Climate change has rapidly accelerated the rate of desertification and land degradation over the last century, with the African continent being one of the worst affected in the world. The pressures of intensive agriculture, deforestation and livestock production are driving land degradation resulting in biodiversity loss, food insecurity and forced migration, amongst other impacts. Mitigating these effects is of critical importance to billions of people across the planet, though long-term improvement cannot be achieved without also addressing anthropogenic climate change.
The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties are two of the most critical events in the international conversation on these issues. The agreements that come out of these negotiations will be critical for shaping a better future, but often receive minimal media attention in the countries that have the most to gain from their outcome.
To meet the need for better coverage of these two important conferences, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network is pleased to announce a virtual fellowship for journalists from African countries to remotely cover the UNCCD COP15, to be held from 9-20 May 2022 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and an in-person fellowship to the UNFCCC COP27, which will take place from 7-18 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
This project aims to improve both the quality and quantity of climate reporting in low- and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and help maximize the impact of media coverage in the leadup to COP15 and COP27, during the treaty negotiations and in their aftermath.
Since 2007, EJN has been bringing journalists to different climate and environmental treaty negotiations, supporting over 500 journalists, who have produced thousands of stories for their local communities. Journalists’ participation in these global forums is a vital way to monitor, report on and provide transparency for the actions of negotiators and other policymakers. Fellowships have demonstrated their effectiveness in allowing under-represented voices to be heard at the summits. In addition to providing localized coverage of the proceedings, journalists are able to ask pointed questions and even occasionally provide counsel to government representatives.
Fellowships will be awarded to at least 15 selected journalists from sub-Saharan Africa who would otherwise find it difficult to access these global gatherings. Fellows will be provided with training and editorial support; skilled and experienced trainers will facilitate connections to scientists, policymakers and environmental experts.
With EJN support, Fellows’ ability to report on these deliberations will be enhanced, and they will be better able to provide local audiences with an increased understanding of climate and environmental issues in their region, particularly land degradation and climate resilience. Stories produced and published by African media outlets will help raise awareness of the latest science and policy developments on climate and environment.
In addition, this project will:
- Strengthen a regional and global network of specialized climate change journalists who can interact and develop their learning.
- Develop the skills of existing and new regional leaders in climate journalism who can train local journalists in their home media markets.
This program is specifically unique as it will create a link from UNCCD to UNFCCC and the fellows involved in both will at least partly overlap, allowing participating journalists to fully explore the land use and climate nexus and cover different angles and issue areas shared between the two conferences.
This project is made possible with support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
Please visit the EJN website for further updates.
Banner image: A mother and daughter stand with their herd of goats in El Baraf, Somalia. Increasingly, desertification and intensifying competition for land is threatening traditional pastoralist practices across Africa / Credit: Tobin Jones (AMISOM) via Flickr.