About the competition

The Earth Journalism Awards honour those in the media (professional journalists and citizen journalists/bloggers) who use their communication skills and influence to promote awareness of and provide new insight into climate change issues - whether it be in their region or in relation to certain key themes - through the production of powerful and eye-opening news and current affairs reports. Seven regional awards will be given out, along with seven thematic awards, all of which are described below. In addition, the winning stories will be posted on the Internet so that the public can vote on the best story of all, which will then be deemed the winner of a special Global Public Award.

Environmental print, radio, TV and online journalists, photojournalists and bloggers (and creative youth for the MTV Positive Change Award) from over 100 countries have participated in the awards competition*.   The competition is now closed and our teams of juries from all over the world are now beginning to work on finding the winning applications.  The 14 winners will then be identified and invited to collect their prize on December 14 in Copenhagen.

Participants have submitted one application within their choice of the following thematic awards:

The Climate Change and Energy Award will be given to the best story on issues connecting climate change and energy. The burning of fossil fuels is a major source of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, and the winning story may be one that provides new information or an insightful explanation of these linkages, but stories covering many other relevant energy-related topics are also eligible for this prize, including those that focus on:

  1. The use of renewable, alternative and/or carbon-neutral energy sources, or greater energy efficiency;
  2. The quest for sustainable energy supplies and/or policies;
  3. The development of energy efficient, low-carbon or carbon-neutral appliances, transport, transportation systems, buildings, communities, cities, etc;
  4. The trading of emission credits or the financing of low-carbon or carbon-neutral energy systems.
  5. Opportunities - economic and other - that are emerging from policies and investments in support of a low carbon economy.

The Climate Change Adaptation Award will be given to the best story on efforts to adapt to climate change. The focus of the story can be on any scale, from the personal level to communities, cities, countries, regions or even globally; the focus could be urban or rural or a combination thereof. The story may be about macro-level issues such as the relationship between climate change and development, the pathways to  sustainable adaptation policies or enabling environments, or about micro-level practical steps that people, communities and cities can take to adjust to the impacts of climate change. There will be particular attention paid to coverage of how the most vulnerable and communities can adjust to climate change, but the winning story need not focus exclusively on this.

The Climate Change and Forests Award will be given to the best story on issues connecting climate change and forests, and the key role that protecting tropical forests can play in tackling global warming.  Particular attention will be paid to coverage of how greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and degradation can be reduced, but the winning story does not have to about a formal REDD program. The winning story could, for instance, be about the broader relationship between climate change and forest management, or a specific forestry-related project.

As with most of the Earth Journalism Awards, stories that account for the views of different stakeholders will be viewed favourably. So, for instance, a story on a REDD project should ideally examine its impact on local communities as well as on climate change. This award is generally envisaged as being focused on the role of forests in mitigating climate change and promoting sustainable development. This could also include the role of tropical peat swamp forests . Stories on the impacts of climate change on forests and forest communities are also eligible for consideration, although stories on the impact on forest ecosystems are generally more suited for submission to the separate Climate Change and Nature Award.

The Climate Change and Nature Award will be given out to the best story that focuses on the relationship between climate change and the natural world. Eligible stories include those that report on the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, on the oceans, on biodiversity and on specific species. Stories that focus on the science of how climate change interacts with natural systems, for instance to create positive and negative feedback loops, are also eligible. Please note that whereas stories focusing on the impact of forest ecosystems are suitable for submission for this award, stories that focus instead on forest management, in particular on REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) and on forestry projects that mitigate climate change, should be submitted for the separate prize on Climate Change and Forests.

The Climate Change Negotiations Awards will be given out to the best stories focusing on the diplomacy of climate change. Coverage of international treaty negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will culminate in the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (December 7-18 2009) are the focus of these awards.  Also considered eligible are stories about any aspect of climate change diplomacy - including analysis of issues such as negotiations around greenhouse gas emission reductions, carbon trading agreements, international financial arrangements, agreements on adaptation assistance and reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). Coverage of the international relations of climate change will be considered eligible, even if not specifically focused on UNFCCC talks.

The Human Voices Award will be given to the best representation of the human and social dimensions of climate change. Winning work will highlight the perspectives of those communities most exposed to the current or future impacts of climate change. Considered eligible within this category are stories that place these impacts with a human rights context.  The winning story may represent personal or local viewpoints about the importance or impact of climate change. The applicant need not be a professional journalist, but may instead be a citizen journalist.

Applicants for the MTV Positive Change Award must be born between December 31 1981 and January 1 1991, but there is no professional requirement to apply for this award. The winner could be a journalist, a student or simply a concerned citizen. The winning submission should be in any format or in a mix of formats (e.g. video, audio, photography, script, music etc) and should communicate in an imaginative, arresting and compelling way a sense of what we have achieved or can achieve to improve our immediate environment or the global environment, when we put our minds to it. Creativity will be especially prized during the consideration of this award. 

Applicants have been able to submit their report to one of the thematic awards described above, but were not obliged to if they only wanted to be considered for a regional award. With the exception of applications for the MTV Positive Change Award, all submitted applications will be considered (if eligible) for a regional award.

Regional awards will be given out to the best climate change stories in each of the following seven regions: 1) Sub-Saharan Africa; 2) the Middle East and North Africa; 3) South Asia; 4) East Asia and the Pacific; 5) Eurasia; 6) Latin America and the Caribbean; 7) North America, the EC, Australia and New Zealand.

To be considered for the regional awards, the applicant must be a citizen of a country within the region for which an award is being considered. Special attention will be given to applications breaking new grounds and bearing particular relevance to current climate change issues in their region. Reach and impact, the power of the piece, its accuracy, the way it translates complex issues for local audiences, its balance and its focus on solutions will all be key criteria for selection.

The Earth Journalism Awards winners will be invited to Copenhagen, where they will have the opportunity to cover the conference negotiations. The Earth Journalism Awards will be distributed at high-profile ceremony on December 7 2009.


* participants must be over 18 years of age/of legal age in their country of residence; fluent English is a pre-requisite; application forms must be completed in English; applicants may submit their report in its original language, provided that they include an English translation; applicants submitting more than one application are automatically disqualified; applicants may submit a series of reports, but will be asked to select one report to represent the entire series; only applications that are submitted through the Earth Journalism Awards website will be considered eligible.