'We are not doing enough': 27 Latin American media outlets pen editorial regarding climate change

Time is running out and the commitment of journalism at this moment is historic, according to 27 Latin American media that wrote a joint editorial on climate change published simultaneously on Jan. 1.

"Journalists across the continent have a deep commitment to understand based on science that the entire planet must move towards a different growth and development model," said the editorial titled “We are not doing enough.”


The media that participated in this opinion piece promoted by the Peruvian investigative site Ojo Público are InfoAmazonia of Brazil; Mongabay Latam; El Espectador, Semana Sostenible and Cuestión Pública of Colombia; Distintas Latitudes; Lado B, Periodistas de a Pie, Zona Docs, Trinchera and Raíchali of Mexico; El Surtidor of Paraguay; El Deber and Red Ambiental de Información of Bolivia; GK of Ecuador; La Mula, Actualidad Ambiental and Wayka of Peru; El Desconcierto of Chile; Onda Local of Nicaragua; Claves 21 from Argentina; Runrun.es, El Pitazo, TalCual and Correo del Caroní of Venezuela and Connectas.

Faced with the various alerts and reports from international organizations that defend the care of the environment and the obvious changes in the global climate, the objective of this group of media is to call on journalists at the regional level to take an active part in the dissemination of information that contributes to mitigating this climate crisis.

In a press release, the media explain that this initiative was born in meetings promoted by Ojo Público during 2018 called "Investigate from science.” These two meetings, which took place in Lima and Bogota, brought together about 25 journalists and researchers from different areas of science to exchange cases and research studies.

"As part of these meetings, [the idea] emerged to invite the media that participated, to promote a much more public and open commitment to the need to deepen and investigate the issues associated with the impact of climate change and also the main promoters of global warming,” co-founder and editor of Ojo Público, Nelly Luna, told the Knight Center.

And she added that the goal is "to do investigative journalism and promote new narratives that can disseminate solutions that are on display to promote more citizens, more collectives and more communities to be sensitized to a subject that we consider urgent."

According to Luna, the idea for the editorial was born mainly in response to the results of the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns that global environmental disaster is imminent if radical measures are not adopted in the next ten years.

It is necessary to establish a political perspective on how we understand and cover climate change, Luna explained, saying that it is from a political perspective because first we must reinforce the idea that climate change is a fact and that at this moment it is the main threat to humanity.

"There are 27 media who subscribe to this editorial, many of them dedicated to investigation and coverage of corruption issues," she said. "However, we believe that in the medium and long term, climate change could be an issue that is even more urgent than the cases of corruption we’ve covered in recent years, because the survival of the human species depends on this," she added.

Work on the editorial began in November and was carried out be a special team made up of Ojo Público, El Espectador, InfoAmazonía and Mongabay Latam, which wrote a draft based on a political and economic view that according to Luna is necessary to make understood.

According to Luna and the Brazilian journalist coordinator of InfoAmazonía, Gustavo Faleiros, the editorial was published strategically on Jan. 1, the day on which Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil, took office.

Bolsonaro has expressed his skepticism of climate change. Among the plans of those in his administration, Luna said, is to promote infrastructure projects that would affect the future of the Amazon, both in Brazil and in the other countries of the region with which it shares territory.

Faleiros told the Knight Center that apart from the issue of the global climate change crisis, InfoAmazonía is particularly interested in the editorial having an impact on the discussion of the Amazon in Brazil. "The fact that we have Bolsonaro directly attacking environmental policies established in the country is already quite worrying for us," he said.

"We think it is very important for journalists to be vigilant, as the eyes of the public in environmental policy," both in Brazil and throughout the region, Faleiros said.

From Mexico, journalist Ernesto Aroche, coordinator of the site Lado B, told the Knight Center that according to the editorial line they maintain, the current context of Latin America and the situation of the environment, the joint publication of the editorial could not seem more relevant. Therefore, Aroche said, they also proposed to convene the Mexican media alliance of the Periodistas de Pie network, whose majority agreed to subscribe to the joint statement.

After the publication of the editorial, Luna said, participating journalists and media plan to establish a media network that collaboratively develops new cross-border investigative topics on the environment, climate change, ecosystems, quality of life and survival.

One of the first collaborative reports of this network is “Madera Sucia” (Dirty Wood), Luna said. Several of the media that signed the editorial participated in this series of in-depth reports on Amazonian wood trafficking, which was led by Ojo Público and Mongabay Latam in 2018.

"As never before in history, we have the best tools to communicate information on a global scale and at speeds as fast as a beam of light,” the editorial points out in its last paragraphs. “The time has come to act, and journalism must be able to make the solutions and actions that are needed to stop the catastrophe of which we are already warned travel at that speed."