Guyana Chronicle journalist cops international media award

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Guyana Chronicle journalist Neil Marks

FIVE young journalists, among them Guyana’s Neil Marks, have been selected to join the upcoming climate change conference (COP21) in Paris in December.The journalists — winners of a ‘Voices2Paris’ storytelling contest run by UNDP and Oxfam — will help to cover the conference and the critical issue of tackling climate change. Over 130 articles were submitted from more than 40 countries globally.

“One of the objectives of the contest was to encourage further local coverage of climate change impacts and solutions. ‘Voices2Paris’ is already a success if we consider that the articles were published in more than 40 countries in mainstream as well as climate-related publications, and contributed to greater public awareness on climate change,” noted Sarah Bel, UNDP Communication Specialist in Geneva.

The stories were judged based on their content, structure, photographs and relevance, and how well they incorporated climate science. A group of senior journalists from top-tiered media — including EFE, the Economic Times of India, Climate Central, Climate home, Le Monde, Panapress and Thomson Reuters Foundation — scored the entries, and after two rounds of scoring, selected the five best stories.

In addition to the winners, the top 25 articles will be disseminated through the media and online.

“Reading and judging these stories took me quite vividly sometimes to the parts of the world that have done the least to cause global warming, but that are already suffering from its most dangerous effects,” noted John Upton from Climate Central.
“The major themes that emerged in the entries were flooding and heat and the impacts of climate change on farming. The developing world doesn’t just need help adapting and responding to climate change, it needs help understanding it. Kudos to the journalists who are telling these stories, and to the scientists and others who are helping them,” he added.

In addition to Marks, the contest winners, who will join UNDP at the COP21 in Paris, are: Diana Omondi Makimario (Kenya); Shahani Singh Shrestha (Nepal); Augustina Armstrong-Ogbonna (Nigeria); and María del Pilar Celi Frías (Peru).

Journalists whose entries are among the 25 best stories will also have the opportunity to continue learning, and will now work with mentors to deepen their investigation and fine-tune their articles for international publication before COP21.
UNDP and its partners, including OXFAM, Care International, China Dialogue, Deutsche Welle and Thomson Reuters Foundation, will disseminate the articles widely throughout November.

UNDP has been a leading supporter to developing countries throughout the COP21 negotiations and in the development of climate targets. The winning journalists will join UNDP’s delegation, including Administrator Helen Clark, in Paris for the conference, where UNDP will push heavily for post-Paris action to combat climate change.

The African Press Organisation, Deutsche Welle and Oxfam Hong Kong are special partners of the contest. (PANOS Caribbean)