Climate Journalism Thrives in Latin America

“Latin America is perhaps the best example of economic growth together with carbon emissions reduction,” says Christiana Figueres, former executive-secretary of the UN´s Climate Change Convention, summarizing the region’s leadership in attempting to halt global warming. Figueres made her point to hundreds of journalists during an EJN webinar organized in partnership with Latin Clima earlier this year.

Moments like this, when local reporters can gain access to important sources or participate in opportunities that enhance their climate coverage skills, are now more common in countries like Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. Since the beginning of 2015, EJN has become a major supporter of training and editorial activities focused on climate change in Latin America.

As part of EJN´s Human Dimensions of Climate Change, a program funded by the Oak Foundation, six organizational grants (and numerous story grants) were given to organizations in the region, totaling roughly USD 100,000 invested.

Latin Clima, for example, is an initiative led by Costa Rica’s Katiana Murillo, a member of the EJN Council of Partners. It has become a hub for climate journalists and scientists in the region through organizing webinars and a course on communicating climate change adaptation, and by producing the first Latin American radio program dedicated to climate change.

Nearly one year ago, as part of her EJN Climate Mentorship Program, Katiana partnered with La Ruta del Clima and Radio U to create the Gaia program, which was launched in Costa Rica to talk about crucial climate change topics. Thanks to the interest of other organizations in different countries, the first Latin America edition was prepared with correspondents from countries such as Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.

In Argentina, online climate journalism training has become a magnet for thousands of journalists. Claves 21, an independent environmental journalism magazine, is already working on the second edition of its course on “Climate Change Communications”. So far, 1,500 professionals and students from 30 different countries have enrolled. Supported by EJN, each eight-week course includes issues relating to the science of climate change as well as digital tools to produce engaging stories.

In Peru, ConexiónCOP is launching stories about adaptation to climate change in seven Peruvian regions. Reporters who live in provinces travel to small communities where residents have managed to face new environmental scenarios using ancient techniques, government support and/or assistance from the private sector. The program also included a two-day local workshop training journalists in climate change, adaptation, and how to cover these issues.

EJN and its partners in Latin America have launched a survey to better understand the gaps that remain to improve the quality and quantity of climate journalism in these countries. If you are a Latin American journalist, please fill out the survey.

Focus on students in Colombia and Brazil

Another important aspect of the work in Latin America is to invest in the new generation of journalists. In Colombia and Brazil, EJN’s partners and mentors are focusing on increasing the number of journalism students with expertise in communicating climate change. Maria Clara Valencia, who teaches at the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar in Cartagena de Indias, has created the Yuca Pelá group and eletronic magazine, which has become a venue for her pupils to publish their first stories.

In Brazil, Felipe Lobo has launched, a platform that is running story contests for students from different universities in the country. During its first phase, the project chose 11 articles to be published. Through voting on Facebook, the two best stories were selected, for which the authors received awards. Felipe plans to expand the platform by touring colleges in Brazil and creating a network of journalism students dedicated to covering climate change.