Pulitzer Center Defending Rainforests
In many parts of the world, journalists who report acts of environmental destruction are risking their lives. According to Global Witness, 212 environmentalists were murdered worldwide in 2019 — the deadliest year so far. These crimes frequently target Indigenous reporters. The criminals are rarely punished.
Tropical forests are one of the major battlegrounds, which prompted The Pulitzer Center to create the Rainforest Journalism Fund (RJF), a five-year, $5.5 million initiative focused on raising public awareness of the urgent environmental issues facing the world’s tropical forests. Launched in 2018, RJF hopes to raise awareness of the urgent issues facing the world’s tropical rainforests. It is building local capacity for quality, independent journalism in the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia—three hotspots for deforestation and loss of biodiversity.
“The work of local journalists is extremely important for Indigenous communities,” said Kathrin Wessendorf, head of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). “Each Indigenous community has its own language, and only community reporters can report in that language,” she said. “They also know how best to approach the community to spread the message.”
The Rainforest Journalism Fund represents a major investment in international environmental and climate reporting.
with plans to support nearly 200 original reporting projects along with annual regional conferences designed to raise the level of reporting on global rainforest issues such as deforestation and climate change. During the course of the grant, the Fund will also provide hostile-environment and first-aid training to 75 journalists operating in rainforest regions. As part of its mission for building capacity and momentum for environmental journalism around the world, the Rainforest Journalism Fund hosts a variety of events and houses a diversity of resources accessible to the public for free. RJF is supported by a grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment through the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).
“Forest loss is often driven by hidden, illegal activities and executed with impunity,” said Ola Elvestuen, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment.
“Global supply chains often provide the cash flows behind these activities. To counter the detrimental ongoing deforestation we need more transparency and we need quality journalism. “I am thankful that Pulitzer Center, a renowned institution with a long track record of supporting state-of-the-art journalism on under-covered issues, will have full editorial control over funds and allocations, supported by advisory committees consisting of distinguished journalists.”
The Pulitzer Center invites proposals for projects that focus on the tropical forests’ role in the overall climate equation and weather patterns, deforestation drivers, and solutions to halt deforestation. The Rainforest Journalism Fund will support nearly 200 original reporting projects over the five-year duration of the Fund, along with annual regional conferences designed to raise the level of reporting on global tropical rainforest.
The Pulitzer Center funds costs associated with reporting projects on tropical rainforests. Grants range from $2,500 to $7,500, which are made to local journalists based in the tropical rainforest region. In addition, the Pulitzer Center makes grants to journalists reporting for major American and European news outlets on tropical rainforests in any part of the world. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
“No issue is as important to our future as climate change. Understanding the role of rainforests is absolutely key to solving the challenges we face,” said Jon Sawyer, executive director of the Pulitzer Center. “We are grateful for this opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading environmental journalists.”
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is an innovative award-winning non-profit journalism organization dedicated to supporting in-depth engagement with under-reported global issues. We sponsor quality international reporting across all media platforms and a unique program of outreach and education to schools and universities.
The Norwegian government supports global efforts to reduce destruction of tropical forests. It aims to halt greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) leads these efforts from the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment.
“Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” said Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo, director of NICFI. “There is no stronger sunshine than professional journalism.”
Advocates can find additional support at The Terra Viva Grants Directory–an information service about international grant funding for agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources in the developing world. https://terravivagrants.org/