Celebrating an impactful 2023 in the Caribbean

Join us in reflecting on 2023 and looking forward to 2024! We're so lucky to have your continued support in the Caribbean.

Looking back on 2023, we at Climate Tracker are excited to celebrate another year of empowering Caribbean journalists and amplifying the urgent stories of climate change in a region disproportionately affected but often overlooked. 

When I got the link to a vacancy at Climate Tracker back in 2022, I thought, why not give it a shot and be part of the international community to fight against climate change? Currently, I am in my second year at Climate Tracker, and it feels great to be on the frontlines and working towards improving climate reporting in the Caribbean. Working with journalists and experts in and outside the region is an absolute privilege for me. I feel like a true Caribbean Dutch-speaking boy. 

As the Programme Officer and Journalism Mentor on the Caribbean team, I am incredibly honoured to reflect on all the wonderful work we did in 2023 and what you can expect from us this year. 

2024 is a leap year and in Surinamese culture, a leap year is known for holding weird events. However, the only weird event I am hoping for is that I wake up one day in 2024 and read: Breaking news…Climate Change is gone…humans will survive…

Now, onto more realistic things…

In 2022, we took bold steps to address the scarcity of climate-related media coverage in the Caribbean. 55+ journalists were trained and equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle the pressing issues of climate change. Notably, three fellowship programmes stood out:

  • Energy Transition Journalism Fellowship 2022: Journalists from Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago seized the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of reporting on the energy transition in the Caribbean. Nine outstanding fellows not only underwent rigorous training but also published compelling stories in their local media. Our fellow Kemol King did a story on electric cars in Guyana, while Tamoy Campbell from Jamaica looked at the policy framework to be able to implement energy transition in Jamaica. 

Read the Energy Transition stories here

  • Climate Citizen Journalism Programme 2022: Recognising the power of civic engagement, we collaborated with The Cropper Foundation to conduct a Citizen Climate Journalism Fellowship. Ten citizen representatives from Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago underwent a comprehensive 2-month training programme, producing impactful stories published on Cari-Bois and the Climate Tracker website. Priscilla Misiekaba-Kia looked at how climate change impacts the fishery in Suriname. To her surprise, there was no research done and all was based on assumptions. In Trinidad and Tobago, Ryan Seemungal looked at the role and impact of environmental finance in making in the Caribbean. 

Read the Citizen Climate Journalism stories here

Lunchtime with two Guyanese Journalism Fellows – Kemol King and Ronald Taylor – I got to meet on a short trip next door!
  • Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship 2022: In partnership with the Open Society Foundations, we launched a 6-month Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship. Fifteen selected journalists from across the region explored critical questions surrounding climate justice, aiming to create a Caribbean climate justice journalism community and platform. Here are some of the biggest stories in the Caribbean. 

The year was closed off with COP27, giving Ryan Bachoo from Trinidad and Tobago the opportunity to report live from Egypt and Tyrell Gittens (Trinidad and Tobago) and Kelesha Willimas (Jamaica) both benefited from online training and reporting support. 

Read the COP27 stories!

Building on the successes of the previous year, 2023 brought a tighter selection process for the second cycle of the Climate Justice Fellowship. 15 journalists from 11 Caribbean countries emerged from this rigorous process, delivering extraordinary stories and further elevating climate reporting in the region. Meet our fellows here.

We also launched a groundbreaking initiative, the Community Resource Grants. This enabled eight Caribbean applicants to develop tools aimed at easing the work of media and civil society in understanding niche climate issues, topics that either have not been reported on much or where information and contacts are difficult to attain. Three tools have already been produced, with the programme set to continue into 2024.

A significant milestone was reached with the launch of Climate Tracker’s dedicated website for the Caribbean in November. This platform serves as a hub for all Caribbean content and opportunities.

The formal registration of Climate Tracker in the Caribbean is on the verge of completion, promising smoother financial transactions and greater organisational impact in the region.

How can we forget the launch of our very own podcast: The Caribbean Climate Calabash

We were also able to meet the Indian Ambassador Dr. Shankar Balachandran,  in Suriname and gave him an overview of the work we do in the region. We discussed India’s record of climate action and the possibility of taking a delegation of Caribbean journalists to India to witness the momentous changes. I am more than happy to announce that we are completing the final touches on the project proposal. 

As part of growing our network, we also met with some of our fellows. I met Priscilla Kia and Stefanie Lauchman in Suriname because I am also from Suriname. My colleague from Belize, Hipolito Novelo met our fellows Duane Moody and Marco Lopez

During a nice dinner, we discussed various topics. It was again my pleasure being Priscilla’s mentor.  Way back I was her mentor when she started as a journalist. It makes me feel proud to see people grow. 

I had dinner with some Surinamese Fellows, here’s Stefanie Lauchman

I wish that I could meet all our fellows. Let’s hope travelling in the Caribbean–will be much cheaper shortly and let’s make sure that our governments take into account going green. 

In an unprecedented moment, the Caribbean was proudly represented by six journalists at COP28: four in person and two virtually. Notably, Surinamese journalist Stefanie Lauchman made history as the first Surinamese journalist to cover COP in person. 

Their presence marked a significant step forward for the region, ensuring that Caribbean voices and perspectives were heard on the global stage. They did incredible reporting. Globally, we were able to get 21 journalists from 18 countries to participate in COP28. In total, more than 50 stories were produced. 

Meet the journalists who represented the Caribbean

The journey has not been without its challenges. Some participants withdrew. Those who rose to the challenge face difficulties maintaining commitments because of busy schedules. And of course, securing funding for fellowships was a hurdle we were happy we crossed. Yet we remain steadfast in our determination to train more journalists in the coming years and foster increased collaboration among regional journalists.

Read all their COP28 stories here

Climate Tracker’s impact in the Caribbean is undeniable. From empowering journalists to fostering community resilience and representation at international forums, the organisation stands as a beacon of hope in the fight against climate change. As they gear up for another year of challenges and triumphs, Climate Tracker remains committed to its mission of training, supporting, and incentivizing better climate journalism globally.

“In 2024 I woke up with the feeling of being a true Caribbean boy. During the process of mentoring fellows and talking with experts on climate change I not only made friends and built a good network, but also made me understand how important the work is that we do in the region.” – Johannes Damodar Patak, Programme Officer and Journalism Mentor

“2023 was a year of steady expansion.  We are excited about the great leaps and bounds we were able to achieve, thanks to our fellows, partners, and growing community. The ground is ready for healthy cultivation of amazing and insightful Caribbean climate stories in 2024.” – Dizzanne Billy, Caribbean Regional Director

Our Regional Director – Dizzanne Billy – working hard with the Fellows in Dubai. Peep Stefanie!

“In 2023, Climate Tracker achieved significant success in its mission to support journalists from all over the world in sharing stories on climate change. Through different regional programmes, like fellowships and collaborative initiatives, Climate Tracker empowered a diverse group of journalists to be the voice of the voiceless. 2023 witnessed a surge in the quality and quantity of climate-related articles. It was a year of success—a year that Climate Tracker made significant strides in raising awareness about pressing environmental issues.”  Hipolito Novelo, Journalism Mentor

Journalism Mentor – Hipolito Novelo – met up with Fellows in Belize for lunch

“In 2023 I was proud to say I was involved in expanding the presence of Caribbean journalists into the world of audio/video podcasting through Climate Tracker. I am very much looking forward to building on that for the new year.” – Gladstone Taylor, Podcast Editor 

Our goal is to bring our vision and mission to the whole Caribbean. A big shout-out goes to our partner, the Open Society Foundations, and all the other organisations and experts. It would not be possible to have such a successful year without them. 

In Unity Against Climate Change! 

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Johannes Damodar Patak

Johannes Damodar Patak

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