5 EJN Fellows Covered the Seventh Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly in Vancouver, Canada 

people stand in front of a GEF signboard
5 EJN Fellows Covered the Seventh Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly in Vancouver, Canada 

Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN), offered fellowships to journalists cover the Seventh Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly, held in Vancouver, Canada from August 22-26. The journalists selected to attend were: 

  • María Camila Bonilla, El Espectador (Colombia) 
  • Hadeer Elhadary, Ozone Al-Ein (Egypt) 
  • Spoorthy Raman, freelance (India/Canada) 
  • Fermín Koop, Diálogo Chino (Argentina) 
  • Pia Araneta, Freelance (Philippines/Canada) 

Fellows had a front-row seat as more than 1,500 people from around the world, including ministers,  environmental leaders and managers from the government, business, academia, and civil society, including Indigenous peoples, women and young people. The participants witnessed the launch of the new multi-billion fund to protect biodiversity, with Canada pledging 200 million Canadian dollars and the United Kingdom contributing 10 million pounds.  

seated man
Fellow Fermín Koop at a press briefing / Credit: EJN.

The fellowship, supported by the GEF, enabled journalists to report on the high-level negotiations and decisions made regarding global environmental and climate financing instruments.  

With support from EJN media trainers Ramesh Bhushal (Senior South Asia Coordinator) and Imelda Abaño (Senior Coordinator for the Philippines and Pacific Region), fellows took part in daily briefings, interviewed officials – including Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF chief executive officer, David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Valerie Hickey, Global Director of Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy at the World Bank,  Tom Bui, Global Affairs Canada’s Environment Director and co-chair of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council – attended press conferences and other group interviews with Indigenous peoples and women’s organizations, and sat in on roundtable sessions on biodiversity-related topics. The fellows also attended sessions with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault,  and Minister of International Development, Ahmed Hussen. 

Over the course of the week, stakeholders sought to make progress on four goals (confronting biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution and strains on land and ocean health, on 23 targets including adaptation strategies, private sector engagement and financing solutions, and to forge new partnerships focused on addressing the drivers of ecological challenges under the overarching theme of “Healthy Planet, Healthy People.”   

“I have always been interested in covering biodiversity issues, especially in learning more about the ways that Indigenous communities, youth and women can access the new funds provided by the GEF. This fellowship was a great opportunity for us to cover the event,” said María Camila Bonilla, reporting for El Espectador.  

“We had the opportunity to report back to our countries especially on issues surrounding climate financing and biodiversity. The fellowship gave us a wealth of knowledge on how to best report on the issues. We particularly appreciate the EJN trainers for supporting us in our reporting throughout the event,” said Hadeer Elhadary, reporting for Ozone Al-Ein in Egypt. 

“Throughout the assembly,  journalists had the chance to witness how biodiversity and climate issues were being discussed at high-level sessions and roundtables, where the importance of including  youth, women and Indigenous Peoples in environmental decision-making processes was reiterated,” said EJN’s Abaño.  

“Being able to meet sources from across the globe in-person helped fellows enrich their stories; attending side events helped them shape their story ideas,” added Bhushal.  

In addition to supporting fellows on the ground, the media trainers also shared information from the Assembly with other journalists in EJN’s network, who were selected for the opportunity but were unable to procure their visas in time to travel to Vancouver. 

So far, the fellows and media trainers have produced 13 stories (in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic) to inform their audiences about how the GEF’s new Fund and policies would likely impact funding for biodiversity conservation and climate adaptation and mitigation in their home countries. You can read them on the EJN website.  

people seated around a table
Fellows had the opportunity to interview high-level officials at the Assembly / Credit: EJN. 

Banner image: Fellows and media trainers in Vancouver, Canada / Credit: EJN.  

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