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HRNJ-Uganda’s Executive Director Joins Global Debate On Finding Solutions to Environmental Crisis


Bonn, Germany| HRNJ-Uganda

Robert Ssempala, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Network For Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) was among other media professionals who participated in the 17th edition of the Deutsche Welle (DW) Global Media Forum 2024 on June 17-18 at the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB), Germany.

Moderated by Vanessa Fischer, the head of the environment at DW, Ssempala along with Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar), Isabelle Schlapfer (Internews Europe), and Andrea Cairola (UNESCO), tackled a very complex topic, ‘A press for the planet: journalism in the face of the environmental crisis.’


“For the press to meaningfully impact and reverse the pending environmental crisis, there is a need to bridge the gap between journalists and the scientists to simplify the complex scientific research reports which can, in turn, be used by the media for public information and education,” Ssempala said.

To ensure smooth reporting of environmental-related news, Ssempala urged all the global actors “in our respective capacities to work so hard to ensure a conducive working environment as a precursor for journalists to constructively, freely and independently, hold to account the proponents of environmental degradation.”

Ssempala described the Global Media Forum 2024 as “a learning platform from various environmental protectors from across the globe on curving out practical solutions in confronting the environmental crisis.”

Other Ugandan journalists at the Forum included Culton Scovia Nakamya, a freelance reporter with Buganda Broadcasting Services (BBS TV) and founder of Her Story,’ who tackled ‘The power of democracy’.

Nakamya who appeared on a panel with Maria Resa (Rappler co-founder) and German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Annalena Barbockasserted that the power of democracy hugely relies on protecting a “free press and advancing women’s rights.”


Other issues deliberated on during this 2-day forum included the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on ethical issues, defending free access to online information under authoritarian rule, misinformation, and the future of journalism.

Another interesting topic tackled during GMF2024, was defending free access to online information under authoritarian rule by Peter Limbourg (DW), Marie-Doha Besancenot (NATO), Lev Gershenzon (The True Story), and Renate Nikolay, (European Commission).

“As much as we try to protect our own information space, we try to protect the Russian population and provide access to information,” Nikolay said, “we have to showcase how we do it in Europe.”

When he turned to speak, DW’s Limbourg said, “if we cannot reach people in Russia, it will be very hard to win their hearts and minds because they are so isolated.”

His remarks came because of the denial of entry to DW into Russia by President Putin since the protracted war between Russia and Ukraine started in 2022.

Regarding free, open internet, Limbourg said, “it is not about how much you invest, it is about whether you understand the problem. It is relevant for us all.”

He informed participants that to achieve this, DW promotes and has helped develop tools to ensure people worldwide have free access to information including the New Media Scan app from Open Observatory, integration of Psiphoninc into the DW app, and the Tor browser from the TOR project.

The DW Director General, Peter Limbourg explained that the GMF2024 theme was a “prudent strategy for all.”

He also addressed the challenges of AI and disinformation, saying, “… journalists must embrace AI responsibly to maintain public trust, ensure accuracy in reporting, and support democracy.”

Ellen Heinrichs, the CEO and founder of the Bonn Institute, used the Sharing Solutions session to show the necessity of transforming journalism on the country level.

“We need to focus much more on a diversity of perspectives, on solutions as well as on addressing the problems and fostering constructive dialogue with our audiences to engage them in a more democratic and diverse dialogue,” Ellen said.

The 17th edition of GMF2024 whose theme was “sharing solutions” attracted over 2,000 experts and reporters drawn from more than 120 countries.

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