Producing TV and radio programmes for environmental awareness

Using interactive multimedia methods to educate on sustainability issues
Using mass media for raising understanding on environmental health
Agenda 21 recommends that countries, in cooperation with the scientific community, should establish ways of employing modern communication technology for effective public outreach on the environment. National and local educational authorities and relevant United Nations agencies should expand, as appropriate, the use of audio-visual methods, especially mobile units in rural areas, by producing television and radio programmes for developing countries, involving local participation, employing interactive multimedia methods and integrating advanced methods with folk media.

Television has become the main source of news and information in Europe, as in the rest of the world. It is a powerful medium for putting across both positive and negative messages about environment issues. The recent growth in investment in digital and other television channels means that viewers have access to a profusion of profit-making channels beyond the state-owned ones, some of them with a large satellite "footprint" which takes no account of national borders. This has inevitably reduced the extent to which governments have a say in what their population is exposed to. Conversely, the arrival of digital television may lead to a large number of low-budget community-based channels, bringing increased opportunities for citizens and NGOs to participate in the medium and for broadcasting socially useful messages, but increasing the difficulty of getting messages across to a whole population due to fragmentation of audiences.

In the past, some governments have laid down the basic framework in which television stations should operate if they are to receive an operating licence. This may involve stipulating that a certain percentage of programming should be "socially purposive", e.g. addressing health, social or environmental issues. This category can also include "access television" or programmes which encourage viewer response and participation. Public service announcements on social, environmental or health issues, typically made by government agencies or NGOs as part of a public health or other campaign and slotted in between programmes, can be a powerful means of raising awareness. There is every reason to encourage national broadcasters to broadcast these regularly, free of charge. There is also a strong moral case for restricting the advertising of products which are damaging to health or the environment.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
Sustainable development
Type Classification:
G: Very Specific strategies