WWW: Not-so-global as we think

By Tamara Chisholm, Environnement Jeunesse

Environmental issues are hot on the lips and fingertips of teens across Canada. One might say that the internet is the Star Trek Next Generation of communication for young people to discuss and browse their favorite environmental issues along with their fellow Web travelers. One can beam from topic to topic without straining a muscle. But is this relatively new mode of communication really the answer to our earthly problems?

Edgar Gonzalez Gaudiano of the Ministry of Environment in Mexico doesn't think so. At an IUCN World Conservation Congress workshop for implementing stratagies for sustainability he flirted with the notion that the internet is abruptly closing doors to less developed regions that don't have access to 'Web Travel'. "Most people don't even buy newspapers, let alone have internet access. People have to be able to identify with communication. Visual communication is what's hot, Canada is doing well in this respect, but less developed countries don't have the same resources".

Gaudiano stressed the point that forms of communication have to be such that people can relate to it. "We have to make policy available to people so they can understand it and take action. We communicate absolute truth, science and knowledge, but the fact is that this is not telling people what to do. Communication needs to be useful and tell us what we can and need to do." Gaudiano said that people don't believe what they are told, they don't trust messages, and "this lies in the fact that we have fostered a communication policy for indifference."

A workshop participant from the Netherlands shared his experiences, saying that posters, movies and games are effective modes of communication and Liana Talaue McManus of the Marine Science Institute in the Philippines echoed this sentiment saying that poetry, songs and posters are effective in her under developed region of Bolinao.

As Canadians, I understand that children of the developed world are lucky to be able to simply flick a switch and have immediate access to catacomes of vast information, but we should not forget that it is not that simple for everyone. Perhaps a web chat on what those areas not on-line could do to expand their communication abilities would be a good idea?