Internews’ Earth Journalism Network is excited to announce the launch of a new two-year project, which will work to improve media coverage of two highly topical environmental issues. This work, kindly supported by Svenska Postkodstiftelsen (the Swedish Postcode Foundation), will shine a spotlight on the hopes for a so-called “green recovery” emerging from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the role of Indigenous Peoples as defenders of most of the world’s remaining biodiversity.
A green recovery?
When economies began to slow due to Covid-19 lockdown measures, government stimulus plans worth trillions of dollars were announced to revive the economy and boost business and job opportunities. Some economists, government leaders and energy organizations have called this an opportunity for a “green recovery”, a win-win situation which will reinvigorate the economy while working towards a greener and low-carbon future.
However, although many governments have included “green” measures in their crisis recovery packages, thus far the balance between green and non-green spending is not favorable for a positive environmental and climate outcome. This is a critically timed opportunity for governments to shape investment for years to come, and for the public to have a voice in ensuring that their country is rebuilt better than before.
To build journalists' capacity to report on the green (or not-so-green) recovery, EJN will host webinars and invite expert speakers to discuss the issues, and provide story grants for reporters who need financial support and mentorship. EJN will provide mentoring to grantees, and also organize a training workshop for a select group of dedicated environmental journalists to enhance their skills and understanding on how to report on this topic, and benefit from the knowledge of technical experts and senior environmental journalists. To ensure wider impact, EJN will also develop an open-access online training course, which will provide reporters with both the technical knowledge and resources they need to write stories on green recovery packages and related issues.
The last defenders of global biodiversity
Despite comprising less than 5% of the world’s population, Indigenous communities protect 80% of global biodiversity. While millions of species face extinction worldwide, biodiversity decline is less pronounced on the lands of Indigenous Peoples, indicating that these communities are more effective at managing natural resources sustainably. It has therefore become widely recognized that protection of the environment and of the rights and culture of Indigenous communities are strongly interlinked, a fact that has become only more apparent during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
“World over, Indigenous Peoples are often not well served by mainstream national news media. EJN is working to change that. Our previous story grants to Indigenous journalists have shown that financial support and mentorship are critical factors in reporting untold environmental stories that are of utmost importance to Indigenous Peoples. The Green Recovery project will enhance our efforts to further support and expand the field of Indigenous journalism,” says Indigenous journalist Stella Paul, EJN's Environment and Health Project Officer.
Building on our recent work supporting Indigenous reporters in Latin America, this project will highlight both the important role played by Indigenous Peoples as guardians of nature, and the ongoing threats to their rights, identity and their very lives. Illegal mining, poaching and deforestation, forest fires, land grabbing, and the now-compounded shock of the Covid-19 pandemic is having disastrous consequences for both these people and the planet we all share.
The activities for this component of the project will also involve webinars from Indigenous and other expert speakers, story grants and mentoring for Indigenous journalists, a training workshop for Indigenous journalists to develop their skills and share their experiences, and an open-access online training course, which will provide Indigenous and non-Indigenous reporters with a deeper understanding of the threats facing Indigenous Peoples globally, as well as the benefits their environmental stewardship provides to the planet.
A critically timed project
“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought disruption and devastation to many communities, but also a glimmer of opportunity for us to make the world better than it was before,” says Charlie Debenham, EJN’s Program Coordinator. “This critically-timed project will help to keep public attention on Covid-19 recovery stimulus packages, as well as highlight the vital stewardship of global biodiversity by Indigenous Peoples.”
The project will kick off with a webinar and story grant call for each topic later this year and into early 2022.
Banner image: Protest called by Extinction Rebellion Geelong against the Australian Federal Government's plan for a gas-led recovery out of the coronavirus pandemic / Credit: Matt Hrkac on Flickr.