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SINGAPORE – (AFP) – Agence France-Presse on Thursday was among the first winners of a new series of awards honouring high-quality reporting about Asia’s fast-changing environment.
AFP won the category of “Excellence in Environmental Reporting by a Media Organisation” in the inaugural awards established by the Singapore Environment Council.
AFP was chosen for a series of 10 reports across Asia focusing on people battling against powerful interests to protect their environments, or implementing inspirational programmes to improve their habitats.
“Agence France-Presse… was selected due to its diverse coverage and high potential for the stories to mobilise real change due to strong human-centric stories supported by policy and scientific facts,” SEC said in a statement.
The AFP series included text, photo and video reports on Malaysian tribespeople whose traditional jungle lifestyles on Borneo island have been torn apart by an enormous hydroelectric dam at Bakun.
It also included a video report on a fight by residents of the coastal town of Iwaishima in Japan to stop a nuclear power plant, and an article on efforts by Cambodian citizens to protect their forests after a campaigner was murdered.
On the uplifting side, AFP reported on a Philippine entrepreneur installing “solar light bulbs” into hundreds of thousands of slum homes, as well as young Indonesians joining the global urban farming movement.
“Agence France-Presse displays strong organisational commitment to the environment and it definitely has an effective reach across Asia,” said Desmond Wong, general manager of Toyota Singapore, which sponsored the category.
AFP’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Gilles Campion, said the media company was delighted to receive the award, which was presented by Singapore Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at a ceremony.
“It reinforces our commitment to serious and consistent coverage of environmental issues in Asia,” Campion said.
“Not just the severe problems but also the innovative ideas and solutions that are emerging from individuals, communities and institutions to address climate change, pollution and other concerns,” he said.
Among the recipients of the two other categories in the Asian Environment Journalism Awards were Grace Chua from Singapore’s The Straits Times newspaper. She was named “Environmental Journalist of the Year”.
The Singapore Environment Council, a prominent non-government organisation, said it would expand the awards to five categories next year with the addition of best photograph and best blogger.