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Pulitzer Center Update April 26, 2021

Connecting With a Global Audience at Environment (Re)Defined

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Environment (Re)Defined logo.
Environment (Re)Defined, the 2021 Pulitzer Center annual conference.

A global audience gathered for the Pulitzer Center’s first virtual conference, Environment (Re)Defined.

We heard from more than 50 deeply knowledgeable, insightful speakers. We were grateful to provide—and participate in—such a rich experience that allowed us to come together during these difficult times.

Our conference audience over the four days came from 90 countries—nearly half the countries in the world—and the journalists and guest speakers in our 13 conference sessions brought community, country, and regional expertise across multiple time zones, from Indonesia, Brazil, and Cameroon to the southern United States and places in between. 

Still, they covered only a fraction of the Pulitzer Center’s reporting on the environment that we’ve supported over the last 15 years.

“Those 15 years have seen dizzying about-faces in government policies and the relentless accumulation of proof link human-caused climate change to rising seas, bigger and worse storms, mass migrations, and the consequential explosion of xenophobia populsist revolts across much of the globe,” Executive Director Jon Sawyer said in the conference’s opening session. “Proof as well that environmental degradation too often goes hand in hand with systemic racism, discrimination based on gender, and the suppression of the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

Our conference focused on these issues and more—including breakthrough developments in data journalism, cross-platform, cross-newsroom, and cross-border collaborations we’ve spearheaded, and new Pulitzer Center initiatives such as Connected Coastlines, the Rainforest Journalism Fund, and the Rainforest Investigations Network

We also had time to process the work of the journalists we support and the issues they surface through a workshop reflecting on climate change through poetry. Out of that workshop came a collaborative ecopoem for our Environment (Re)Defined conference, reflecting several reporting projects from around the world:

And everywhere is state-certified

low lying, low income.

Profit-driven trade leaves a bitter taste

on limpened tongues.

The contours of the city’s parks

offer sweet shade and breeze,

luxuriant respite from the sidewalk-pavement-

highrise-heat. Stepping out

the front door to an unnamed stillwater sea.

It’s a waterfront property

when the flooding happens. Rain or shine

the old threat returns.

Donning hip waders and sterile gloves

we sort through a behemoth

of green space. Jade gemstones—beautiful

yet deathly. Rivers, streams,

and creeks are upside-down, shifted into chaos.

The coyote called for us that night

confused by where it ended and day broke,

searching in vain for kites

floating in dark where there was hope.

Like a single thin black nylon sack 

like bloated bellies before The Great Soak—

We created short videos to share on social media and all sessions are available via our Webinars On-Demand page. Among those we heard from during the conference who shared their reporting and their insights:

Filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies—whose most recent documentary with Robert Flummerfelt focuses on the environmental and health-related cost of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo—expressed the hope that with more and more attention to clean energy and electric cars maybe this is the year that mining’s dangerous legacy could change, and there can be an end to the poisoning of the environment in the name of technological advances.

We are thankful to the journalists we support and our audience. Much thanks also to all of our colleagues at the Pulitzer Center: working to consider our guiding questions for this conference months ago, reaching out to our speakers, coordinating multiple time zones for prep sessions, running the production and post-production side and making it all come together seamlessly.

If you missed a session, wish to revisit a conversation or share with others, all conference sessions are available on our YouTube channel

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