The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) launched the African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Awards (ACCER) 2016. The competition that aims to recognise and reward excellence in
environmental journalism at all levels of society welcomes entries from passionate citizen journalists as well as professional journalists. ACCER Awards highlight exceptional journalistic work and encourages high quality
and impactful coverage of environmental issues in Africa.

The awards note that Climate change is a leading human and environmental crisis of the 21st century. Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change because it is a threat to economic growth, long-term prosperity, as well as survival of the already vulnerable populations.  Climate change has also been a threat to sustainable development and was an impediment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Mithika Mwenda, PACJA Secretary General, said

“By bringing climate change and environmental stories to the forefront of public perception, journalists play a key role- they serve as watchdogs of our environment. They bring inspiration and fresh ideas on environmental protection to the public. They also play an important educational role by presenting complex scientific and technical environmental issues in a simple format understandable by the public. For these reasons we must recognise them”.

Submissions for the awards are being made via the entry form website over a period of seven weeks, 8th March-26th April 2016. After the online submission, process finalists will be announced at
the sidelines of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA), which will take place on 23rd – 27th, May in Nairobi. They will also be enrolled in an intensive training program, the ACCER Awards Finalists Academy (TAAFA).

Mohamed Atani, Regional Information Officer, Regional Office for Africa, UNEP lauded the initiative saying

“With the adoption of the Agenda 2030 and signing of the Paris Agreement, 2016 is a critical year for Africa. Media will play a crucial role in tracking and reporting on challenges, opportunities and success stories across the continent. We encourage all journalists in Africa to tell Africa’s story not just within the continent but beyond. The media plays a key role in bridging the gap between science and policy, and engaging key stakeholders in the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063.”

The awards will also recognize bloggers and citizen journalists as they also seek to enlighten the world of the dangers of climate change.

The categories are
•       Environmental Journalist of the Year Award
•       Emerging Young Journalist
•       Photographer of the Year
•       ACCER Blogger
•       Documentary of the Year
•       Environmental story of the year
•       Francophone Journalist of the Year
•       Unique angle of the year

An independent judging panel of eminent professionals with backgrounds in: Journalism, Environmental Science, Academia and Climate Change Advocacy will choose finalists for each of the categories. The winners will be unveiled at the gala night on the eve of the World Environment Day. The entire process will be audited to ensure it is fair and transparent.

Wanjohi Kabukuru, one of the ACCER Awards 2016 judges said that environmental journalists have what it takes to move environmental stories from the back and feature pages to the front page.

“This can be achieved by sourcing stories deeply as environmental stories touch on other issues such as economic, health and politics”.

The ACCER award is coordinated and implemented by PACJA with support from UNEP, Christian Aid and the Government of Sweden among others.