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UNDRR partners with Worldwide Broadcasting unions

UNDRR partners with Worldwide Broadcasting unions

Panel discussion: Global Platform Geneva

Monday 13 May 2019

(from 2 PM to 4.45 PM)

Session 1 (only)

Noel Curran talking points

Main points:

  • Many thanks to UNDRR and to Ms. Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and his team, for creating this opportunity of dialogue toda. Many thans also to the other institutions such as ITU (our partner since 70 years) and WMO. And many thanks to the WBU members here present or represented, first of all the DG of the African Union of Broadcasting, Grégoire Ndjaka and to the large ABU delegation with NHK, and of course to our friend and partners of the printed media association and of the community radio association

  • World Broadcasting Unions is a global alliance of the 7 Broadcasting Unions of the world (6 regional + 1 linguistic based ASBU). Our members (radio and tv broadcasters) are present in each single country recognized by the United Nations, and even beyond.

  • In each country of the world our members are the older electronic media of the country, have produced and preserve audiovisual history and accompany the life of practically all the citizens of the world.

  • Despite all trendy and fancy information that circulates, the numbers are very clear. In April 2019 almost 4.4 billion people were active internet users as of April 2019, encompassing 58 percent of the global population. Penetration of TV is beyond 85% and penetration of radio is near to 95%. If you want to talk to young, rich and dynamic you use the internet. If you want to talk to the whole population of a country you have to use TV and, even more, radio.

  • When we talk of catastrophes and risk reduction, we are immediately talking of reach:

  • The whole or the maximum possible of the population of a country, region or city

  • The largest possible number of citizens In the shortest possible time

  • In the extreme and more difficult conditions

  • For the longest possible time, until the normal conditions of communications are not re-established

  • The experience of the last large scale disasters (such as Fukushima’s tsunami , of which NHK will surely tell us more) proved that the first communication tool to disappear is fixed telephony, second mobile telephony, third TV and, last of all, radio.

  • This chronology of the resilience of communication tools is crucial in situation like these, where the right information could make the difference and save (or lose) lifes.

  • In June 2017 in Portugal (not a developing country !) 60 people died in wildfires simply because they didn’t get the right information on where to go. Most of them left their houses and took the car, but in the wrong direction. Nobody told them that…

  • Public Service Media, as those that EBU has as members (BBC, RAI, FTV, ARD & ZDF, RTVE, etc.), and national broadcasters have as primary mission to provide correct and reliable information. Which information to citizen is more valuable and important than the one that allow them to save their lives ?

  • So we are here today with you, to support as much as possible the efforts of UNDRR to succeed in reaching all the target of the platform fixed in Sendai (location at 60 km from Fukushima….) in 2030

  • We are here to say that we need to strength the cooperation with institutions at this table such as WMO and ITU and also with others , because we need to work hand in hand to start from the good examples of cooperation that has been established in certain countries and regions and to extend those to the whole world.

  • In fact we are also here to say that there are some missing pieces in the puzzle of the Disaster Risk Reduction strategy built along these global conferences (Sendai, Cancun and today Geneva)

  • The biggest missing piece is that there is not a chapter on media in the Framework Plan. Media are still considered (in the plan) as those that have to cover the catastrophes, possibly in a gentle way and avoiding nasty pictures and sensationalism.

  • Yes. We are that. But we are a lot more than that. As ABU experience shows (you’ll see many examples in the second part of the session), media can create awareness, can educate, can prevent, can correctly inform and save lives, can assist people during the emergencies,

  • But in order to be able to do that we need:

  • To liaise at the global level (not only at country level or in one region) with ITU, WMO, UNESCO and all the networks that could provide vital information to save lives. And I hope this will happen more from tomorrow

  • To obtain the inclusion in the Sendai Framework of the media as partners IN EACH SINGLE REGION and later in each single country within the dispositive that coordinate the DRR strategy

  • What happened in Portugal has to be a big lesson for all of us and we need to engage to avoid that this could happen again. Those that have the information were not in contact with those that could provide to citizen and those that were in contact with citizens doesn’t know what the right info to give was

  • Internet and social media arrival has even made things more complicated, because people publishing partial information without a critical and a global view and fact checking skills, could be dangerous in situation like these…

  • We also need to start from positive regional examples (such as the best practice of Japan and Asia), to bring them to a global level as standard for all, including for the poorer countries.

  • But this will come at a cost, because resources for media are shrinking everywhere and asking for new duties without additional resources, is an equation that doesn’t work anymore

  • There is need for training, for make our infrastructure resilient, for preserving free to air spectrum for normal and emergency communication, and so on

  • It’s a hard task, but –altogether- we can make it. Starting from today.

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