Your Best Environmental Stories of 2023: Selections from EJN’s Annual Crowd-Sourced Reading List

Group of men working while a crane holds a piece of pipeline.
Your Best Environmental Stories of 2023: Selections from EJN’s Annual Crowd-Sourced Reading List

As part of our customary year-end social media campaign, we asked EJN network members and environmental journalists beyond our network to share the story they were most proud to have produced in 2023.   

We received more than 150 entries at the end of last year, with journalists responding from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Europe. Here’s just a few for you to peruse:  

  • Sharmin Rima in Bangladesh published this piece in CVoice24 on how climate financing is being funneled into projects in low-risk areas, rather than being used to build resilience in the most vulnerable districts. She wrote, “This report is particularly important to me as it sheds light on the unfair distribution of climate funds.” 
  • Brazilian journalists Allan de Abreu and Luiz Fernando Toledo submitted their story from Revista Piauí: “This story proves the link between land grabbing and cocaine trade in Brazil and its connection to organized crime," they wrote.  
  • Colombia is home to 50% of the world’s páramos, a unique ecosystem in South America, and the second highest number of amphibian species. Yet, as reported by a group of journalists in Colombia, “in 200 years of study, only eight scientific papers have measured the abundance of amphibians in the páramo ecosystem.” María Camila Botero Castro and Jacobo Patiño Giraldo co-wrote the piece, highlighting that data is key to successful conservation efforts. 
  • In the United States, journalists Alex Ip and KC Cheng shared their story about the impacts of a coastal development project in India. “The Xylom was the first North American outlet to cover the impacts the Mumbai Coastal Road, a $2.1 billion megahighway, had on Indigenous fishermen,” Ip wrote. 
  • Journalists Isabel Alarcón from Ecuador and Daniela Quintero from Colombia partnered on a grant from EJN’s Conservando Juntos project to investigate the impacts of environmental degradation and development on biodiversity in the Amazon: “We chose the large migratory catfish to demonstrate how mining, oil extraction, hydroelectric dams and deforestation are directly affecting migratory fish and the communities that depend on these species for survival,” they wrote. 
  • From Egypt, journalist Hany Samih submitted a piece on agriculture and water scarcity: “[The story] expresses the current situation that Egyptians working in the field of agriculture are experiencing inside Jordan, amid a complete absence of those responsible for preserving their rights.”  
  • Journalist Lyse Mauvais, reporting from Iraq and Syria, shared her piece on the health and environmental impacts of rising antimicrobial resistance in the region. “To make the story engaging and understandable to a broad audience, I had to weave together data drawn from scientific research, interviews with scientists and testimonies from the ground,” she wrote. 
  • EJN grantee and journalist Cece Siago in Kenya submitted her story on community efforts to conserve seagrass: “It shows how communities are at the center of conservation,” she said. “I got to show how this little-known seagrass plays a big role in tackling the climate crisis.” 
  • Li Wei Soon, a journalist in Malaysia, submitted a story on conservation efforts in the country’s Central Forest Spine region. “This trip turned out to be an eye-opener for me, as it showcased how eco-tourism can significantly contribute to the conservation and preservation of biodiversity,” she wrote. 
  • From Mexico, journalist Adam David Williams shared his piece on worsening sea level rise and climate migration: “This story documents the first-ever recorded case of a town being overtaken by rising sea levels in the country’s history,” he wrote. 
  • Alfred Ajayi in Nigeria submitted an investigation into the failure of government officials to provide aid to communities affected by flooding: “My interactions with victims revealed that they struggled through the recovery period largely on their own,” he wrote.  
  • In the Philippines, journalist Stanley Buenafe Gajete shared his story about declining interest in forestry training, even as threats grow against environmental defenders. “[The story] is important because as a citizen of this developing country, how can we solve the issue of climate change if the number of people conserving our natural resources are not enough?” he wrote. 
  • Katie Biggar in South Africa submitted a piece on a new water filtration technology, artificial mussels, being used to improve water quality. “This story came about as a result of my first EJN grant but it touches on aspects very important to me,” she wrote. “Mussels as a simple and uncharismatic shellfish, prove to be increasingly important in technology, science and ecosystem health.” 
  • In Sri Lanka, journalist Dinesh Balasri submitted a myth-busting piece about the importance of Indigenous knowledge in developing climate solutions. “Recognizing the wisdom of indigenous communities not only enriches our understanding of the environment but also offers practical solutions for mitigating climate change,” Balasri said. 
  • In the United States, journalist Holly Edgell shared her piece on the emerging “extreme heat belt" in the country's Midwest region and the lack of action from local governments. “This story shows that arguably the richest country in the world is not prepared with a climate adaptation policy," she wrote. “I wanted to show the connection between lack of national policy and disorganization at the local level.” 
  • Sethekele Ncube in Zimbabwe submitted her story on how projects designed to combat climate change in the country are having unintended negative impacts on Indigenous communities. “I wanted to highlight how big companies, governments, and international groups can make policies that kick out these communities,” Ncube wrote. 
Small frog sitting on a plant
Pristimantis bogotensis, also known as the Bogota robber frog endemic to Colombia, as seen in the story reported by María Camila Botero Castro and Jacobo Patiño Giraldo / Credit: Liliana Saboyá-Acosta. 

Be sure to check out these other entries, as well:  

  • From Stephan Uttom Rozario in Bangladesh, a spotlight on the struggle for freshwater amid rising salinity and loss of agricultural land.  
  • From Michael Sarpong Mfum in Ghana, a story of how subsistence farmers managed to build resilience against climate change and water scarcity. 
  • From Eduardo Franco Berton in Bolivia, a deep-dive into the traditional Andean healers who use an endangered lizard in their medicines and the scientists calling for its conservation.  
  • From Keletso Thobega in Botswana, a story about how poaching is hurting the country’s efforts to develop a wildlife economy.   
  • From Vandana K in India, a solutions-focused piece highlighting how solar energy could provide a path forward for improved healthcare in the country. 
  • From Aldem Bourscheit in Brazil and Aldo Benítez in Paraguay, a cross-border investigation into the extent of illegal pesticide trafficking in the region.   
  • From Smita Adhikari in Nepal, an investigation into the political corruption surrounding the protection of Nepal’s Pokhara lakes. 
  • From Jonas Kiriko in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a look into how seized wildlife parts are stored and managed improperly, leaving them vulnerable to future thefts. 
  • From Sanskriti Talwar in India, a story highlighting agricultural issues in Punjab, where increasingly unpredictable weather has placed many farmers in debt.  
  • From Michele Calamaio in Italy, an exploration into how undersea cables that carry power and data across the Mediterranean may pose risks for the environment and fisheries in the region. 
  • From Jackson Okata in Kenya, a story on the effects of air pollution on the health of communities living in informal settlements in Nairobi.  
  • From Aigerim Konurbaeva in Kyrgyzstan, a look into Bishkek’s drinking water crisis, exacerbated by ineffective management and climate change.  
  • From Yamin Oo in Myanmar, a documentary on the country’s biodiversity and climate crisis amid military rule.  
  • From Shahzad Naveed in Pakistan, a look into the impacts of floods on communities in the country’s Gilgit-Baltistan region and the difficulties in accessing government aid after disasters. 
  • From Maximiliano Manzoni in Paraguay, an investigation into how the so-called “largest payment in environmental services” in the country was actually a front for corruption.   
  • From Rukaia Alabadi in Syria, a piece highlighting the impacts of climate change and high temperatures on reproductive health and pregnancies in the country. 
  • From Aïda Delpuech and Arianna Poletti in Tunisia, a story on how monoculture farming has drained historic aquifers – and how communities in the region are fighting back.  
  • From Zadock Amanyisa in Uganda, a look into waste management in the Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality, located right next to a critically important wetland ecosystem. 
  • From Allison Salerno in the United States, an exploration of the fine line between the need to protect vulnerable ecosystems and the need for accessible experiences in nature. 

We look forward to supporting — and reading, viewing or listening to — more compelling environmental stories in 2024! 

Two women having a conversation while sitting at a garbage dumpsite.
A woman at the Dandora dumpsite takes a break from waste picking to buy a snack from a hawker / Credit: James Wakibia.

Banner image: Well drilling in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as seen in Aigerim Konurbaeva’s story / Credit: Central Asian Bureau for Analytical Reporting.  

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