Back in the 1990s, environmental journalism was a brave choice – a relatively new, complicated topic that has only started to engage the global audience, while many broadcasters and newspapers were not yet convinced it was an issue of public interest. Despite all the odds, Mark Kinver decided to pursue the career, and never looked back. The environmental journalist has been working for BBC News for more than 17 years and is always inspired by trees, as much as by people and the mission to report the truth.
Horyou blog is happy to inaugurate the «Changemakers» interview series with Mark Kinver!
When and why did you start covering environmental issues?
I started reporting on environmental issues back in the late 1990s. I had always been interested in politics but I became a bit dismayed with the seemingly petty nature of disputes within political parties and within the mechanics of the party political process. I did not want to follow a career in an arena which left me feeling somewhat disenchanted. So I looked around for an issue/topic that I could focus on. The environment had always been a central part of my life. As a youngster, I either spent my time on moorland or beaches, and I loved trees (still do!). I have not looked back since then and have reported on environmental stories all over the world.
In the last few years, environmental issues have been gathering more global attention and making daily headlines. Are you optimistic about the public awareness of these topics?
Yes. People do care about environmental issues. Whether it is about the energy they use, the transport that takes them from A to B, the food they eat, or the plight of threatened species. What environmentally focused organisations and individuals need to remember is that people do care. However, they also care about keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on the table. It may not be the top priority for most people but it is still an issue. Give people facts and they will act. Give people emotion and they will become suspicious.
More often than not, environmental coverage touches on social issues. How to raise the public’s attention to the interconnectivity between the environment and society?
Avoid buzzwords and concepts like interconnectivity and interdependency etc. People just need to become aware of the relationship their have with the land around them. This will take time, and a big question is whether we have enough time left to make us all a sustainable species. I remain hopeful that we will forge a closer relationship with the planet and the means of how it sustains us.
Who inspires you in your work?
People on the front line. Farmers, scientists, business people, etc. They have to face real-world problems on a day-to-day basis, and they have to find the best solution they can. More and more of them are putting environmental considerations centre stage.
What will be your main focus in 2018?
Apart from trees (!) I think food security is going to be an issue we are going to hear more and more about. While there will be a focus on the food supply chains, we will also hear much more about nutrition security – in industrialised economies, experts are concerned that too much sugar and fat is being consumed. This concern will manifest itself in various guises, such as proposed economic instruments, public awareness campaigns and an increase in consumer awareness.