During 2021, while new coronavirus variants and vaccine inequality shocked the world, climate change showed us some of its gravest impacts: locust plagues in Africa, deadly floods in Asia and Europe, and “megadrought” in South America, for example.
Climate journalists in developing countries play a key role in covering these climate impacts, since many of these stories often go unnoticed because of a lack of specialized coverage.
In 2021 Climate Tracker ran several programs supporting climate journalists from developing countries, through mentorship, financial and editorial support. This is a summary of how we supported climate journalists during the year.
Covid-19 forced a lot of programs in 2020 to transform and become virtual mentorships. One of the programs that emerged from this was our Media Mentorship Fellowship, which gathered two groups of young journalists during 2021.
Our first group was composed of 12 journalists from different countries, who covered underreported issues such as Palm Oil companies in Guatemala, Russian-Nigerian oil partnerships and indigenous people attacked in Thailand.
For our second part of the year, we supported a group of 6 young reporters’ from developing countries. They covered climate impacts in refugee camps, government investments in fossil fuels and women facing climate impacts.
Throughout the year, the program resulted in the production of 26 climate stories from all over the world. These stories shared our values of fiscalizing climate action, human rights and transparency in developing countries.
Our fellows also got the chance to experiment with different storytelling formats, such as newsletter contributions, podcast sessions and Instagram Live interviews. All of them also receive our specialized training in climate journalism and communications.
“The mentorship has given me the courage to do more climate and environment stories. To come up with story ideas. To put it in a way and structure that will.be attractive to readers.” – Cece Siago, one of our fellows from Kenya
Aatreyee Dhar, our fellow from India, said “I had an enriching experience learning cooperation and task distribution in collaborative projects, closing on an angle in ground reports and so on”.
Throughout the year, Climate Tracker opened calls for pitches from freelance reporters, members of our global network of climate writers. Through this initiative, we supported the publication of 15 in depth climate stories from developing countries, each one from a different writer.
Some of our publications even won awards in their respective countries, such as Shorai’s coverage of electricity cuts in Zimbabwe due to drought, as well as Saadeqa’s coverage of coral bleaching impacts in tourism in Pakistan.
“This helped me immensely with my projects with other international science outlets. Everyone was friendly and cooperative,” said Saadeqa Khan, who won the ICRC and CEJ-IBA Humanitarian Reporting Award for her story, one of the most prestigious in Pakistan.
Through this initiative, writers received special editorial mentorship from our team, as well as financial support to cover in-depth climate stories.
During 2021, we also ran our Solutions Reporting Fellowship, which we run in partnership with One Earth. Through this initiative, we supported 4 young reporters from developing countries, who produced 16 climate solutions stories this year.
Our team also gave mentorship and editorial assistance to this group, as well as training in solutions journalism with leading journalists around the world. Our fellows produced stories about regenerative agriculture, energy transition and conservation.
Through this initiative Marcela, one of our fellows from Brazil, covered indigenous conservation scientists from Brazil, while our fellow from Uganda, Miriam Watsemba, covered energy recycling in her country.
Climate Tracker’s biggest mentoring program was our coverage of the UN Climate Change negotiations (COP26). Through this initiative, we supported 21 virtual fellows —who covered the summit from a distance— and 8 in-person reporters who attended COP26.
All of our fellows received our specialized climate journalism training, as well as editorial mentorship and financial support from our team. In total, the group of young reporters produced 155 climate stories related to COP26. A whole new record!
Each fellow agreed to cover COP26 both for their national and regional news outlets, as well as for Climate Tracker’s own coverage.
“This fellowship really motivates me to think and write more about multiple aspects of climate change, many of which I’ve never thought of before, for example climate immigration and justice,” said Trang Do Thuy, one of our online fellows from Vietnam.
“It was a tremendous opportunity because I received a lot of training regarding climate negotiations and established new contacts with colleagues and sources from around the world. It allowed me to have a broader insight into climate issues and the relevance of telling regional and global stories,” added, on her part, Yanine Quiroz, an in-person fellow from Mexico.
The stories shared our values of bringing transparency and accountability to climate negotiations, as well as including the coverage of people from underrepresented countries. This was especially important during COP26, targeted as one of the less inclusive COPs of recent times.