Reporters from Latin America and Africa Honored at World Congress of Environmental Journalists

10/2/2001

Lage-H�rste, Germany - Winners of the "Biodiversity Reporting Award 2001," gathered in Germany to discuss coverage of environmental news, were honored today in an official ceremony held at the Art Kite Museum in Detmold.

Six journalists from Latin America and Africa were awarded commemorative plaques and had an opportunity to reflect about their environmental reporting practices. They agreed that they share common challenges and that the contest has raised their commitment to the profession.

"Winning the award has given me a great deal of confidence to continue reporting on what is a very difficult and poorly supported area," said Matt Falloon from Guyana's Stabroek News. "It is my duty to keep informing the public about environmental problems," added Alberto Ram�rez Espada, winner of the contest in Guatemala and a reporter at Prensa Libre.

The group is attending the Ninth World Congress of Environmental Journalists in Lage-Hoerste, Germany, an annual event organized by the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ). The theme of this year's conference is "Environmental Journalism and the Media in the E-Society." All six journalists received an expenses-paid trip to participate in the congress and a two-year membership to IFEJ as prizes for winning the contest.

"Meeting environmental journalists from other countries and sharing experiences with veteran reporters has been very enriching," said S�rgio Duran, grand prize winner in Brazil who works at Folha de S.Paulo.

The agenda of the congress included a debate about the role of journalists after the 1992 Rio Summit and a presentation on how to access environmental information and documentation in Europe. The meeting also featured a variety of field trips, which will culminate with a post-congress tour to recycling facilities and a talk on waste management.

"The knowledge acquired during the congress will assist each of us on our daily tasks," stated David Sosa from El Espectador. He received a letter from Colombian President Andres Pastrana congratulating him for winning the award and calling for continuous collaboration to protect the environment and to promote better understanding of sustainable development among all Colombians.

The contest was launched in 1999 in Guatemala and Guyana, expanded to include Colombia in 2000, and this year Bolivia, Brazil and Ghana were added to the competition.

"I hope the award becomes a tradition (in Bolivia) and continues to contribute to our profession, raising interest and awareness on environmental issues and its social implications," said Fernando Molina, a freelance writer in Bolivia, whose winning article was published in the daily La Prensa.

"I feel the institution of the award has sparked enthusiasm among fellow journalists at home to investigate and produce more stories on the environment," concluded first prize winner Vivian Baah, an independent journalist working with the League of Environmental Journalists in Ghana.

The Biodiversity Reporting Award is an initiative of Conservation International (CI), in collaboration with IFEJ and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). This year a total of 179 articles written by 88 journalists were submitted to the contest.

"We wanted to acknowledge the work done by the best environmental journalists in some tropical countries in raising awareness on biodiversity. Gathering them in a forum with participants of 30 nations provided a great opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences," said Haroldo Castro, CI's Vice President for International Communications and Director of the award.

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