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Journalists Called Key to Environmental Issue

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today, an African saying goes.


The words are appropriate to demonstrate the urgency of establishing a circular economy that may sustain development, particularly considering the extensive environmental damage humans have already caused and the depletion of resources during decades of exploitation, said experts and journalists during an international workshop in Shenzhen on Saturday.


More than 200 officials, researchers and journalists from 26 countries attended the 16th annual congress of the Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ).


Facing a degree of environmental degradation unprecedented in history, participants called on journalists in the region to make immediate, concerted efforts to motivate more people to protect their habitat.


They also urged governments and institutions to work together towards sustainable development.


"The participation of the media, through news reporting and supervision, provides an effective tool for the public to take part in the decision-making process, " said Li Renchen, chairman of the China Forum for Environmental Journalists (CFEJ).


Pan Yue, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), told participants that behind the fast growth of China's economy is serious environmental abuse, which has posed an immediate threat to the further development of the nation and infringed on public interests.


He said his administration is working to set up a new green GDP (gross domestic product) system, to take into account ecological damage and pollution treatment costs when calculating economic gains.


At the same time, government officials will be evaluated by a new set of rules that encourages economic success with less resource use and fewer environmental woes.


Pan, who was once an environmental reporter, said Chinese journalists have already left their mark in history.


Their coverage of environmental issues in recent years has fostered public awareness and pressured decision makers to shift to a sustainable development approach.


He encouraged journalists to take more aggressive action against polluters and supervise the decision making process of the government, so that the public is better informed of environmental issues.


Mangal Man Shakya, secretary-general of the APFEJ, said the previous meetings of his forum have helped promote co-operation among the countries in the region. He said he hopes this session, which ended yesterday, would produce more consensus and lead to more programs for regional collaboration.


(China Daily November 29, 2004)

Journalists Respected by Public
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