Indigenous Environmental Reporting

Maasai community displaying beads and other handicraft
Indigenous Environmental Reporting

Globally, Indigenous Peoples make up less than 5% of the total human population – about 370 million people – yet they manage or call home more than a quarter of the world’s land area. Those regions also support 80% of the planet’s global biodiversity. 

Indigenous perspectives are often missing from global conversations about biodiversity, climate change and other critical environmental issues. Although their traditional land-use practices often focus on sustainability and conservation, their land rights, sovereignty and safety are often under threat by governments and corporations seeking to exploit the environment. And while their environmental footprint is small, they often bear the fallout of environmental degradation, with little access to services, financial resources or platforms that help boost their visibility and allow for information sharing. 

Indigenous Peoples also face barriers in becoming journalists as a result of these challenges, although they are often the most equipped to tell the stories of Indigenous communities living and working on the front lines of climate and environmental change.  

In 2021, with funding from Nia Tero, EJN provided story grants to Indigenous journalists to report on environmental degradation and amplify Indigenous-led strategies for adaptation and resilience.The project also aims to help Indigenous journalists build networks and amplify the voices of Indigenous leaders and other community members. 

In 2022, this project was refunded by Nia Tero and received additional funding from Svenska Postkodstiftelsen (the Swedish Postcode Foundation), to highlight the role of Indigenous peoples as defenders of most of the world’s remaining biodiversity.

One of the main goals of the second phase of the project was to build the capacity of Indigenous journalists and communicators to report on environmental issues such as climate justice, biodiversity, sustainable ecosystem management and the rights and well-being of Indigenous Peoples.  

Selected Indigenous journalists were provided resources—including mentorship, editorial support and story grants—to share important stories and information with those who need it most. Journalists learned from Indigenous media trainers and other expert speakers at our webinars. An in-person training workshop enabled Indigenous reporters to develop their skills and meet with Indigenous communities in Nairobi, Kenya. EJN, in collaboration with Agenda Propia produced a self-paced online course on Indigenous journalism (available in English and Spanish) to provide Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists with a deeper understanding of the threats facing Indigenous peoples globally, and of Indigenous world views and cultural perspectives that center land and biodiversity stewardship.

In 2024, with renewed support from Nia Tero, EJN has launched a comprehensive training program, in which selected Indigenous journalists will:

  • Be awarded story grants to investigate and produce stories about environmental issues, with support from an Indigenous journalist mentor.
  • Participate in a synchronous, discussion-based version of EJN's recently developed online course on Indigenous journalism.
  • Join a one-day virtual workshop to deepen their storytelling skills and engage with subject-matter experts from around the world.

In the longer term, we hope this support will be an opportunity for Indigenous journalists to deepen their coverage of how resource exploitation, environmental degradation and climate impacts affect their communities. Their stories will better inform the public, including policymakers, about Indigenous-led solutions to these interlinked crises, and promote greater accountability and support for inclusive sustainable development.  

Banner image: The Maasai Community at the Il Ngwesi Community Conservancy make and sell beads to complement income from wildlife tourism. Seen here is Mercy Majore 23, who uses proceeds from her sales to pay for technical vocational training / Credit: Hillary Ndereva. 

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