Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Focus on eco-tourism at upcoming Sarawak Summit

Eco-tourism is a key development target for many developing countries for it can bring much-needed money into impoverished areas. It can also help people understand and appreciate the importance of biodiversity. However, eco-tourism can also increase disturbance in sensitive areas.

So how can eco-tourism play a positive role in conservation? How can this role be enhanced? How should it be portrayed in the media?

The coming International Media and Environment Summit (IMES) in Kuching, Sarawak, from Nov 30 to Dec 2 seeks to address these issues in a session entitled Ecotourism – Boon or Bane?

Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Leo Toyad, a keynote speaker at the summit, says the gathering will discuss the challenges of using the media to project eco-tourism in an effective way.

“Eco-tourism is central to sustainable development, offering one key realistic solution to the apparent conflicts between environmental protection and economic growth. The success of eco-tourism initiatives depends to a great extent on how it is portrayed to the public, through the media,” he says.

News World Nature, the organiser of the summit, encourages participation from tour operators as the gathering will provide an opportunity for talks with the international media, environmental scientists and policy-makers. They can also join an exhibition to be staged alongside IMES.

IMES will bring together the media, scientists, environmental organisations, the academia, and corporate policy decision-makers to debate on how best to report on pressing environmental issues.

One session titled Hurricane Katrina: A Global Expertiment will discuss whether disasters like Hurricane Katrina warn of a conflict between natural and human processes, and whether media coverage of such events have sufficiently conveyed the environmental causes and consequences of these disasters.

Other topics at IMES: Who Sets the Media Agenda?; Balancing the Agenda; The Challenges of Covering the Marine Environment; The Media’s Love Affair with Orang Utans and Cuddly Bears; and Disseminating Eco Science to a General Audience.

Among the speakers are filmmaker and conservationist Prof David Suzuki, Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) director Sir Peter Crane, IUCN-The World Conservation Union vice-president Javed Jabba, renowned underwater photographer Michael Aw, Great Apes Survival Project senior consultant Ian Redmond, Animals Asia Foundation director Jill Robinson, Wild Aid founder Steve Galster, Wild Asia (Malaysia) director Dr Reza Azmi, Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia Programme director Dr Melvin Gumal and Asia-Pacific Federation of Environmental Journalists chairman Quamrul Chowdhury.

Learn more at http://www.newsworldnature.com/. Exhibitors seeking more information should contact Illka Gobius at +65-67283820 or e-mail illka@newsworldnature.com.

Source: The Star

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