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  • Introduction

The year 2020 was expected to see stock taking on the five-year Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) towards averting climate crisis. Issues of political backing, design of NDCs and whether they conform to specific nations’ needs, individual national efforts, coordination, budget, scrutiny, monitoring and reporting all have been interrogated. The situation in Africa is wanting. Today, the climate crisis is deadlier, with recent flooding and mudslides killing hundreds and causing displacement of thousands. Besides deaths of humans and livestock, there has been disruption of livelihoods, loss of property and destruction of infrastructure. For the past few months, and as the rest of the world focuses on the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), which has also killed in droves since its first attack in Wuhan, China in December, 2019, climate and environment reporting has been relegated to the periphery of world news.

Despite the world’s concerns about the direct impacts of climate change on people, society and economies, all effort has been directed to mitigating the coronavirus effects. Meanwhile, forest fires, cyclones, land/mudslides, droughts and flooding remain synonymous with Africa. There have been clashes and raids over resources, despite governments’ engaging in disarmament. The nexus between such conflicts and climate change is clear. Hunger, unemployment, poverty and retarded economic growth still hound the continent.

The role of the media and other communicators in addressing the climate crisis by sharing information and expanding awareness among stakeholders is vitally important. Journalists, with the help of convergence and the Internet, remain key in maintaining the knowledge-action continuum between research, extension, and stakeholders. They are the mouthpieces of the vulnerable people at the frontline of climate change impacts, and the advocates for climate action at all levels. As part of its effort to promote climate and environmental journalism, and enhance awareness on broader climate discourse and intervention measures, PACJA pioneered the  African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting (ACCER) Awards, a biennual reward scheme that has built an enviable mass of journalists across Africa, thus elevating the subject of climate change in the continent’s news platforms.

 The ACCER Awards, since 2013 and growing

One of the many sectoral initiatives pioneered by PACJA as a way of broadening awareness and conversation around climate change and environmental conservation, the ACCER Awards  was inaugurated in 2013 at a Gala Night bringing together representatives from Governments, development partners, civil society and private sector.

The 2020 Awards is the fourth in a series, and comes at a time uncertainty abounds regarding climate action in the context of Covid-19 crisis. This makes journalists and media networks important actors in unpacking and building the synergy for the two crises, making a compelling case for them to be tackled simultaneously. A 2018 Research Programme on Climate Change, Food and Security, dubbed: “Linking knowledge with action: The role of media in climate change adaptation and mitigation” highlights the need for journalists to understand the climate crisis, and highlights how they can help link knowledge to action.

For the past eight years since 2013, PACJA has used ACCER Awards to identify, mobilise, bring together and train journalists on various aspects of climate change and environmental reporting. The galvanisation of a critical mass of journalists through ACCER Awards has evolved into a Platform, the Pan African Media Alliance on Climate Change (PAMACC), which has grown into a formidable network for hundreds of journalists across the continent. The table below highlights the winners and runners-up of the previous ACCER Awards.





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Total Entries

Winner & Country

Dianne Ninahazwe








First R-U








2nd RU















PACJA, in partnership with several partners from both public and private sectors, have translated the ACCER Awards Scheme into a tangible and concrete outcome that has generated remarkable interest among journalists, media houses and other stakeholders. In building on the success to deliver an Awards Scheme that has emerged as the most prestigious environmental incentive in the African continent, the organisation will draw lessons from the past ACCER Awards and other related schemes.


Continuous capacity building under The ACCER Awards Finalists Academy (TAAFA)


In partnership with several stakeholders, PACJA initiated an innovative fellowship as a capacity building programme for ACCER Awards finalists to ensure continuous, enhanced, in-depth reporting and media coverage of environmental and climate change issues with a key focus on Africa.

Through TAAFA, continuous training is offered to journalists to enable them understand the efficacies and developing geographies of climate change, and such evolving issues as adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer, capacity building, climate finance, transparency and Nationally Determined Contributions of the Paris Agreement.

Participants to the TAAFA are picked through ACCER Awards process, starting from application, preliminary judgment and finalists.

ACCER AWARDS 2020: Making climate action a way of life

 There is no doubt that climate crisis is an existential threat to humanity and the health of the planet. Before the Coronavirus struck, the international discourse on climate change was the most topical issue shaping the global geopolitical interactions. The nexus of the two crises – climate and Covid-19 – will dominate the global stage for the foreseeable future. Political campaigns, even for the superpowers, are pegged on where each country is headed in terms of health, food security, energy access, economic stability and general security.



  1. To ensure Africa’s climate story is told as it is, highlighting the areas unseen by the rest of the world, and which determines how intervention is reached
  2. To motivate journalists and media houses in Africa to effectively cover and report on Climate Change and Environment
  3. To illuminate innovative best-practice approaches in Policy and Practice towards response strategies and programmes
  4. To enhance proactive media participation in African Climate Change discourses with a view of perspectives and narratives
  5. To sustain and boost coverage of Climate Change issues by journalists in the mainstream media and media networks
  6. To promote and create awareness about opportunities existing in green investment both in public and private realm.



Criteria for identification

Identification of recipient of the awards will be conducted through an online call for application, shared out with media networks all over Africa. This will be done through:

  • A link in the PACJA Website set for ACCER Awards 2020
  • Social Media activations
  • Reaching out to universities and colleges with strong journalism and environmental programmes
  • Emailing media houses

It will be an interactively participatory process. An independent panel of eminent professionals from diverse backgrounds will be assembled to lead the process.


Entries, selection and Award categories

Potential awardees will present direct entries with brief citations demonstrating how their journalism may have practically enhanced access to information delivery in a specified area. An independent panel of judges will review the entries and make a decision on the winners and runners-up for each Award category. The judges will have the final word on who is awarded for each category outlined below:


  1. ACCER Investigative Journalism: Print or broadcast journalist who has highlighted and profiled a sensitive environmental problem
  2. ACCER News Feature: A Radio program and journalist who has created a programme that has increased understanding of environmental issues, and made it easier for the masses to understand issues on Climate Justice, Climate Change, Sustainable Development or New Technology.
  3. ACCER Photograph of the Year Award: A photo that speaks a thousand words on a matter that touches environment
  4. ACCER Blogger Award: A multimedia journalist who made great use of online facilities to break a story, follow-up or bring attention to environmental issues
  5. ACCER Emerging Young Journalist: A journalist aged between 19 and 25 and with a passion on environment or climate issues in a tangible way
  6. Citizen Journalist Award: A citizen of Africa who does not belong to any media house, nor is trained as a journalist, but who demonstrates great skill in following up on matters of climate or environment through a medium accessible by public. Such a person can be nominated by a different party.
  7. Consistency and Niche Award: a). Best Female b). Best Male. A journalist may submit links to work done consistently for the last two years, showing passion in addressing the climate crisis. They must be at least 5 features, commentaries or news features.
  8. Do Something Humanitarian Award: The Applicant will show exactly what s/he has done (e.g improving food security by enforcing smart farming, ending soil erosion, ending climate related conflict)
  9. Embrace Disability Award: This is an award for anyone living with disability but whose work to combat climate crisis has been felt widely. They may be journalists or not, but will have to illustrate what they have done in a note. The Award will be split between best female and best male PLWD.


Judging Criteria

  • Applicant identifies a climate related problem and shows effort(s) to find ways to deal with it. This will mean not just highlighting an existing issue but also going a step further to ask responsible authorities tough questions, including why things are the way they are and when the affected should expect change
  • Applicant shows consistency and passion in addressing matters of climate change and environment. Award winners MUST have made a significant long-term commitment to improving the lives of others through their stories.
  • The applicant demonstrates extensive and tangible acts that have saved large communities from the effects of climate change or reduced the risk of the same in a visibly big way.


 Terms of Reference for the judges

There will be a seven-member panel of judges whose main role will be to:

  1. Carefully review the selection process, with a view to improving and/or developing clear parameters against which the various entries will be rated.
  2. Consider, examine and rate the entries/nominations based on the agreed parameters. The rating will be based on extensive consultation among the judges in order to ensure consensus
  3. Develop and present a report indicating the final decision with regard to the overall winners, winners in each category and runners-up
  4. Prepare and submit a report to PACJA highlighting lessons learnt, areas of improvement for future awards and possible opportunities to be considered for the awards, among other issues
  5. Carry out any other duty that may be agreed upon with PACJA


Important to note

The Judges reserve the right to disqualify any entry if it does not meet the contest criteria and present regulations

  • By entering, participants warrant that their print/audio materials are original work and do not infringe on any third party’s rights
  • Contest entry constitutes an agreement to allow PACJA to publicise contestants’ names, occupations, countries, and to publish entries
  • Contest entry also constitutes an agreement to allow PACJA to use the material in its publications and in promotional activities. Applicants will retain ownership and all other rights to future use of their material
  • If for any reason the competition is not completed as planned, PACJA reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend it
  • The decisions made by the panel of judges are final and beyond dispute

All participants in this competition implicitly accept the rules presented in this document



Entry Requirements

  1. Eligibility

The competition is open to all journalists from Africa and who are from established media houses, private or public-sector media. Freelance journalists and bloggers are also eligible.

  1. Submission Format
  2. Entries must be original pieces written in English or French
  3. Articles must have been published between August 2018 and June 2020

iii. Each candidate will submit only one print (in word doc or docx format), audio piece (in mp3 format) or video clip. Entries are to be submitted by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Print word limit: Maximum 1,200 words. Font: Garamond, 12 point; 1.5 line spacing.

Audio pieces: Maximum five minutes.

TV pieces: Maximum five minutes

  1. All applicants must submit a cover page containing the article title and author’s name, along with a short biographical note including name and full contact details, including email address, telephone number(s), postal address, town, country, and a scanned photocopy of the author’s identification card or passport sent as a JPEG.


III. Deadline

Submission of articles begins on June 10, 2020. The deadline for receipt of submissions is July 30, 2020. Entries are to be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Entries received after deadline will not be considered.


  1. Competition Theme

Making climate action a way of life

  • How are communities making use of existing legal frameworks to demand from their governments climate action and prevent exposure to looming disasters?
  • What notable contributions have stakeholders made in the achievement of environment conservation?
  • What are the glaring gaps that make Africa most vulnerable in the case of a crisis different from climate emergency
  • The case of Africa as a continent with special needs, and why the developed world must choose to release the necessary funds
  • Are the COP negotiations really benefiting Africa?


  1. Judging Criteria

Judges will review entries and decide on the winners in the print/web-based, TV and radio categories. The pieces should demonstrate that the author understands the issues outlined above.

The main selection criteria for the pieces are:

  • Originality, structure, and quality of writing/broadcast piece
  • Creativity and color (use of relevant interviews and examples to illustrate the issues)
  • Variety of voices/quotes used
  • Quality of language (engaging writing/radio style, accurate spelling and grammar, etc.)
  • Respect of the prescribed format


The following will be key:

  • Have you identified the problem and outlined how communities are using interesting measurable ways to solve it?
  • How have you, through your story, shown your commitment to combating the climate crisis? What reaction has your story elicited?
  • Has your story opened any eyes? Have you created any awareness worth changing the manner in which communities governments or other stakeholders treat the climate crisis?


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The twin crisis of Covid-19 and climate must be tackled simultaneously

Only hours into PACJA’s discussion on Africa’s vulnerable situation with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic amidst a climate crisis, raging floods and mudslides have left a trail of destruction and deaths in the Rift Valley region of Kenya.

Besides displacing 4,000 people, killing at least four and leaving dozens missing, the mudslides happening in a county bordering another where at least 50 people were killed by a landslide last December, has swept homes, schools, churches and a police post, besides killing livestock and destroying crop.

This would not be anyone’s wish, not even on their worst enemy. More so at this time when the world is struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought all economies to a standstill, and is still wreaking havoc in several countries, with deaths nearing 163,000 worldwide. The United States leads in Covid-19 deaths at nearly 40,000, but with at least 67,000 cases of recovery. The same country was last week hit by at least 39 tornadoes that caused destruction of property and loss of lives.
The African continent is at crossroads. While zoonotic diseases have been a threat to humans for decades, no one saw the novel coronavirus coming, at least not the current level of devastation it has caused. The pandemic has taken centre stage, despite the fact that the problems that existed before are still staring us in the face. And everyone globally has suffered. The situation for Africa is, however, different as the effects of the climate crisis have gradually and continuously devastated communities, including loss of life and livelihoods. Images of the aftermath of the recent mudslides are disturbing, with body parts of animals seen trapped between rocks and families now searching for their loved ones and belongings in the mud.

Truth be told, Africa needs to be treated as a special case. The cries for Africa to be considered a continent with special needs have been loud, but conveniently ignored by the biggest contributors to global warming. This has contributed to the continent and its people suffering more from the impacts of the climate crisis because we are not well-equipped to deal with natural calamities. In fact, this same issue was swept under the carpet at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP25 in Madrid, Spain, in 2019, leaving Africa with an egg on its face for innocently stating its genuine needs. However, despite this anti-climax, the African Group of Negotiators was already looking at ways to ensure this time Africa gets heard on this crisis at the COP26, and we must not relent. Everyone in the global community must take responsibility for their contributions to the climate change. Africans also need to live.

In 2019, a threat to the continent’s food security came in the form of a desert locust invasion. Countries were busy deploying measures to deal with the locusts, but when the novel coronavirus struck, attention shifted. One would have been forgiven for assuming the locusts had abandoned mission and decided to work from home to let the coronavirus pass. But the destructive insects are still here and have been busy. News that they have now invaded Uganda means we are dealing with more than one crisis.
The effect of Covid-19 on African nations’ economies is insurmountable. The fact that the pandemic struck spontaneously is undeniable. However, the fact that massive financial resources have been mobilised and allocated to address the crisis and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic to allow economies to get back on their feet means the resources were available all along. Yet, climate change, which evidently takes away more lives, albeit more gradually, has been ignored for decades and those most responsible for the crisis won’t release green climate funds.

As communities struggle with natural disasters such as the mudslides in Kenya, their safety from Covid-19 is compromised, as they troop to rescue centres to receive state relief. This is likely to be the same scenario elsewhere should natural disasters occur during this period.
But how will Africa ever get out of this quagmire?
As the Covid-19 crisis continues to ravage the globe, nations around the world are looking inwards on how to rebuild their economies and bolster their societies. We will be doomed if we do not learn from this crisis and start thinking of how Africa can cushion its societies against the impacts of climate change, while continuing the fight to get all nations globally to play their part.

African governments must now work on building the continent’s resilience, with a focus on strengthening systems across all sectors such as health and the environment. Several crises that are not necessarily climate-induced need to be faced without dependence on developed nations. With the Covid-19 there have been several efforts to innovate. Kenya’s Kenyatta University just unveiled a prototype for a ventilator, which has so far received commendations. This is the time to increase funding to research institutions and the manufacturing sector African nations can stop being the market for the East and Western nations’ sub-standard products.

Technology and knowledge transfer must be prioritised, as this is now proving to be one way in which businesses can continue even with a catastrophe of the Covid-19 magnitude. The use of technology must be extended to agriculture to deal with food insecurity, especially in poor African countries.
In addition, our Nationally Determined Contributions, as per the Paris Agreement, must take shape and countries begin immediate implementation. Time is running out.
African nations must also strengthen financial institutions so that the money saved in foreign accounts can build Africa. African governments must also fight corruption and build trust among their nationals.

We must not forget that Covid-19 has not replaced the problems Africa or any other nation already had. It has just compounded them, and Africa remains the worst affected.

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PACJA Statement on the Postponement of the UNFCCC-COP26

Nairobi, 2 April 2020 - The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) welcomes the postponement of this year’s climate change summit, COP26, due to COVID-19. It is necessary, timely and sensible under the current circumstances. However, the Alliance warns that this sacrifice will be a wasted opportunity unless world leaders learn from the COVID-19 crisis and move decisively to prevent a climate meltdown, which presents an even graver existential danger.

Rescheduling COP26 is a significant contribution by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the international community of climate campaigners to the efforts to lower the scale of COVID-19 infections and save lives. The decision pre-empts the dampening impacts of planning disruptions that have been caused by the global shutdown to deal with the outbreak. All parties now have time to focus on the COVID-19 emergency and to regroup and re-strategise ahead of the summit sometime in 2021. It is reassuring that despite the postponement of the summit and the cancellation of numerous pre-COP events, the UNFCCC plans to maintain momentum to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.

The current global health emergency contains important lessons for all nations and their leaders. We now know that despite unprecedented prosperity and leaps in science, engineering and technology, humankind is unprepared for disruptive change above a certain threshold, such as that set by COVID-19. In a few months, millions of livelihoods have evaporated, businesses have stalled, powerful leaders have stumbled and nations have warped. COVID-19 has also recast the distribution of global power and exposed the limitations of narrow interest politics in dealing with existential problems.

Yet, dangerous levels of climate change, projected within the next decade without ambitious mitigation actions, will be more disruptive to the global system. Even at the current ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, models show that a rising sea will bury hundreds of communities, cities and entire countries. Climate-induced migration is already occurring at a scale higher than the combined displacement of people due to conflict and political strife. In Africa and much of the developing world, unpredictable rains, droughts, cyclones and pest outbreaks have increased the burdens of poverty, famines and disease. For instance, countries in Eastern Africa and the Middle East have had to deal with locust invasions in recent months and the crippling impacts on food security are yet to be quantified. In sum, a climate meltdown will rip apart economies, wipe out thousands of species and push humanity to the brinks. Its impacts will last longer and cost much more to recover from than COVID-19.

That is why we believe the world must continue to prioritise the climate as it digs itself out of the current health emergency. We have an opportunity in both COVID-19 and the alarm bells of a climate meltdown to definitively change course towards a sustainable, low-carbon and climate- resilient future, where we shall be better placed to deal with a pandemic of COVID-19’s scale. It is our duty as the civil society to continue holding governments and other non-state actors to account. Despite the lockdown, we will use other means at our disposal - especially technology - to continue observing and tracking commitments by various stakeholders.

More significantly, the postponement of COP26 must not be an excuse for those who have been hell-bent on slowing climate action to escape scrutiny, or for funders of climate action initiatives across the world to divert resources. As an annual event where we gauge the progress on the implementation of climate action commitments by various governments, the COPs are important convergences to remind, applaud and shame, as well as to share perspectives and ideas. The COPs are also a much-needed avenue for climate actors to encourage each other that even when it looks gloom due to competing geopolitical interests, there is hope for humanity and the planet. This spirit must survive the current health crisis.



Mithika Mwenda,

Executive Director





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