The World Federation of Science Journalists has been a granted consultative status with the United Nations.
The Consultative status, according to WFSJ President Milica Momcilovic, provides the body with new avenues for networking and lobbying.
Momcilovic, in a statement by the foremost science journalists organisation describes the recent development as an exciting transition.
“We are entering an exciting frontier where our organization can shape an agenda for science journalists around the world,” Momcilovic said.
This special recognition allows non-governmental organizations to work through the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to gain enhanced access to all aspects of this massive international body and its work. The UN regards this approach as a useful way of enlisting the expertise or informed advice of NGOs to apply their longstanding experience in particular regions and fields. For those same NGOs, consultative status provides an exceptional opportunity to express their views and influence ECOSOC activities.
“This kind of access represents nothing less than an ability to address a global audience on topics that are of vital importance to our members,” Momcilovic said.
According to her, it ushers the federation into UN premises as a trusted partner whose views will be met with definite respect and authority.
More specifically, representatives of the WFSJ will be able to attend UN-organized conferences and events, where they can offer written or oral statements and even organize side events.
Founded in November 2002 at the 3rd World Conference of Science Journalists in São José dos Campos (Brazil), the WFSJ was established to advance science journalism as a bridge between science, scientists, and the public, as well as promote the role of science journalists as key players in civil society and democracy.
Since its creation, the body has helped to improve the quality of science reporting by supporting programmes that promote standards, and support science and technology journalists worldwide. Its flag-ship programme, the Science Journalism Cooperation Programme (SjCooP) has helped science journalists across Africa and other parts of the world to discover themselves, making impacts with their stories.
With the latest recognition, the UN expects the WFSJ and other NGOs with consultative status to providing a well-informed perspective on urgent topics, sounding early warnings on problems or challenges, provide monitoring and implementation of international agreements as well as raising public awareness of key matters.
They are also expected to assist the United Nations in setting and reaching its major goals and objectives while contributing essential material for use by the UN.
In this light, the WFSJ becomes well placed to promote mutual understanding between cultures through dialogue, including a broad spectrum of ethical, social, environmental, diversity, economic, and health issues that our members regularly encounter in their work. Above all, the role of science journalism in society can now be highlighted in new ways.
“It is also worth noting that of the thousands of NGOs that have obtained consultative status with the UN, many are focused on scientific themes but very few are focused on journalism,” Momcilovic stated, adding that the federation is deeply honoured to find itself in the extraordinary position of establishing an unprecedented international profile for science journalism.