In 2022, we supported 55+ Caribbean climate journalists

I was one of the first Climate Tracker fellows, way back in 2015.

Since then, I have been involved with Climate Tracker’s work around the world, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that it all came full circle, and we established our first programme exclusively for journalists across the Caribbean. And with that, it felt like I was finally able to scratch an  itch that just refused to go away. 

Ever since I joined the Climate Tracker team, I have dreamed of building a community of Caribbean climate journalists focused on telling our stories and investigating what climate justice means to us.

Then, after years of unfulfilled hope, we had finally found a partner that saw the potential we too see in the region.

When that happened, I kid you not, I danced. Since then, our growth and impact across the region has been incredible.

This year we supported close to 60 journalists across the region through three separate climate journalism programmes. This allowed us to expand our reach and network considerably, and we have now mentored journalists from  Belize, Dominica, The Bahamas, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

These journalists have published groundbreaking stories across the region’s leading newspapers, radio and TV stations, including Television Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago’s CNC3. 

By the end of the year, we took the Caribbean global. I had the privilege of watching Ryan Bachoo work tirelessly as a Climate Tracker Fellow, reporting live from COP27 in Egypt. We also mentored 2 other Caribbean online fellows who are now reporting live from the Biodiversity negotiations in Montreal, Canada. 

We even expanded our team. Our Caribbean family now includes Johannes Damodar-Patak, from Suriname (Caribbean Programmes Officer) and Hipolito Novelo, from Belize (Caribbean Journalism Mentor). 

We’ve brought our experiences in journalism, climate policy, and environmental governance together and are committed to realising Climate Tracker’s mission to support, train and incentivise better climate journalism across the region in 2023.

Thanks to them, we’ve been able to achieve so much already this year, and I couldn’t be prouder to see what once was a dream of mine turn into reality this year. 

Here’s a little more details about what else we did in 2022 in the Caribbean. 

Love meeting up with fellows! Vishani Ragobeer (with the peace sign) visited Trinidad and Tobago, from Guyana and Rachael Espinet, Tyrell Gittens, and I took her for brunch, Trini style

Energy Transition Journalism Fellowship

Through this programme, we held a 5-week hands-on workshop training series that saw 30 journalists learn about the energy transition in the Caribbean. From this team, 9 fellows moved on to receive a publishing grant and mentoring support to publish an insightful energy transition story focused on their own country. 

As Tamoy Campbell, a budding lawyer and seasoned radio producer from Jamaica, shared, her favourite part of the fellowship was Meeting so many like minded persons from across the region as well as learning about the nuanced energy transition perspectives from the diverse and experienced Caribbean trainers. This was an interactive, fun, engaging, fellowship.”

Tyrell Gittens had lots of praise for the trainers as well.

“I must commend the Climate Tracker team for putting together the battery of heavyweight trainers for the fellowship. There was a diversity like I’ve never experienced before, with each speaker coming from a different field, with varying degrees of experience, and new perspectives to share, which I really appreciated.” 

Hear from one of our fellows who is fairly new to the journalism field, Rayann Gilbert

We really wanted this fellowship to be both exciting and informative, so the approach we took was one which encouraged our fellows to get to know each other on a personal level as well 

As Vishani Ragobeer put it, “this fellowship showed me that the conversation on the energy transition is much more nuanced than I thought. Hearing from those for and against and focusing on the best outcomes for developing nations was refreshing.”

Christianne Zakour, had this to say about her time as a fellow, “I feel happy to be part of helping pioneer the Climate Tracker work in the region.”

Caribbean Citizen Climate Journalism Fellowship

Leveraging civic participation to produce engaging climate change stories, we gained the support of The Cropper Foundation to carry out our first ever Caribbean Citizen Climate Journalism Fellowship and  trained 10 citizen representatives, with various backgrounds – from conservation to digital marketing, engineering to graphic design – in the field of climate reporting.  

This fellowship is particularly dear to me because it incorporates the voices of communicators who are working directly with communities on the frontline of the climate crisis. 

We connected with Lorenso Kasmani, for instance, an operational weather forecaster at the Meteorological Services of Suriname, and Ryan Seemungal, a research assistant at the local Environmental Management Authority in Trinidad and Tobago.  

The fellowship started with an intense 4-week workshop where participants learned from four fantastic trainers, Ryan Assiu (Climate science in a Caribbean context), Kayla Young (Climate journalism, identifying climate stories, and understanding the keys to effective environmental journalism), Brendon James (The Caribbean energy sector, with emphasis on Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago), and Dionne Cush-Barnwell (the social and human elements of the climate crisis and the role of local communities in climate action). Each week, fellows also engaged in media analysis of top stories in the region.

For Priscilla Misiekaba-Kia, a native Dutch speaker from Suriname, she was most excited to both publish a climate story in English and to have published her first international story

“I am grateful to see one of my dreams come true😍🥳. It has been a few weeks of Zoom meetings 💻with lots of information on climate change and its impact on our planet🌏…My first international article is finally here with the support of Climate Tracker❤️📝,” she shared on social media. 

COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship

🍒 And a cherry to top off this amazing 2022 sundae! 

We had our biggest Caribbean representation at COP, ever! Kelesha Williams (Jamaica) and Tyrell Gittens (Trinidad and Tobago) were part of our team of 12 journalists from around the world reporting virtually on the climate summit and Ryan Bachoo (Trinidad and Tobago) joined our in-person reporting team of 10 in Egypt. 

From an original applicant pool of over 900 applications, they rose to the top and produced fantastic coverage before, during, and after COP27. 

These inspiring young environmental journalists engaged in an intensive 3 week pre-COP training and then hit the ground running with some incredible reporting across Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda. 

Don’t miss Ryan’s post-COP special report. 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship

In partnership with Open Society Foundations, we are currently carrying out a 6-month climate justice programme, the first step in a larger process where we plan to roll out a Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Hub, to inspire, incentivise, and inform aspiring and seasoned journalists to report on this critical issue. 

As its core, climate justice recognises the disproportionate impacts of climate change on developing countries, low-income communities, and communities of colour around the world. This cohort of 15 journalists is representative of the Caribbean region and together they will be part of the foundation of this project. 

With the support of our  CT team, our climate justice fellows have been publishing climate stories in their local media, covering a wide range of angles.

Quoting Carlos’ tweet after hearing he won this fellowship, “yahhhhh baby we tryna get some climate justice for systematically impoverished and minoritized communities as the world gets too hot to live in like we used to over here.”

Oh and did I mention that one of our climate justice fellows just got accepted as a Oxford Climate Journalism Network fellow? Congrats to Jason Pinas, from Suriname. 

Looking ahead to 2023

Like all dreams that become reality, it hasn’t all gone perfectly. Throughout the year we’ve gone through numerous growing pains, and are honestly still finding our way in the region’s diverse media ecosystem.

But we’ve learned an incredible amount this year, and I’m confident that we’ll be better for it as we continue to expand into 2023.

I also want to thank our partners. 

Our partners at the Open Society Foundations were the first to believe in our vision of supporting climate journalists across the region, and I can’t thank them enough for the support and mentorship ever since. The Cropper Foundation, the European Climate Foundation, and the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute have also enabled us to grow and experiment with incredible programmes in the region this year, and we all really appreciate their support. 

But we’ve only just begun our journey.

We have lots of plans for the year ahead, and I hope you’ll continue to trust, connect and support us as we aim to build on the growth we’ve seen so far. 

As we say in Trinidad and Tobago, “Doh beat up,”…onward and upward. 

Dizzanne Billy
Dizzanne is the Caribbean Regional Director at Climate Tracker, a freelance writer, and an all-around storyteller. With a special place in her heart for the beach, cats, and Coldplay, she's experienced in journalism, communications, marketing, and finding the perfect song to suit any situation.
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