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Biodiversity Story Grants 2021

Call for Proposals
Published on
03 Nov 2021
A flamingo with others in the background
3 December 2021, 02:59 AM, Pacific/Niue (UTC -11) (Extended Deadline) info.ejn [at]

EJN is offering reporting grants to support the production of in-depth stories that highlight previously untold threats to global biodiversity or explore new conservation-based solutions.

Please read the following sections carefully, as they contain important information on eligibility and the application process.


The Earth is home to millions of species whose interactions keep our ecosystems and our planet in balance. All species depend on the services ecosystems provide, such as fresh water, pollination, soil fertility and stability, and food. From an anthropogenic perspective, at least 40% of the world’s economy and 80% of the needs of the poor are dependent on biological resources.

Yet, human activity is currently driving a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, with more than 1 million species currently at risk of extinction.

The upcoming 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is now slated to take place in Kunming, China in April-May 2022, will seek to address the biodiversity crisis—one of the most pressing issues of our time.

The draft goals for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework include proposals to conserve 30% of the world’s oceans and land by 2030, to reduce pollution from pesticides, plastic waste, and nutrient excess by 50% by 2030, support integration of biodiversity-related information into business reporting and promote the sustainable harvest of wild species.

Over the next few months, in the lead-up to COP15, the media has an important part to play in raising awareness of biodiversity issues and enabling citizens, policymakers and private companies to debate and determine their commitments to address the drivers of biodiversity loss.

EJN is looking to highlight the gravity of the biodiversity crisis by commissioning a series of stories that investigate new threats to species diversity around the world, as well as explore innovative, potentially scalable conservation solutions—led by governments, corporations or communities—to protect the Earth’s remaining biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of what has already been lost. 

This is the second round of story grants under EJN’s Biodiversity Media Initiative, with financial support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. You can read published stories from the first round of Biodiversity story grants here.

Story Themes

We welcome all story ideas, but special consideration will be given to applicants looking to conduct investigative or enterprise reporting on biodiversity or conservation topics.

As we are looking to raise global awareness about new threats or solutions, proposals that focus on topics or stories that have not been widely covered are preferred. Issues that have already received a lot of media coverage or don't provide unique angles are less likely to be selected.


For the purposes of this grant call, we are only accepting applications for stories focused on the countries listed here, though journalists from any country can apply. We will also consider applications for stories about Russia, or by Russian journalists. 

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 between 10-14 grants of ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, 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 this templateWe 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 producing new supplies.

Stories can be produced in any language. However, 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, Arcadia, and our partners 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 the editor.

Please note that all stories produced for this project must be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License — if you have questions about this, get in touch using the email address provided.

Judging criteria

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

  • Relevance: Does the proposal meet the criteria and objectives of the 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 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. Applications should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template here. We expect that proposals will largely rely on the use of 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. We will consider some costs for the reporters’ salary, particularly if the applicant is a freelancer, but this should be a small portion of the total budget. Please include the cost for translation, if necessary. Please also note on your budget form if you are receiving funding from any other donors for the story. 
  5. You must submit two samples of stories or links to relevant work. You'll be asked to upload these as part of the application process.

If you encounter any difficulties submitting your application or have questions about the grants, please email [email protected]. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Banner image: Flamingo at Parque das Aves, in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil / Credit: Vladimir Soares on Unsplash.

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