Ebenezer specialises in Development Communication, International Development, Innovative Finance for…
Let`s nurture the nature, so that we can have a better future———Anonymous
Environmental Integrity simply means that your actions with regard to the environment match your felt or expressed priorities and values with regard to the environment. The ability to maintain an ecological balance in our planet`s natural environment and conserve natural resources to support the wellbeing of current and future generations is crucial and non-negotiable at any level. Businesses cannot be successful when the society around them fails.
Environmental integrity or sustainability, as echoed by the UN sustainable and millennium development goals (SDG, 15; MDG, 7), can be greatly facilitated through initiatives on radio designed to educate stakeholders on practices that negatively impact the environment. For example, in developing countries such as Ghana, the government has established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other related conservation or improvement organizations to redirect individuals, groups and corporate entities towards the attainment and sustenance of a healthy environment in the country at all levels. These organizations set guidelines to monitor and identify activities related to environmental protection and preservation.
The government has enacted various legislation to empower individuals and businesses across the country to carry out these functions and to encourage healthy environmental habits. Today, more attention is geared towards the mining industry as most of the activities in this industry affect the environment. The fact remains that the environmental issue is a value to which citizens in every nation refers, on which public expresses judgments and opinions, and which requires decisions and attitudes from all social classes, governments, enterprises, unions and others.
According to the Guide for the Civil Society (2015), a community radio has been defined as a radio for the people in a community. It is a radio of the people because it is a two-way process that is considered to empower people in the community to have opportunities to identify various problems around them and also create solutions to those problems.
It enables the most vulnerable to participate in decisions for positive change in their lives. Moreover, community radio allows people to collaborate in producing programs on the radio which focuses on their local concerns and priorities. Moreover, a vibrant community radio is expected to help the remotest communities to participate not only into the national and global economies, but also to the development of knowledge-based economies. It is known to sharpen and improve governance by empowering people to hold both local and governments leaders accountable.
Mass communication mediums especially radio has become crucial in the delivery of development programmes in communities. Thus, for any development activity to be accomplished, community radio as a tool is indispensable. Many government efforts at reaching the various rural communities with decentralization benefits have proved futile due to poor coverage and information dissemination. Various governments have had turns through policies (EPA, 1995) to address the issues of environmental sustainability. This requires effective strategies from stakeholders to effectively deal with the menace undermining achievement of a sustainable environment.
he achievement of development policies, programmes and projects is largely determined by the ability to marshal the masses for such programmes, policies or projects (Nwabueze, 2007); hence the need for mass communication medium of radio for campaigns on environmental sustainability. The usage of community radio for effective campaigns across the world, cannot be overemphasized.
Distinct features of community radio
- The audience as protagonists
The particular focal point of community radio is to make its audience the main standard-bearer, by their association in all portions of its management, content and program production, and by providing them with programming that will help them in the comprehensive development of the particular community.
- A special slant on news, entertainment and education
News on a community station is not an isolated story or event alone; rather, it aims to be a part of an ongoing and future process which supports change and development in the community. Education and entertainment are provided in a form that is collective cultural expression as well as sharing of experiences (Pate, 2013).
- Principles of public access and participation
It is citizen’s democratic right to get accurate, reliable and timely information. A community radio’s broadcast pattern reaches all members of community it aims to serve; the community is free to comment and criticize.
- Representation of different groups and interests in the community
Community radio broadcasts programmes that cater to vulnerable and marginalized groups in the community and encourage them to share their ideas and views on air. Disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the community will be able through the broadcast of their programmes, problems and limitations, issues etc.
- Inclusion of minority and marginalized groups
The programmes of community radio encourage wide diversity of thoughts and views from different marginalized groups, such as women and youth or gypsy and dalit community. Besides, community radio promotes the cultural perspectives and interests of the minority groups (Fraser, 2001).
- Promote development and social change
Sustainable development and positive social change of minority groups can be facilitated by community radio. It is community radio which can convey the sufferings and sorrows, difficulties and limitations of a community to the policy making authority. It can focus on the specific problems; arrange discussion on the remedies and mobile collective action.
Contributions of community radio to environmental integrity
Many principles underpin the activities of every community radio for effective and efficient delivering of service to its audience. According to Ngugu and Kinyua (2014), there is a general agreement on four principles that are seen as pillars of community broadcasting. These are access, diversity, localism, and independence. These principles serve as mechanism for community radio characteristics.
Relationship and localism
At the core of community radio is the relationship between the station and the community in which it is situated. Community broadcasting by definition should rely on programming generated by local communities. Thus, the local people should be allowed to produce programmes locally in the language and style which is recognised and accepted by the community.
Easy access allows local people to focus on local issues, giving voice to groups and individuals who otherwise have no choice but to remain silent. Issues on environmental integrity can be well deliberated with solutions to challenges established eventually.
Community radio stations programming should be based on community access and participation and should reflect the special interests and needs of the listenership it is licensed to serve (Fraser & Estrada, 2001). This is to emphasize that, the people that community radio station intend to serve should have full access to the day- to-day activities of the station.
Another principle of Community radio is to create a diversity of voices and opinions on the air through its openness to participation from all sectors. Some discord is present in all communities, but the acknowledgement of conflict is necessary for democracy and for democratic communities. Community radio tries to air objectively all sides of a discussion without itself taking sides.
Community radio as a matter of principle is to encourage open dialogue and democratic process by providing an independent platform for interactive discussion about matters and decisions of importance to the community. In essence, the core of democratic process is the ability of people to hear and make them heard. Community radio provides the forum for that to happen. This is consonant with the decentralization process in many countries that aims to bring democratic decision-making closer to the people concerned. And what is happening at the grassroots level as portrayed by the community (Fraser and Estrada, 2001).
Therefore, Community broadcasting should promote innovation, creativity and diversity of content. In its structure and output, community broadcasting must reflect community’s cultural diversity and by doing so support greater tolerance, understanding and social cohesion.
The United Nations Environment Programme in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, was a valuable proof that the environment is one of the most universally recognized values. Out of 178 countries, 118 of which embodied by Head of States, could deliberate environmental issues; where international agreements could be signed. Another proof is given by the many Green Directives originated by the European Union, in which most of them had already converted into national laws and regulations by the European countries. All these strategies and policies cannot achieve this goal without the full involvement of the mass media with community radio as a tool. It has the ultimate power for successful creation of environmental consciousness, conservation and preservation in Ghana and in Africa as a whole. The people therefore are encouraged and motivated to take appropriate actions that emancipate them from problems and improve overall living conditions which is the ultimate goal of society (Omeonu et al, 2020).
Ebenezer specialises in Development Communication, International Development, Innovative Finance for SMEs and Sustainability.