REMARKS: SG Puna Statement on World Press Freedom Day 2024

03 May 2024

Pacific Islands Forum SG, Henry Puna, provides the annual statement for World Press Freedom Day 2024
with its global theme "A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis".


Pacific Islands Forum SG, Henry Puna,
World Press Freedom Day 2024
A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis

May 3, WPFD, 2024—Today, the world honours the role of journalists to work without fear of favour, serving the public interest, access to information, and the right to know. 

A Press for the Planet—Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis is undoubtedly a timely and critical theme for those reporting on climate and the environment. Quality journalism can only build quality awareness and decision-making around a complex and multi-faceted issue already challenged by misinformation, disinformation, and lack of information access. 

Our Pacific Leaders recognise the significant role of journalists and environmental journalism in sharing the priorities and realities of our resilient Pacific. A free press, exercising media integrity and working in safety can only bring our hopes for a Just Transition, Urgent ambition, and Climate Finance, closer. 

On this World Press Freedom Day, many will join me in honouring quality journalism, particularly our own Pacific journalists, who ensure our island communities are not silent in the face of the global environmental crisis. There can be no more important stories than those we must share with the world. Those helping our people in this work must be valued, respected, and celebrated.

This is why every May 3rd for the last three years it has been my pleasure to highlight the partnership and scrutiny of the media as vital aspects of our Pacific democracies. I have urged journalists across our Blue Pacific Sea of islands and the world to continue to expose and ask the questions around climate finance, loss and damage, the ocean-climate nexus, gender equality and social inclusion, the 1.5-degree, net zero future – and the need for urgent climate ambition and resilience financing. 

Not later, but now. 

It takes integrity, ethics, balance, and facts to challenge climate denial, climate misinformation, disinformation, and the rising frequency of attacks on journalists and news outlets reporting on the environment. These threats against those reporting the war on our environment are mirrored by the threats to those journalists reporting the war on democracy and the rule of law. I know many, like me, absolutely condemn the targeted killing of journalists, aid workers, civilians, and children in Gaza. 

Our Leaders want Peace—for our planet, for all people, for all. We recognise the role of the media in reporting the state of our planet and our nations. We know that in the climate spaces, journalists connect the voices of our SIDS to a waiting, watching world.

And finally, may I pay my respects and full support to our Pacific High-Level Political Climate Champions. You’ve shared our Pacific priorities on climate with the world’s media. Your words and voices light the way for a better world. --- ENDS