Former President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday launched a Climate Change in Africa: A Guidebook for Journalists, to direct practitioners on accurate reportage of the issues to enhance understanding of the people.
Mr Kufuor, who is the UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy on Climate Change, said climate change has become a global thief, which has been threatening human lives over the last three decades.
He said the phenomenon has also become an issue of survival, which no nation could escape from.
The media have been identified to play a critical role in helping people see that the world is under attack. It looks like nature is revenging for the abuses it has received over the years, he said.
The guidebook was prepared by UNESCO in collaboration with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Internews/Earth Journalism Network based on a research and a consultative process that included journalists from 17 African countries.
It is in response to findings that indicated gaps in the coverage of climate change and its impact on the livelihoods of people in Africa.
More than 100 dignitaries from the academia, government institutions, diplomatic community and media attended the event.
The guidebook targets journalists, editors, teachers and media trainers and is expected to deepen journalists understanding of key concepts in Climate Change reporting and to improve coverage on the subject.
Former President Kufuor said the continuous emissions of greenhouse gases the world over through indiscriminate felling of trees due to mans ignorance coupled with poor planning of towns and cities, has accumulated in slums, flooding, water stagnation as well as high heat waves that has been threatening nations.
He indicated that as UN Envoy on Climate Change, he and other two officials have been delegated by Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, to lead and mobilise nations to take climate change issues seriously.
He said: I represent the political face that will mobilise political heads of state to tackle climate change and come out with appropriate mitigation and adoptable measures.
He asked that countries, particularly, Ghana, to quickly start afforestation programme by planting various trees such as teak that grows faster to help absorb carbon dioxide that is destroying the ozone layer.
Town planning authorities in Ghana should also be up and doing and plan cities properly to avoid the slums we see all over. This will boost Ghanas efforts at reducing climate change impact in the world, former President Kufuor said.
Ms Moji Okuribido, Officer in-Charge of UNESCO in Accra, stated that although climate change is increasingly affecting the lives of people globally, the most adverse effects are felt in the developing nations, threatening the potential for development in these countries.
She said though African countries are among those to be adversely affected by climate change especially regarding health and livelihoods, there is evidence that the phenomenon is not adequately covered by African journalists.
She expressed the hope that with the introduction of the guidebook, the media would begin to pay more attention to climate change issues.
She expressed the hope that the provision of the guidebook for journalists would also provide the platform for dialogue and debate on climate change.
Ms Okuribido appealed to institutions responsible for training journalists to use the guidebook as a starting point in developing relevant curriculum content on climate change.
Ms Susan Ngongi, Acting UN Resident Coordinator, encouraged journalists to use the climate change book as a guide in telling the story of climate change, adding that journalists are key stakeholders in propagating the advantages and disadvantages of climate change and how people could adapt to mitigating measures.
This makes the media a good place to start the conversation of climate change with the wider audience, she said.
Ms Ngongi stated that climate change must be viewed as a threat multiplier, exacerbating already existing conditions of gender inequality and poverty, the effects of which were felt more by the poor in developing countries and called for all sectorial policies to factor issues on climate change and its effects on the nation.