Crossing Knowledge Frontiers – Second Indus Basin Regional Media Dialogue

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Earth Journalism Network, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Third Pole and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) organized a series of workshops to inform media about the key science issues in the Indus Basin.

The Third Pole is an initiative aimed at boosting coverage of climate and water issues in the Himalayan region and in downstream countries. It was formed through a partnership between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and ChinaDialogue.

The Indus River Basin is a key source of water to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. It is becoming more important to the fourth riparian country, China, as they build the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Around 300 million people live within the basin and many more benefit from its resources.

It is a basin under increasing stress due to climate change, rapid population growth and economic development. It is the only significant river basin in Pakistan, a country officially designated as water-stressed.

The basin is also known for the Indus Waters Treaty, a 1960 water sharing pact between India and Pakistan that has stood the test of time, although the two signatory countries have been at war with each other three times since then.

The media is a key channel for knowledge and information diffusion but partly due to the tense relationship between India and Pakistan, media coverage of Indus basin issues is sometimes coloured by extreme jingoism. This brings to the fore the need to help journalists understand the scientific realities of the basin and the commonality of issues faced by basin-dependent populations in all four riparian countries.

With this in mind, The Third Pole and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) have together organized a series of media workshops, two regional and one for each country. The objectives of the workshops were to:

  • Inform media about the key science issues in the Indus Basin;
  • Help in understanding issues faced by the media in reporting the Indus Basin and river system and identify ways to address gaps;
  • Provide a platform to facilitate future interaction between experts and journalists and support ways of encouraging more regular engagement.

The culminating regional media workshop as well as the China media workshop were held at the IWMI headquarters in Colombo on July 7-8.

The experts who presented at the workshop included Alan Nicol, IWMI; Naim Eqrar, Kabul University; Jiang Tong, China Meteorological Administration; Shakil Romshoo, University of Kashmir, Srinagar; Arif Anwar, IWMI; Tian Lide, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Peng Kui, The Global Environmental Institute, Beijing; and Yi Shaoliang, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Joydeep Gupta of The Third Pole was the lead trainer and conducted an interactive story ideas session.