By Nalaka Gunawardene in Naples, Italy
India’s Down to Earth magazine was presented with the first Greenaccord International Media Award at an international conference held in Naples, Italy, last week.
The award, newly established by the Rome-based non-profit group Greenaccord, recognises outstanding media contributions to covering issues of environment and sustainable development.
Tommaso Sodano, deputy mayor of the City of Naples, presented the award at the conclusion of the 10th Greenaccord International Media Forum held from 6 to 9 November 2013.
“We asked all our Asian colleagues for nominations for this inaugural award, and many of them recommended Down to Earth magazine that has covered sustainability issues from a developing country perspective for 21 years,” said Alfonso Cauteruccio, President of Greenaccord.
Down to Earth is a fortnightly magazine focusing on issues of science and environment. It is published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a leading research and advocacy group in India. Founded by leading journalist and activist Anil Agarwal in May 1992, it provides reportage, analysis and commentary on a broad range of issues related to environment and development.
From the beginning, the magazine has challenged its readers to think about sustainable development. It inspires and encourages its readers to become more environment-friendly.
Darryl D’Monte, senior Indian journalist and a former editor of the Times of India, accepted the award on behalf of Down to Earth editors and publishers.
“Anil Agarwal was a trail-blazing journalist who combined knowledge and advocacy. Down to Earth, launched just before the Earth Summit in Rio in mid 1992, reflects that vision,” D’Monte said in his acceptance speech.
D’Monte recalled how Agarwal and CSE played a key role in the early days of global climate negotiations, especially in focusing global attention on per capita emissions of global warming greenhouse gases.
“Climate change is as much politics as it is science, and Anil was well aware of that. He approached all debates well armed with statistics, analysis and a southern perspective, which is also the Down to Earth magazine’s approach to issues,” he added.
Down to Earth presents accessible content intended for interested non-specialists including policy makers. Articles are often investigative, in-depth, all presented in well edited and designed form. In recent years, it has developed an extensive website at www.downtoearth.org.in.
The magazine has been an important vehicle for many CSE campaigns in the public interest, including its exposes on pesticide residues in popular soft drinks and bottled water brands, and agitation for cleaner air in Delhi and other metropolitan areas in India.
CSE’s right to clean air campaign resulted in New Delhi becoming the world’s first city to introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) for all public transport vehicles, D’Monte said.
Greenaccord is a non-profit association, headquartered in Rome, and founded to be of service to the world of information and training that deals with environmental issues. The association is made up of journalists and professionals who volunteer their time to provide training to their colleagues.
Since 2003, Greenaccord organises an annual gathering of journalists and scientists concerned about sustainability – which has become one of the largest such gatherings taking place on a regular basis.