Indigenous people and local communities have received few benefits from the commercial use of the wealth of traditional crops and medicinal knowledge they have developed.
Stories matter. The first session of the Climate Communications Day for journalists and media specialists at the UN Climate talks in Durban focused on the importance of telling stories to get the right messages out. A good story has accurate information, but – crucially – it also has a personal angle. The trick, to quote Randy Olson, is getting fact and emotion together to tell an engaging story. How the story gets told depends on what needs to be communicated, who we are talking to, and what medium we are using.
When a large disaster hits – like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – it receives international media coverage, aid is mobilised and aid agencies rush to respond. While survivors of smaller disasters might wish for such attention, there are some serious negative side-effects to these responses. Survivors are often sidelined with little influence on the responses chosen and with little control over how the external funding is used or prioritised, as these decisions rest mostly with external funders. But responses that don’t consult with them risk not only failing, but potentially weakening the communities they’re working with. It doesn’t have to be this way.