Green Echoes #8

Key investigative stories, data sources, funding/training opportunities and our projects from across Asia.

Dear friends and supporters,

Welcome to Green Echoes, a newsletter from the Environmental Reporting Collective that highlights key investigative stories, data sources, funding, reporting and training opportunities and our projects from across Asia.

“This is the single greatest measure that could be taken to save the pangolins.”

That's Peter Knights, the CEO of WildAid, speaking to National Geographic in response to the measures China took this week to better safeguard pangolins. 

Two things happened:

  1. China upgraded the protection status of pangolins to level 1 on its national list. This effectively centralizes the permit system that allows for the use of pangolin scales in medicine, and goes a long way in closing a legal loophole.

  2. China removed pangolin scales from its list of approved ingredients for Traditional Chinese Medicine. This should curb demand. 

There's a broader analysis in this week's Chinese-language edition of this newsletter.  

Conversation Series in Malaysia

A reminder that you can meet a real pangolin tomorrow. Our first experiment in virtual conversations will be with Corona, Malaysia's first captive-born baby pangolin. It will take place this week on June 11, 8pm Kuala Lumpur Time (1pm London, 8AM New York). 


(We created Zoom background images and WhatApp stickers for the occasion. You can find them here.)

The second conversation — Can farming pangolins curb its illegal trade? — is on June 18. You can already RSVP and add it to your calendar. 

Here's the full schedule.

I'd be grateful for your feedback. Respond and let us know what you think and if you'd be interested in hosting similar conversations where you are. 

This week’s best reporting from across Asia

As you probably know, our origin was investigating the global trade in pangolins, involving 40 journalists from 15 countries and territories.  That investigation showed that global supply chains are increasingly transnational and complex, and a treasure trove of stories. 

Other examples: this piece published by Mongabay found that timber traders were seeking to evade European Union laws on teak from Myanmar via a Croatian company, while this story by Robin Hicks in Eco-Business highlights how, Chinese-produced virgin plastic is being sold abroad as recycled plastic, a failure of supply chain certification and oversight. 

(Here's a great webinar recording on reporting on supply chains.) 

Overfishing in the Bay of Bengal, which includes the Exclusive Economic Zones of India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, does not get as much attention as the South China Sea, but there are challenges there too. In this piece for China Dialogue Ocean, Mohammad Arju writes about the rise in arrests of fisherman crossing territorial waters, the challenge of enforcing fishing bans, and why regional enforcement instruments are still insufficient.

Podcasts worth listening to: New Naratif's latest episode of Political Agenda focuses on environmental education and how we teach ourselves and our children how to adapt to the ongoing climate crisis. Sustainable Asia's latest is on the Drink without Waste coalition in Hong Kong, looking to reduce plastic use from the grassroots.

Data inspiration for your reporting

Satellite data is increasingly accessible, and can illuminate environmental trends - even if you're stuck at home during lockdown. Take, for example, this piece published earlier this week in Mongabay, which found that illegal fishing actually rose during the Covid-19 lockdown, as fishers took advantage of reduced patrols. 

Here are some free, accessible satellite data sources that can be used to monitor what's happening at sea in your country or region.

  • Resource Watch has an ocean dashboard that includes data on global shipping, coral reefs, fishing markets, and much more.

Is there a new resource you’d like us to highlight? Let me know by responding to this email.

Trainings and resources

The ADM Capital Foundation and several partners have just launched a campaign focused on ending wildlife crime, focused on addressing gaps in international law that allow crime to thrive. See their ambitious plan here.

Some of what they're calling for is reflected in this piece by John Sellar at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime. He argues for a radical rethink away from blanket wildlife trade bans and towards a focus on the role of criminal organizations in wildlife trafficking.

Brush up on digital security! Free Press Unlimited and Greenhost have created an online platform for journalists to improve their skills around digital safety and privacy.

And in case you missed it, the Earth Journalism Network's webinar "What the Climate Crisis Looks Like in a Covid-Altered World" is now on YouTube, as are all of the Covid-19-related webinars that the Global Investigative Journalism Network have held in the past few months. 

The Media Impact Forum is holding a series of online discussions all this month on philanthropy's role in amplifying media efforts to address climate change. The first one on support and security for activists, indigenous communities, and journalists, is on June 11.

Google News Initiative is holding their second series of data journalism and visualization webinars, aimed at beginners, starting on June 16. They'll be in English, Malay, and Chinese. Register here.

Are you hosting a training or have a great resource you want to feature here? Let me know. 


Reminder: the deadline for Money Trail –- projects that investigate cross-border illicit financial flows, tax abuse, money laundering and corruption in Africa, Asia and Europe — is on June 15. You'll need to submit applications with journalists from another region. Apply here.

The McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism is accepting applications for their summer fellowship program. They award grants of up to $15,000 support high-impact, ambitious coverage of critical issues related to the global economy, finance and business (Deadline July 17).

If you’d like to highlight a funding opportunity, let me know by responding to this email.

That's all for this week. I look forward to seeing some of you at our full moon party on Thursday. And for those of you who can read Chinese, the second edition of 绿色回声 (our Chinese-language newsletter) is out. Take a look, and do share with your colleagues.

Stay safe and healthy,

Nithin Coca

P.S. Congratulations to Tin Htet Paing of Myanmar Now and Xu Jiaming, our lead reporter in China, for winning an Environmental Reporting Award from the Yangon Journalism School and Forest Trends, part of our investigation of the pangolin trade in the country.

The Environmental Reporting Collective is a group of reporters and editors across Asia and elsewhere, working together to rethink how environmental journalism is done. We support collaborative journalism projects that start new conversations on how our societies impact our planet. Such stories are complex and expensive. That’s why they require new approaches to research, reporting, editing and distribution.

To learn more about our work, check out our website, Investigative.Earth, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also let us know what you would like to see in this newsletter by responding to this email.