Conservation International-Guyana (CI-G) on Monday launched the eighth edition of the Biodiversity Reporting Award to honour excellence in environmental journalism and this year's winner will receive a local all-expenses-paid trip to the Konashen District in the south of Guyana and a cash award of $90,000.
The award is a collaborative effort among Conservation International, the International Centre for Journalists (ICJ) and the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ).
In a press release, Communications Manager of CI-G, Ajay Baksh, said that the goal of the award is to increase the quality and quantity of environmental reporting by recognizing the outstanding work of environmental journalists, building capacity, providing training and establishing a local network of environmental journalists. The award was first launched in Guyana in 1999 and this year it is being held in nine countries in four languages. The countries are Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Madagascar, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
In the release, Conservation International's Vice-President for Global Communications and Executive Director for the award, Haroldo Castro, said: "Ever since the award was created, Guyana has maintained a leading position as one of the more interesting countries for environmental reporting.
The country's rich biodiversity and its large extensions of pristine lands make Guyana the perfect place for a strong community of environmentally aware reporters. It is this commitment to and care for environmental welfare that our yearly award rewards." But Guyana has been cut from participating in the customary international environmental summit held annually towards the end of every year. Unlike the other participating countries, the winner from Guyana will not be attending this overseas forum but will instead be afforded a local trip in addition to the cash award.
The winners from the other participating countries will be invited to participate in a summit on sustainable development in Madrid, Spain from November 27 to December 1 this year. In past years, first prize winners have participated in international summits in Thailand, New Orleans and Maryland in the USA, Egypt, Germany and Colombia. Baksh blamed lack of funding from the international sponsors of the prize for Guyana's non-participation in the international summit this year. Last year's winners travelled to Sarawak on the island of Borneo, East Malaysia, to attend the International Media and Environmental Summit (IMES). Baksh said that the local trip will be to the home of the Wai Wai, in the pristine rainforests of the Konashen District in southern Guyana. As in previous years, the second and third place prize-winners will receive cash awards of $60,000 and $30,000 respectively. All journalists, as long as they are permanent residents of Guyana and work for local or national print media, may participate in the contest. Journalists are allowed to submit up to three articles of a maximum of 5,000 words each. All entries must have been published in a national English-language newspaper or magazine between June 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006. The deadline to submit all articles to CI-Guyana's office is June 9, 2006.