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Asia-Pacific Story Grants 2020-21

Call for Proposals
Published on
19 Jul 2020
Woman sitting near street art in Bandung
19 August 2020, 02:00 AM, Asia/Bangkok (UTC +07) info.ejn [at]

With the world undergoing dramatic social and environmental change, we believe it is increasingly important for journalists to dig deep into stories that uncover the various drivers of this degradation, point out the actors and push decision-makers to respond.

We’re seeking stories that go beyond answering the basic who, what, when and where, and investigate how and why governments, businesses and financial institutions are acting in ways that directly or indirectly exploit our land and natural resources, and then outline the repercussions.

Environmental issues are often highly complex and interlinked with so many other social, political and economic challenges. We’re seeing that play out now in the Covid-19 pandemic and the ways in which it has exposed how closely tied environmental abuse is to public health outcomes. We encourage journalists to unravel the linkages that enable these exploitations to take place and explain their combined impacts on our planet.

Story Themes

We’re looking for incisive, in-depth stories that put human experiences at the center of the storytelling. Ideas should consider but not be limited to questions such as:

  • Could Covid-19 lead to a green wave in Asia ? Are governments thinking of ways to integrate more sustainable and environmentally friendly policies into economic stimulus packages? Or are governments pumping in funds to support polluting industries?
  • Have coal or oil and gas companies gotten bailouts? What about animal processing plants and factory farms? What does this indicate about those government’s commitments to the environment?
  • What’s the future for coal vs. renewable energy in a Covid-19 altered world?
  • What implications could the global economic downturn have on efforts to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss? Could countries shift funds they’d committed to cutting carbon emissions and boosting conservation toward rebooting their economies?
  • Could air quality in Asian cities worsen or improve amid the economic shutdowns many places have imposed?
  • How could Covid-19 travel restrictions and the resulting slump in tourism affect eco-tourism and conservation efforts?
  • How will Covid-19 travel restrictions affect migration and land rights?
  • Are communities that have responded to past disasters – by creating community gardens to ensure access to food, for example – weathering the pandemic better?
  • Are communities that bear the brunt of climate change and other environmental destruction more vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of Covid-19?
  • How are Covid-19 restrictions impacting the ability of governments and/or communities to respond to environmental threats? The locust swarms in East Africa and India, for example.
  • How are indigenous people managing their customary forests and protecting and conserving forests and biodiversity? Are they pushing for greater land rights or finding innovative ways to protect themselves from the impacts of environmental degradation? Has the Covid-19 pandemic made those efforts more challenging?


We encourage reporters to view this not just as an environmental story and to think outside their beat, considering ways their reporting could convey the intersection between the environment and other themes, such as health and the economy.

We also encourage the use of multimedia and relevant data to illustrate the issue in a compelling and easy-to-understand way. Applicants for long-form and multimedia narratives should include plans and budget for accompanying multimedia elements and distribution channels in their pitch.

While the stories should be backed by scientific evidence and incorporate data in a simple and compelling way, they should also focus on proven adaptations and responses to these challenges.

We’re particularly interested in stories that uncover corruption, highlight transboundary issues, address the safety of environmental defenders and call out state and business practices that are impacting negatively on the environment and the lives of local communities.

This round of grants comes from EJN’s Asia-Pacific program and is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).


For the purposes of this grant call, we are accepting applications from South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific region but not Australia or New Zealand.

Applications are open to journalists (online, print, television, radio) and other expert media practitioners with experience in investigative reporting and covering environmental issues. We encourage applications from freelancers and staff from all types of media organizations – international, national, local and community-based.

We are seeking to support both early career and senior journalists with many years of reporting experience. We’ll accept both individual and group applications, but for the latter, we ask that the application is made in the name of one lead applicant who will receive the grant on the group’s behalf, if awarded.

Story Approach & Format

We expect to award around 30 grants averaging $1,500 depending on the proposal and needs. We will consider larger grant amounts for stories using innovative or investigative approaches that may be more costly and time-consuming.

Applicants should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested using the template provided below. We have not set a specific amount because we are asking you to consider what you'll need to do this type of reporting. We do ask that the budgets be reasonable and account for costs necessary for reporting without being extraneous. We expect that stories will be produced with equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies. 

Stories can be produced in any language. But applicants who intend to write or produce stories in their local language need to also include an English translation. Please include the cost for translation in the budget, if necessary.

Those who are awarded grants are free to publish or broadcast their stories in their affiliated media as long as EJN and Sida are also given rights to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute them freely. Freelance reporters should demonstrate a plan for publication or broadcast and are encouraged to provide a letter of interest from an editor.  

Judging Criteria

Applicants should consider the following points when devising their story proposals:

  • Relevance: Does the proposal meet the criteria and objectives of this call? Why does this story matter and to whom? Is the main idea, context and overall value to the target audience clearly defined?
  • Angle: If the story has been covered by mainstream media, does your proposal bring new insights into the topic or offer a fresh angle? 
  • Impact: Does the proposal have a compelling narrative or investigative element that will inform and engage, draw attention, trigger debate and urge action? 
  • Innovative storytelling: The use of creative approaches, multimedia and data visualization will be considered a plus.


Application Process

  1. Click on the Apply Now button at the top of the page. 
  2. If you have an existing account, you’ll need to log in. If not, you must register for an account by clicking “Join the Network” on the top right of the page.
  3. If you start the application and want to come back and complete it later, you can click “Save Draft.” To return to the draft, you’ll need to go back to the opportunity and click “Apply Now” again to finalize the application.
  4. Applicants should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template now by clicking on this linkWe expect that proposals will largely reflect what equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies. Please include the cost for translation in the budget, if necessary. Please also note on your budget form if you are receiving funding from other donors for the story.
  5. You must submit three samples of stories or links to relevant work. You’ll be asked to upload these once you start the application process so please get them ready beforehand.
  6. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: August 28th, 2020 at 5:00pm ICT

If you encounter any difficulties submitting your application or have questions about the grants, please email [email protected].

Banner image: A woman sits in front of a display of street art in Bandung, Indonesia / Credit: Ali Yahya on Unsplash

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