Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

All fired up: The journalists addressing the climate emergency with words and actions


As world leaders gather for COP26, it is a pertinent time to showcase the work of young journalists who put the environment at the heart of the stories they tell. The fifteen give voice to communities that have played little role in raising the world's temperature but who have been hardest hit by the climate emergency.

From Colombia and Cuba to Egypt, India and Albania, the shortlisted stories were chosen from more than 300 environmental stories entered for the annual Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, as part of a special, one-off prize to mark the make-or-break UN climate summit in Glasgow.

The journalists are from a generation mobilised to generate urgent change and avoid inheriting a planet in peril. They have transformed complex ecological issues into compelling storytelling that is both local and relatable and frequently, solvable. They have demonstrated that the crisis is not abstract and a distant threat, but one that is personal and affects everyone directly, although not always equally.

Their stories are about ordinary people who are grappling with the crisis in deeply personal ways, and are doing something about it, such as Sonia S nchez, an environmental activist from El Salvador, fighting to protect her small town from the irreparable harm of a large housing construction project.

Her story portrays the battle of small versus giants, the consequences that these battles can have, but also the legacy and importance of them, says 25-year-old reporter, Carmen Valeria Escobar.

These journalists have transformed complex ecological issues into compelling storytelling.

There's also a shared sense of what needs to change from those born into the reality of the climate emergency. Cuban journalist Ismario Rodr guez P rez documents the work of a group of environmental campaigners, including teenager Jes s Linares, who faces intimidation and threats as he organises garbage collections, bike rallies and environmental education on social networks to mobilise all generations to play their part to save the planet.

My story is another step to make visible the silent struggle of many to keep alive the cause for climate justice in a small and underdeveloped country like Cuba, says Ismario.

Part of the challenge of getting people engaged with the climate crisis is making it personal - provoking an audience to realise how it may impact them directly. But Venezuelan journalist, Helena Carpio, says that the people most vulnerable to global warming are often the least aware. Most people in our region don't even know what climate change is, she says. In the case of Venezuela, we have a complex humanitarian emergency, people are malnourished. So why is the environment important?

Helena, whose pioneering data-driven piece on wildfires and the irreversible effects of climate change in the Amazon region, describes with disbelief the speed at which glaciers are receding in her country: Venezuela could be the first country to lose all of its glaciers. We lost four out of five glaciers in less than a century, she says. Our natural and cultural heritage - yours, because it belongs to the world - is disappearing with very few witnesses.

Image taken from Juan Jos Relmucaos piece, Things we find in fire (credit Carlos Salazar)

There's a broad range of approaches to the environment from the shortlist. Some present cold, hard facts, such as Albanian freelance writer G zim Hilaj who reports on the construction of hydropower plants on the Luma River that's leading to an ecologically dead river and Tatiana Pardo Ibarra who exposes how beef sold in Colombian supermarkets is fuelling illegal deforestation in protected Amazon forests.

Others consider climate mitigation, the possibilities inherent in natural resources or remind us that the crisis intersects with existing social inequalities, for example Nigeria's Damilola Ayeni, who uncovers the threats and dangers to the survival of indigenous communities in the Niger Delta. Their water, food and air are poisoned and they are dying, he says plainly.

For Egyptian water journalist Mohammed El Said, success in his reporting depends on unpicking difficult scientific studies and reporting on solutions. His investigation looks at the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile which threatens to upset a millennia-old ecological balance in Egypt: What makes this story significant is that it offers solutions based on science, he says. These include planting drought-tolerant crops, particularly rice, building desalination plants for the seawater and harvesting water from desert air.

Groundwater sustainability is an important topic and one of which Monika Mondal has a deep understanding. The Indian journalist, who is currently reporting from COP26, collected water samples in the state of Uttar Pradesh for her story- both from households and from storm drains where a sugar mill dumped its waste water - and ran lab tests to report on the quality. The findings were alarming and now a case has been filed with India's environmental court.

These are just a few of the stories plucked from an impressive shortlist where the power of community action at a local level has been highlighted, the human and ecological impact revealed, the possibilities of a sustainable future considered and the inaction and complacency of authorities pointed to.

From Devyani Nighoskars piece, The forest builders of Indias Shivaliks

Turning down the heat With the current spotlight on the two-week long climate summit - and a palpable sense that the public, politicians and policymakers are collectively realising just how far things have to change, and how urgently - it is vital to maintain that energy.

Powerful storytelling can help keep that momentum and remind world leaders that the world is not only watching but
See more stories from thompsonfoundation

More from Thomson


Finding their voice - the women bringing parity to Pakistan's media

To increase women's participation; these four words, written down in four seconds, in a proposal can take months, if not years to achieve. Especially, wh...


Rwanda: developing a course for investigative journalists in Rwanda.

When I started out as an investigative journalist, there were few practising journalists in Kenya to learn from or manuals that I could read to sharpen my skill...


Journalift: Access all languages

Journalists in the Western Balkans have been given access to free resources and training in their own languages thanks to a unique platform launched by Thomson ...


Ukraine: collaboration in time of war

One million refugees have been welcomed into Germany since the Russian invasion who aside from being far from home have lost contact with their community and in...


Building the Resilience and Relevance of independent media

Millions of people in Tajikistan have read, watched and listened to an extraordinary social media campaign which has clearly shown the population's hunger f...


Valley Voices: Accessing women s voices

It's August in Pakistan and much of the country is underwater. Catastrophic flooding has killed hundreds, left millions homeless and destroyed infrastructur...


She Leads Media: Bettina Fellowship scales up at Africa Media Festival

A strong, fearless and effective media, where talent is recognised and rewarded regardless of gender. That's the goal of She Leads Media: Bettina Fellowshi...


Bad news for false news: how we re countering misinformation in Sudan

Our pioneering WhatsApp course is leading the way in training journalists and citizens to spot misinformation and disinformation in Sudan - a country targeted b...


Valley Voices: Empowering women in rural Pakistan

The finale of the third Valley Voices project saw women journalists and writers gain confidence in writing about some of the more controversial topics facing wo...


Connect 6: Thomson Foundation launches mentor programme

Take six of the brightest young journalists and connect them to six of the best in the industry and you have the recipe for Connect 6', a new, world-class ...


Unique new course on the art of writing news analysis

You're a journalist and news breaks that Pele, arguably the greatest footballer the world has ever known, has died. A colleague in your newsroom is assigned...


A mobile masterclass for South African award winners

Two former winners of the Vodacom Young Journalist of the Year award in South Africa have finally been treated to their prize of an all-expenses paid trip to Lo...


Why female journalists in Pakistan don t like coffee

Sabin Agha is a Pakistan-based documentary filmmaker, multimedia journalist and a blogger. She has been teaching women journalists at Tribal News Network (TNN)...


Yashraj Sharma, Young Journalist Award 2022 Winner

Yashraj Sharma is the interim editor of the online news portal of The Kashmir Walla. He is the winner of the Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award 202...


Yashraj Sharma, Young Journalist Award 2022 Finalist

Yashraj Sharma is the interim editor of the online news portal of The Kashmir Walla. He is a finalist in Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award 2022. ...


Jyoti Yadav, Young Journalist Award 2022 Finalist

Jyoti Yadav is a journalist from New Delhi, working for India's fastest growing news website The Print. She is a finalist in Thomson Foundation's Young ...


Carlos Ral Kestler, Young Journalist Award 2022 Finalist

Carlos Ra l Kestler is a 23-year-old journalist from Guatemala. He is a finalist in Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award 2022. Every time a tyre t...


Empowered - a year on from winning the Young Journalist Award

One year ago, I woke up and was surprised to find out the great news that I was selected as the winner of Thomson Foundations Young Journalist Award 2021. This ...


How to write news stories better

Ewen Macaskill introduces the second in his series of news writing courses for the Thomson Foundation - Advanced Writing: The art of storytelling Storytelling...


New safety course for Ukrainian journalists

During a time of war, it's essential that journalists are prepared for any eventuality, however unlikely. With that in mind, Thomson Foundation has respon...


Revealing the 2022 Young Journalist Award finalists

It has been tough three weeks for the panel of judges at the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA) who had the unenviable task of selecting three finalists for the...


Environmental journalism courses now available in Arabic

Three landmark environmental training courses devised by the Thomson Foundation have been translated into Arabic as part of a major push to guide and inform loc...


Young Journalist Award shortlist revealed

A remarkable number of entries arrived from all over the world for this years Young Journalist Award - Cameroon to Colombia, Ukraine to Uganda and Egypt to Ecua...


Why Pakistan needs more women leaders

This article is written by Hudaibia Iftikhar, a blogger working in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan. Despite being highly educated, she holds a ...


Western Balkans footprints: Innovation in media training makes an impact

Running a media organisation in the Western Balkans (WB) is far from easy. A region beset by instability, corruption with challenges to media freedom which prov...


WhatsApp misinformation course goes viral

A digital learning course on mis and disinformation delivered via the messaging platform WhatsApp has gone viral in Sudan. The first seven days after publicat...


Why the environment crisis doesn t make news in Serbia

Dina or evi is a journalist with the Centre for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS). She has won a number of national and international awards for her w...


Fresh perspectives: Young Journalist Award 2022

Thomson Foundation is celebrating 60 years of promoting excellence in journalism and to mark the occasion, we're offering six rising stars the chance to con...


Finding Africa s new voice

Hello, can you hear me? The zoom screen springs to life and the responses quickly follow. Yes, we can. Good morning . The greetings come from Kenya, Nigeri...


A new chapter in a migration story

The crisis in Ukraine has again focused world attention on the plight of refugees and mass migration. It has also challenged journalists to report on the issue ...


Changing the way news and stories about Africa are told

The moment you see your byline next to a story is a magical moment for any journalist. It brings with it a sense of relief, pride and hope that you'll get n...


International success for Montenegrin mobile journalist

Success in our training programmes is measured in many ways but one of the most rewarding is reading or watching powerful stories produced by young journalists ...


Shifting the focus: Sudan on the edge of change

A pioneering band of creatives in Sudan are promoting social change through photography. The Thomson Media training for digital media entrepreneurs formed part ...


Telegram course: Reacting to a chemical attack

Chemical and biological weapons may be banned but that has not stopped them being used in recent conflicts and for journalists reporting on the war in Ukraine k...


A vote of confidence: Empowering women politicians in Gagauzia

The look of politics in Gagauzia, the small autonomous territory in southern Moldova, is decidedly male. Just two of the 35 members of local parliament are wome...


The Bettina Fund: Transforming women's careers

Eleven women who participated in the inaugural Bettina Fund - Women in Media Leadership programme say it will transform their careers as they have gained confid...


Investigating Moldova: Journalists pick up two awards

Stories on ecology and corruption, developed with Thomson Media support, are among the best investigations of the year. By Dima Stoianov, media support expert ...


Boosting media portrayals of minorities in the Western Balkans

Media in minority languages are relatively well developed, but one segment is significantly neglected in the six countries of the Western Balkans - Albania, Bos...


The definitive guide to podcasting has arrived

Award-winning podcasters and journalists from the UK, India, Kenya, Australia and South Africa have joined forces to create what's believed to be the first ...


Podcasts: Why I love audio

The 7th of January 1991 was a big day for me. It was the day I started working as a radio journalist. As someone who writes for a living, I'm supposed to a...


Persistence pays off for the first ever Malaysian Young Journalist winner

PROFILE: Young Journalist Award 2021 winner It was Kai Hui Wong's persistence in her investigations which led her to reveal abuses of power that convin...


Doing the groundwork: Monika Mondal wins our environmental prize

PROFILE: Young Journalist Award 2021 (environment) winner It's hard to believe that Monika Mondal only started her journalism career last year at the hei...


Who are the Young Journalist Award 2021 finalists?

Three journalists - from India, and for the first time, Colombia and Malaysia - are the finalists for the 2021 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, in par...


We can change our migration narrative - election time is a good time to do it

By Eileen Truax Eileen is a journalist specialising in migration working with Thomson Media on Moving Voices - a project looking at cross border issues affectin...


All fired up: The journalists addressing the climate emergency with words and actions

As world leaders gather for COP26, it is a pertinent time to showcase the work o...


When diversity in newsrooms and newsleadership is not enough

In the latest in a series of personal reflections on womens role in the media, Luba Kassova, author of The Missing Perspectives of Women in News reflects on why...


Meet the new generation of journalists making a mark

It's one of those points in the annual media calendar that early-career journalists await on the edge of their seats - and the moment has arrived. We can ...


Women in media: Confronting the confidence gap

A confidence gap is a constant theme when discussing the lack of women in leadership positions in media. Why do women feel that they dont merit their success mo...


Circular economy: Bringing the intellectually ambitious concept to life

Chances are, most things that currently surround you have been produced following the principles of the linear economy. From the clothes that you wear to the ph...


Why we're all environmental journalists now

Journalists have a unique role to play in changing the narrative around the worlds environmental breakdown and becoming an essential part of the solution. Hear ...