9th and 10th May 2023, Maldives

The ABU flagship initiative moves to Maldives for its seventh edition of facilitating broad interaction between key players in climate change adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction.  Since the last in-person summit held in Kathmandu in 2019, the world had changed dramatically due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Although it wiped out millions of lives and grounded the world for two years, the virus also enhanced the trust in science in general, including the climate science.  The pandemic also re-established the trust in media as a reliable source of  information which saves lives.

After the pandemic, there is a widely shared consensus  that governments, international organisations and NGOs should  put  media on the frontline of climate  change adaptation. That is the most efficient and cost-effective way of making climate action and disaster prevention everybody’s business.

Undoubtedly, the potential of media to accelerate climate action and disaster preparedness hasn’t been fully utilised. There is so much more  media can do in reaching and educating wider audiences about how climate change affects their lives, and what their governments and scores of intergovernmental organisations such as UNISDR, UNDP, UNESCO are doing to address threats to lives, health, food, water and national security.

Media is now recognised as a partner, not just a ‘microphone’ for disseminating other stakeholders’ messages. The partnership between the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and World Broadcasting Unions (WBU) brought to life the ground-breaking initiative UNDRR/WBU Media Saving Lives. In the last five years, over 64 broadcasters in the Asia-Pacific, African and Caribbean regions have been engaged within this initiative to strengthen their capacity to educate audiences.

The theme of this 7th ABU Media Summit on Climate Action and Disaster Prevention held in the Maldives is From Atolls to Alps and Arid Places: Communicating the Climate Change Challenge.

At first glance, it would seem the small, remote islands and coral atolls in the Indian and Pacific Oceans have little in common with the high valleys and snow-capped peaks of the majestic Himalayas and the arid wilderness of African deserts. In reality, they are closely linked through a common existential threat, namely, an increasing, human-induced carbon footprint which is contributing to global warming and climate change. This interconnectivity and interdependence is underlined by the theme of Summit “From Atolls to Alps and Arid Lands”.

As part of its long-term campaign Saving Lives: Building Resilient Communities, in 2014 the ABU launched in Jakarta the ABU Media Summit on Climate Action and Disaster Prevention. Since then the Summit has travelled to Krabi (2016), Dhaka (2017), Fiji (2018); Kathmandu (2019) and held online in 2021.

This year, the ABU calls its members, along with the members of its sister unions ASBU, AUB, CBU and EBU and its international partners, to the Maldives, which like all small island nations in the world faces the existential threat of rising sea levels and more frequent, unpredictable and intense weather patterns triggered by climate change. 

The aim of the Maldives Summit is to address these issues and link climate action and disaster preparedness stakeholders to media professionals for collaboration and joint practical projects.  At the same time, the Summit is an opportunity for media practitioners to learn first-hand of other stakeholders’ work.

A special focus of the two-day event would be Sustainable Tourism since, for the Maldives and most other Asia-Pacific countries, tourism is a key industry and a vital source of economic prosperity.

The ABU is grateful to the Government of the Maldives and its member in the Maldives Public Service Media for hosting the Summit.