability in news reporting features, documentaries, talk shows and other formats.
He added that journalists must also enable the public to make sense of global change and how it is affecting them, demand accountability from governments at all levels on progress with implementation and commitment to sustainability, monitor the progress that the country and private sectors are making towards achieving the SDG and mobilise for action on sustainability issues.
He also said media houses must develop beats for sustainable development reporting, stressing that journalism educators must support capacity building on sustainable development. He added that journalists must be exposed to global conferences and events for regular updating on sustainable development.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, also called for a stronger partnership with the media in the implementation of the SDGs.
He said: “Media play a critical role in achieving Agenda 2030, which includes ensuring citizens are well-informed to enable them to form opinions based on facts. Factual and evidence-based reporting is critical in this period of fake news.”
Chairman of MAIN and Professor of Mass Communication, Lagos State University (LASU), Lai Oso, who spoke on, “Introducing Sustainability Journalism,” observed that sustainable development is a transformative initiative that meets the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
To him, the main focus of sustainability journalism should be reporting SDGs based on knowledge and understanding; explore linkages, relationships and connections within the context of environmental sustainability. It also focuses on how to foster dialogue towards finding solutions to problems, comprehensive reporting, promoting multiple perspectives, focusing on context and process, not just events and occurrence, offering explanation and interpretation and giving less emphasis on the negative and the sensational.
He disclosed that the essence of the workshop is to capacitate journalists with knowledge of sustainable development; to engender high-quality journalistic practice that holds the government accountable to Agenda 2030, to acquaint journalists with SDGs targets and indicators and how to monitor specific indicators of SDGs and generate compelling stories and reports that would galvanise local and people’s action for sustainable development in Nigeria.
Others, he said are to strengthen the capacity of participants in sustainability reporting with emphasis on economic, social and environmental dimensions; to deepen participants’ knowledge of the role of women in sustainable development and to establish a “Sustainability Journalists’ Network” that will engage regularly to report and view development initiatives in Nigeria from the prism of sustainability.
National Information Officer, UNIC, Seyi Soremekun, while speaking in Abuja, urged journalists to ensure their news reports and features have depth in sustainability.
He said journalists should rise above mere reporting of events.
Soremekun said they needed to invest time and energy in diving deeper into sustainability issues around events.
Senior Technical Adviser in the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Dr. Bala Yunusa, noted that the SDGs could not be achieved with stand-alone programmes and projects. He said they must be carefully integrated into national and sub-national policies and development plans.
Yunusa, who spoke on, ”implementing Agenda 2030 & the SDGs in Nigeria: Progress & Challenges,” harped on the need for robust Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER). He added that to effectively implement the SDGs in the country, expertise and resources of all are required.
He listed such expertise and stakeholders as public and private sectors; UN Development System; donor community; academia and the wider Civil Society.
Yunusa disclosed that the Nigerian government has demonstrated a strong commitment to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the SDGs.
He said institutional frameworks have been established at the national and sub-national levels to support the effective implementation of the SDGs.
He, however, identified challenges mitigating against actualisation of the SDGs as, dwindling financial resources; the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent insecurity across the country.
Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu of the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano, spoke on ‘’Gender Inequality and the Sustainable Development Goal.”
She said the importance of sustainability, inclusivity and social justice in attaining sustainable development can never be exaggerated, hence, the need for conscious gender mainstreaming in all aspects.
To her, since the media has the power of setting the public agenda and sustainable development is the yearning of all humans, effort should be doubled in bringing to fore SDGs issues, while gender considerations should never be undermined.
Aliyu observed that the media has been identified as a strategic resource in the push for gender equality the world over.
She stressed the need for practitioners to have good knowledge of the SDGs and understand the need for gender inclusivity.
The lady also suggested that journalists must pitch stories that cater for both gender from a multifaceted perspective; highlight salient issues with regard to gender and make them public agenda; discourage harmful gender discriminatory practices through media reports and programmes.
Special Adviser on SDGs to the FCT Minister of State, Hajiya Hiba Ahmed, who was represented by Mr. Ona Joseph Ndubui, commended UNIC and MAIN for organising the training.
In Kano, UNIC also decorated 52 journalists as champions of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nigeria’s network of sustainable development journalists (NNSDJ) was also established in Kano. NNSDJ was first established in Maiduguri.
Performing the ‘pin-up’ ceremony was the Vice-Chancellor of Federal University Kashere, Gombe State, Prof. Umaru Pate; Prof Oso and Dr. Aliyu of Bayero University, Kano.
Soremekun said by accepting the ‘SDGs Wheel pins,’ “you commit to promoting the SDGs and the concept of Sustainability Journalism.