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Nestle, LBS train journalists on solutions journalism, climate change

As part of efforts to encourage vibrant journalism, Lagos Business School (LBS) Sustainability Centre and Nestle Nutrition Institute, recently, trained journalists on solutions journalism, climate change, health and environmental awareness and how they apply to business, agriculture and society.

Topics treated during the virtual programme include, writing, reporting, research, data analytics, presentation and reporting.

With the theme, ‘Advancing Nutrition, Health and Environmental Awareness through the Media,’ the programme’s objectives include, equipping print, broadcast and online journalists with fundamental knowledge on shared value/sustainability, skills to develop compelling stories, video contents and podcasts.

Others are, understanding how these issues play out in the corporate environment, learning the use of solution-based storytelling techniques for environmental, health and Nutrition to keep readers, listeners and audiences engaged and learning how to use creative content development in improving the impact of stories, as well as, understanding how to address ethical dilemma in the journalism career.

Managing Director, Nestlé Nigeria, Mr. Wassim Elhusseini, commended participants and urged them to improve their reportage using solutions journalism.

He said as an organisation, “we are mindful of protecting our environment for future generations.”

Elhusseini disclosed that the training was organised to enhance the capacity of journalists to play vital roles in awareness creation in the areas of nutrition, health and the environment.

To him, as the world grapples with challenges of climate change, all hands must be on deck to address the challenges.

“Your reports and stories can help increase awareness about protecting the environment, nutrition and health. In addition to providing you with up-to-date information on nutrition and the environment and the solution we are deploying to combat climate change, the programme also aims to build on your foundational knowledge,” he advised.

Elhusseini added, “we trust that all you have learned about solutions journalism writing, research, data analysis, reporting. These will set you apart and provide you with more opportunity.”

Similarly, Dean of Lagos Business School, Prof. Chris Ogbechie, stressed the need for journalists to be at the forefront in reporting, using solutions journalism strategies and awareness creation.

Ogbechie said it involves lots of work in gathering the data, but it is worth venturing into. He added the training has become imperative because of the power the media wield to shape the future through writing.

He observed that the media could tell compelling stories that would shape the way firms invest and run their businesses.

He disclosed, “Nestlé has invested in this programme to equip journalists in Advancing Nutrition Health and Environmental Awareness through the Media. This certification is a call for journalists to write stories that positively influence action.”

In his presentation, communication strategist, Chidorum Nwakanma, who spoke on, ‘Solutions Journalism: Action and Change’, said as part of broader journalism for social change movement, which does not push or pursue agenda of development or multilateral agencies.

While stating, “it is not agenda-driven or ideological,” he noted that its “main purpose remains the same as mainstream journalism and impacts greatly on the society.”

Other features, he said, include, focusing in-depth on a solution to a problem or issue, examining how response works in meaningful details, focusing on effectiveness rather than good intentions and bringing the reader or viewer to an insight about how the world works.

Nwakanma identified proponents of solutions journalism as David Bornstein and Tina Rosenberg, veteran reporters, who write the Fixes column in The New York Times, and Courtney Martin, a journalist and author, who got her start just as online media was exploding. He said they also founded the Solutions Journalism Network.

He further revealed that the three of them had unique journeys — through the farmlands of India, the hospitals of Brazil, and the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, which led them to the same conclusion: there wasn’t enough healthy competition among journalists for great stories about responses to social problems in the world.

Amara Nwankpa lectured on ‘Food Security and Climate Change in Nigeria’. With specific reference to Northern Nigeria, he observed that the shrinking of Lake Chad, over the past 40 years, has led to poverty and displacement of farm and fishing communities.

He said that rapid desert encroachment is contributing to escalating conflict between farmers and herders resulting in food insecurity.

In South East Nigeria, he noted that heavy downpours have accelerated erosion, destroying land and fertility of soil, forcing members of affect stated communities to relocate. Along the coastal states, he said communities are destroyed as a result of rising seal levels.

For climate resilient agriculture, he suggested governance and stakeholder engagement, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) strategy and implementation frameworks and community level capabilities to develop and implement CSA infrastructure, strategies and practices.

Eugene Ituah spoke on ‘Environmental Stewardship: Exploring the impact of Plastic Pollution’. He described plastic as an incredibly useful material, but it is also made from toxic compounds known to cause illness. He revealed that a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. Since 1950s, he further revealed, around 8.3billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide. He also disclosed that about two million plastic bags are used every minute.

Ituah also raised the need to conserve wildlife (biodiversity), maintain and enhance quality and character of the landscape and protect the historic environment.

Sustainability Associate at LBS, Mrs Oreva Atanya, presented a paper on the topic, ‘Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Nigeria Agenda 2050 through Business and Shared Value’.

Quoting World Commission on Environment and Development, Atanya said sustainable development entailsmeeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

She said numerous social and environmental problems have plagued the nation’s economies and communities. She noted that Nigeria is signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, adding that this is a welcome development. She argued that there is need to continue the conversation on inclusive and sustainable environment, societies and the economy.

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