Effective responses to climate change must include people in climate-vulnerable regions in the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies. The media in these regions can play an important role in communicating the issues, but the media in many developing countries shows little interest in the climate change debate.

Research from Panos London, UK, examines the experiences of journalists and media professionals in Honduras, Jamaica, Sri Lanka and Zambia. These countries have all recently suffered severe changes in climatic conditions. Nearly all the journalists interviewed agreed that climate change is a major issue, and provided examples from their own countries.

However, the research suggests that the media in each country could play a greater role in stimulating debate and providing coverage of climate change issues: Honduras suffers from deforestation and land degradation, but environmental issues and climate change are not a priority for the media. In Jamaica, few newspaper columns, radio or TV programmes focus specifically on the environment. In Zambia, there is very little coverage of climate change, despite frequent droughts over Southern Africa. The situation is better in Sri Lanka, where media coverage of environmental issues is good.

However, although the media covers hurricanes, droughts and flooding, the stories do not often make a link to climate change. Journalists identified several obstacles to reporting climate change stories. They lack access to quality information on the subject, and most information is only available in English. Also the national media is often controlled by businesses with other priorities and little interest in the debate.