EJN Trains 40 Journalists on Coastal Resilience, Climate Finance and Solutions Journalism in Virtual Workshop

Climate Resilience Sector Project in Tonga
EJN Trains 40 Journalists on Coastal Resilience, Climate Finance and Solutions Journalism in Virtual Workshop

“40% of the world's population, or around 3 billion people, live within 100 kilometers of a coastline. That's 3 billion stories and more that you could talk about,” said EJN’s Coastal Resilience thematic expert Lucienne Noel, who opened EJN’s virtual media workshop earlier this month. 

The three-day workshop, which took place for 2.5 hours every day from May 2-4, 2023, was held as part of EJN’s Covering Coastal Resilience project with support from the Kingfisher Foundation. The project  provides funding and mentorship to journalists and media outlets around the world to increase coverage and understanding of coastal resilience issues. 

Participant Saleem Shaikh, a journalist from Pakistan, asks EJN’s Thematic Expert on Coastal Resilience Lucienne Noel why coastal resilience is a term we need to be reporting on now / Credit: EJN.

On the first day, expert speakers focused on solutions to minimize coastal climate impacts, sharing case studies and examples from around the world. Judy Haner, Marine and Freshwater Programs Director for the U.S. state of Alabama at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), presented on a restoration and resiliency project for the community of Bayou la Batre, and the role nature-based solutions played in the effort. Afterward, Miyamoto International Associate Principal and architect Adriana Navarro-Sertich dived into the sponge city strategy, a methodology for building resilient coastal cities.  

Navarro-Sertich highlighted that the sponge city strategy employs a systems-based approach and encouraged journalists to do the same in their reporting: “[A systems-based approach] allows you to take a more holistic, 360-degree understanding of what not only the challenges are but what are some of these co-benefits and solutions … looking at a larger network of opportunities.” 

Miyamoto International’s Adriana Navarro-Sertich presenting at the workshop / Credit: EJN.
Miyamoto International’s Adriana Navarro-Sertich presenting at the workshop / Credit: EJN.

Haner from TNC emphasized the importance of follow-up, both for maintenance of the nature-based solution but also for journalists: “We didn’t stop when the grant money ended. We continued on so we could learn what really worked and what didn’t work,” she said. “[After] two years, it looks great, but what does it look like at five years?” She flagged that conservation wins come from long-term investment and monitoring – something journalists need to take into account when reporting. 

On day two, speakers focused on the costs of losing coastal resilience, and how coastal resilience is financed: Conniel Malek, the Executive Director of the True Costs Initiative, presented on the  concept of true costs – the idea that the price of products and services should include their true economic value and impact, including environmental harms like pollution, climate change and more.  

Malek highlighted that the definition of true costs goes beyond that: “The true costs lens helps us identify imbalances in power, in resources and in access, and we think if we use a true cost lens, we can insist on business practices that prioritize people, not profit,” she said. 

True Costs Initiative Executive Director Conniel Malek presenting at the workshop / Credit: EJN.
True Costs Initiative Executive Director Conniel Malek presenting at the workshop / Credit: EJN.

Then, Oxford Net Zero’s Jessica Omukuti gave an overview of climate finance on the global scale, and the failure of wealthy countries to provide enough money to offset climate harms. In her presentation, Omukuti stressed that there’s a lot of missing stories for journalists: “We have a lot of evidence at the global level – how much money do we have, how much money do we not have – but the evidence on how the different financing mechanisms are working is missing,” she said. “We need stories on the effectiveness of finance … follow the money: find out whether that money is doing what it’s supposed to do.” 

"Climate finance at the moment is not working for those who are most affected by climate change."

The final day of the workshop centered on storytelling. Journalists and EJN grantees Yasmin Arquiza from the Philippines and Laura Grant and Leonie Joubert from South Africa shared their experiences covering coastal resilience stories, specifically ones about storm resilience.  

EJN Covering Coastal Resilience Project Manager Hannah Bernstein asks South African journalist Leonie Joubert how you find that central main character to guide your story / Credit: EJN.

Solutions Journalism Network’s Ruona Meyer led a session on solutions journalism for coastal stories – how to report on coastal solutions in a robust, evidence-based way.  

“Some of the coastal resilience projects that have been carried out by my government, it seems to not be what these communities need,” shared participant Vivian Chime from Nigeria. “[The workshop] helped me as a journalist to understand that when I’m reporting, I’m also supposed to report from the perspective of trying to understand if this is a solution that this community actually needs.” 

Then, EJN’s Editor and Content Officer Amrita Gupta shared pitching tips with the participants, before they headed into breakout rooms with EJN media trainers for a pitch workshop. 

“It was really important to have this exchanging of opinions and questions,” shared participant Caterina Morbiato from Mexico. "You can improve what you are writing, learn something more from someone else and it’s really essential.” 

"A solutions story is about a response to a problem, not just the problem."

Selected participants will also receive a story grant to cover a coastal resilience story of their choice. Look out for their stories on EJN’s website later in the year. 

Banner image: Hard and soft infrastructure interventions to protect the coastline and manage coastal erosion in selected sites along Tonga’s coastline / Credit: Asian Development Bank via Flickr.  

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