Asian journalists honoured at environmental awards

Journalists from across the region were recognised for their work in increasing public awareness of issues such as pollution and deforestation at the annual Asian Environmental Journalism Awards.

Thirteen journalists and news organisations were honoured at the fourth Asian Environmental Journalism Awards (AEJA) held in Singapore on Tuesday for their work in bringing public attention to environmental issues across the region. 

This year’s awards attracted a record number of entries, rising nearly 20 per cent over last year to 175. 

With entries submitted by 129 journalists, photojournalists and bloggers from 21 countries, the AEJA is one of the region’s largest awards for environmental journalism. There was a record number of 57 entries from India, and 31 submissions from Pakistan.

Zainul Abidin Rasheed, former senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Minister’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, was AEJA’s chairman of the Judging Committee. He said: “Environmental challenges are not limited to geographical boundaries. The quality of environmental journalism is abundantly clear in the entries received in this year’s competition, from the methodical investigative reporting to the in-depth television coverage.”

Introduced in 2012 to recognise and reward excellence in environmental journalism, the AEJA seeks to highlight the work of citizen and professional journalists, as well as encourage high-quality coverage of environmental issues in Asia. The awards are open to Asian journalists, as well as journalists working in and writing about Asian countries.

The AEJA is organized by Singapore Environment Council (SEC), a non-government organisation established in 1995 that champions environmental causes in the city-state.

The winners are:

  • Syed Muhammad Abubakar from Pakistan’s Dawn (Winner), Kumar Sambhav from India’s Hindustan Times (Merit) -  SEC-Toyota Young Environmental Journalist of the Year;
  • Zsombor Peter from Cambodia Daily (Winner), Ryan Dagur from Ucanews in Indonesia (Merit) - SEC Coca-Cola Environmental Story of the Year;
  • Wang Yan from China’s NewsChina (Winner), Nirmal Ghosh from the Thailand bureau of Singapore’s Straits Times (Merit) - SEC-CDL Environmental Journalist of the Year;
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation (Winner), Channel NewsAsia, MediaCorp (Merit) - SEC- Lee Foundation Excellence in Environmental Reporting by a Media Organisation; 
  • Stella Paul from India’s Stella Musings (Merit) - SEC Environmental Blogger of the Year;
  • Chaideer Mahyuddin from Agence France-Presse in Indonesia (Winner), Suvra Kanti Das from Bangladesh’s Zuma Press (Merit) - SEC-CITIC Telecom International Environmental Photograph of the Year;
  • Jessica Cheam from Singapore’s Eco-Business (Winner), Jayashree Nandi from Times of India (Merit) - SEC Sustained Environmental Reporting by a Journalist

Three of the winners this year were merit winners from previous years. They are Peter from Cambodia (SEC Coca-Cola Environmental Story of the Year), Wang from China (SEC-CDL Environmental Journalist of the Year), and Mahyuddin from Indonesia (SEC Environmental Photograph of the Year).

Laura Davidson, communications & sustainability manager of Coca-Cola Singapore and Malaysia, said: “The calibre of entries for this year’s Coca-Cola Environmental Story of the Year was exceptional and it’s truly inspiring to see so many passionate journalists raising awareness about environmental issues in Asia.”

“It was no easy task to choose a winner but Zsombor’s story stood out for its depth of understanding on deforestation in Cambodia, balance of opinion and its fluid and engaging writing style.”

An additional one-off award was presented, in celebration of SEC’s 20th Anniversary. The SEC Sustained Environmental Reporting by a Journalist title was awarded to Jessica Cheam, editor and founder of Eco-Business and former environment and political correspondent at The Straits Times, for her efforts in contributing to environmental journalism over the last decade. 

“Environment reporters struggle to get their stories published, as it is often seen as an inferior issue to the bread and butter issues of the day. But this has changed over the years, and environment and sustainability issues affect the daily life of billions across the world,” she said.

“I’m deeply honoured to be given the award, which is an encouragement to all journalists who have persevered in reporting on these important issues,” she added.

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