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GRID-Arendal awards grants to investigative journalists working on various issues related to environmental crime. There is a pressing need to put environmental crime in the spotlight of international attention, and this is where investigative journalism can make a difference. The grant money is intended to support investigative journalists by covering costs related to an investigation (travel, document retrieval, interviews etc.).

The first grants were awarded in 2015, creating awareness on specific environmental crime issues through stories posted in international media. This included investigations about illegal gold mining in Colombia, highlighting its devastating effects on the environment and local people (by Bram Ebus, published by Newsweek and Vice); and about politicians granting companies permits to cut down trees in the protected areas of Mount Kenya National Park while simultaneously restricting the local population access to the forest (by David Njagi, published by Thomson Reuters Foundation and Mongabay).

In 2021, GRID-Arendal awarded four grants at 25,000 NOK each. Read about this year's winners, here is an overview of the last stories produced:

The world´s thirst for palm oil is about to destroy Asia´s largest remaining rainforest (Peter Yeung)

Indonesia has long been the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, a crop that generated around $23 billion for the Southeast Asia nation last year and one that is used in a vast array of products from shampoo to lipstick and pizza dough. But after decades of cultivation, the country’s least-developed province, Papua – home to the third largest stretch of rainforest in the world – is now palm oil’s final frontier. An investigation by VICE World News has found that Papua’s unique rainforest is being destroyed by palm oil companies with murky owners, that a million more hectares are under threat of deforestation despite the Indonesian government’s pledges to protect it and that indigenous peoples across the region are being systematically denied free, prior and informed consent over development on their ancestral land.

A hazy allocation (Tatenda Prosper Chitagu)

Two Chinese mining companies were secretly awarded coal mining concessions in the middle of the country's biggest game reserve, the Hwange National Park. The Chinese miners were stopped in their tracks following pressure from conservationists and safari owners, who went to the High Court for an interdict. Six months later, despite the public outcry, one of the miners returned and was re-granted the mining permit, but it is not clear now whether it will be still in the game park or just outside. This is despite the environmental damage being caused by other Chinese coal miners just outside the game reserve, polluting rivers which are affecting communities downstream and increasing human wildlife conflict as the animals' natural habitat is disturbed by the noise. His story was published in The Standard and The Independent.

The women who stand against fracking in the middle Magdalena valley (María Claudia Dávila and Lia Valero)

In Puerto Wilches, Santander, a region of northeastern Colombia, the future of water and biodiversity is debated between allowing or not the research for exploration of hydrocarbons with fracking techniques. Although these lands have suffered the consequences of large-scale exploitation of hydrocarbons and the monoculture of palm oil for more than seven decades, for the first time different state agencies and oil companies seek to use a technique that has been controversial worldwide due to its environmental impact: fracking. In the midst of this national debate and the local dispute over water, where part of the community opposes these extractive projects, several women leaders are putting their lives at risk to defend this territory. In this written and photographic report, María and Lia talk about the environment, from a gender perspective, from those who are committed to its protection, during an urgent moment where Colombia is ranked as the riskiest country in the world to be a defender of natural resources.

Chinese-Run Company Aided By Govt Officials Exports Charcoal And Timber Despite Ban, Threatening Nigeria’s Forests (Chikezie Omeje)

A Chinese-run company Kwo-Chief Investment has maneuvered the Nigerian authorities to continue to export charcoal to South Korea and rosewood to China, despite the country suspending exportation of both products. While the Chinese pull strings with Nigerian officials, countries also clear illegal forestry goods from Nigeria. Such an arrangement shows the weakness of global climate action. Countries with stronger forestry protection let their citizens enjoy products that are decimating tropical forests elsewhere.

GRID-Arendal announced new award opportunities for 2022! To apply, please read the announcement found here, and download and fill in the application form below. Subscribe to our news and social media to get notified when we announce new funding opportunities.

Tags: Africa Bolivia climate change forests Kenya Latin America mining mountains rainforests transboundary governance water wildlife Colombia chemicals toxics and heavy metals environmental crime

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