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COP29 is 11 months away, enough time to get our reporting right

climate

As we look ahead to COP29 later this year in Baku, Azerbaijan, there is an opportunity for the African media to play a pivotal role in ensuring these climate negotiations lead to tangible outcomes for the continent.

The past two years since COP27 in Egypt have seen growing calls within the continent for climate justice and equity to take centre stage in the negotiations. And while loss and damage may have finally made it onto the COP agenda, Africa’s needs and priorities are yet to be adequately addressed. Real progress remains lacking.

As agenda-setters, African media must step up to fill this leadership void. Through in-depth, solutions-focused reporting, the media can shape decisive African leadership and a unified strategy ahead of COP29.

Importantly, reporting must move beyond documenting the human impacts of climate change to investigating just transition pathways for economies, energy systems, and societies. What would an Africa-centric just transition entail? Which African voices and perspectives need amplifying in the global climate discourse? Media houses across the continent must make space for these complex, multifaceted stories.

There is also an urgent need to question prevailing narratives from the Global North that blame African population growth for worsening climate change impacts. Reproductive rights and justice have no place as bargaining chips in climate negotiations. Africa is the most energy-starved region in the world. Our growing populations need clean, renewable power – not dangerous fossil fuel projects that commodify and extract resources for exports.

By exposing the greenwashing of mega fossil fuel deals across Africa and presenting viable local alternatives centred on people and the planet, the media can embolden civil society movements and citizen action on climate issues. Public awareness and pressure will push African leadership to adopt rights-based positions and eschew corporate capture ahead of COP29.

Finally, through critical lenses that unpack systemic root causes, African media must hold historical polluters of the Global North accountable for their ecological debt and complicity in climate colonialism. Loss and damage can no longer be tokenised with endless delays in finance and vague implementation plans. Climate reparations must address Africa’s needs – her people will accept nothing less.

The world is watching Africa, seeing vulnerability where incredible resilience lies. If empowered with truth and justice, Africa’s voices can author a new story where climate solutions rebalance centuries of extraction and harm. Will Africa’s media rise to meet this historic calling of their time? The hour of reckoning draws near. In 10 months we’ll be gearing up for another COP. It’s not a very long time, but enough to get it right this time.

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