A record of 234 entries was received for this year’s Asian Environmental Journalism Awards (AEJA), representing a 34 per cent surge from the previous year. Five years into its run, AEJA - which recognises and rewards outstanding environmental journalists who put Asia’s environmental issues at the forefront through quality reporting, arresting images and compelling facts - has noticeably gained traction across 20 countries, including first-time participant, Azerbaijan.
New this year is the inaugural environmental forum featuring a plenary discussion addressing the role of the media in ensuring the global community fulfils its responsibilities outlined at COP21 in December last year. Many countries including Singapore have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement and the forum puts into context and gather critical insights into the media’s role in not just reporting but pushing for action on major environmental issues.
Moderated by Ms Jessica Cheam, Editor and Founder of Eco-Business, the panel features senior leaders from academia, business, government, media and civic society.
At the ceremony, 11 awards across five categories were given out to eight outstanding journalists and two media organisations. Ms Wang Yan from China retains the SEC-CDL Environmental Journalist of the Year title she won in 2015 with her thought-evoking articles that centre on social, environmental and human rights issues pervading in her country.
Channel NewsAsia took home the SEC-Lee Foundation Environmental Media Organisation of the Year award which they attained previously in 2014.
Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Singapore’s former Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and currently the Foreign Minister’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, is the Chairman of the AEJA Judging Committee, a role he has held since the inaugural edition of the AEJA in 2012.
“Each year, the judges are impressed by the quality submissions and face the very difficult task of selecting winners for the different categories. This year is no different. The work of environmental journalists will be essential and continue to grow in advancing our world forward in environmental awareness and responsibility,” said Mr Zainul.
Explaining the purpose behind the introduction of the forum, Ms Isabella Loh, Chairman of SEC said, “We want the AEJA to be the platform to both recognise environmental journalists and organisations for their brave, impartial and outstanding work, and discuss environmental issues and solutions.
The forum will enable guests, panellists and journalists to learn and share best practices, and highlight Asia’s leadership role in the fight for environmental sustainability. The Paris Climate Agreement represents a historic step forward and a golden opportunity for everyone on this planet to make mitigating climate change and protecting the environment a top priority.”
Ms Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer for City Developments Limited (CDL), a long-time supporter of AEJA said, “Given the unprecedented level of global commitment to combat climate change, countries, communities, businesses and individuals must do their part.
Journalists play a significant role in advocating and calling for action, as their stories help to interpret complex environmental issues and raise eco-consciousness. Since the Awards started in 2012, we have seen greater interest and depth in environmental reporting.
Wang Yan has indeed raised the bar by clinching the winner title for the SEC-CDL Environmental Journalist of the Year for two straight years. We hope that her works and other environmental journalists will continue to inspire people in the region and across the world to do more for the environment.”
Over 30 journalists will attend an exclusive workshop on environmental journalism led by Mr Adam Hunt, Media & Communications Director of Internews, who has a wealth of experience in conducting media training on environmental issues, and plays a significant role in international development projects.
Issues surrounding opportunities and challenges in environmental and sustainable development reporting will be on the agenda, as well as tips on getting the best out of digital media platforms.
Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State for Communications and Information and Ministry of Health, officiated the awards ceremony as the Guest-of-Honour and presented the awards at Orchard Hotel.