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Call for Applications: Latin America and Caribbean Regional Media Workshop on Land Degradation, Desertification and Drought 30 January – 1 February 2013, Sobral, Brazil

The UNCCD secretariat is organizing a three-day regional media workshop for journalists in the Latin American region on 30 January – 1 February 2013 in Sobral, Ceará State, Brazil, during the First Scientific Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative on Science and Technology (ILACCT). The Media Workshop takes place back-to-back with the UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference and the 3rd Special Session of the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology (CST-S3), which will take place on 4-7 February 2013 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

The UNCCD secretariat invites applications for sponsorship to attend the workshop from environmental journalists from the Latin America and Caribbean region with an interest in the issues of land degradation, desertification and drought. The deadline for the submission of the application is midnight, Central Standard Time, 07 December 2012 (or 06:00GMT 08 December 2012). The terms and conditions for applicants are spelled out below. 

- Deepen the knowledge and expertise of environmental journalists on land degradation, drought and desertification
- Increase media coverage about the challenges of land degradation and best practices of sustainable land management in the Latin America and Caribbean Region
- Raise awareness about the three conferences taking place in Brazil
- Build a global community of journalists, writing regularly about combating desertification, land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought.

Desertification, contrary to popular perception, is not the loss of land to desert, but land degradation in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid areas, resulting from climatic variations and human activity. It affects the livelihoods of rural people who depend on livestock, crops, scarce water resources and fuel wood. Each year an estimated 75 billion tons of fertile soil are lost, a significant loss because the world’s most significant non-renewable resource is productive land.

Land degradation and desertification are major threats to life on earth. They affect 1.5 billion people globally, and undercut food and water security. However, practical solutions exist at many levels and are being successfully employed by communities around the world. More than 2 million hectares of land are suitable for rehabilitation through forest and landscape restoration. This is an opportunity to reduce poverty, increase food production, reduce climate change and conserve biodiversity. World leaders at the Rio + 20 Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, agreed to move towards a land-degradation neutral world, where every hectare of land that is degraded is offset by restoring  a hectare of degraded land, ideally in the same ecosystem.

Mass media plays a powerful role in shaping public opinion, and is indispensable in reaching out to the public, influencing policy, and promoting innovation. The media workshop in Brazil is an opportunity for journalists in the Latin America and Caribbean region to interact with world renown experts on these issue, who will be gathering in Fortaleza the subsequent week. It will be an opportune moment too for journalists to report on the outcomes of the Scientific Conference, where experts and researchers will focus on a most timely theme: Economic assessment of desertification, sustainable land management and resilience of arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. Field trips to the affected regions and presenting best practices of land management will also take place.

The regional media workshop complements the UNCCD's regional medial workshops for Asia and Francophone Africa, held in May 2012, in China and Algeria, respectively. The workshops are designed to build a global network of environmental journalists monitoring and reporting on changes in the status of productive land in all parts of the world. Regional media workshops for Anglophone Africa and Central and Eastern Europe are envisioned for the future. Information and reports from the Asia and Africa regional media workshops is available here.

Submissions are open to all journalists from across the Latin America and Caribbean regions who report on environmental and/or environmental economics issues. Prospective candidates should submit, in English:
- Two by-lined articles (print, online, radio or TV reports), at least one of which is on land degradation, drought or desertification.  Articles written in a language other than English should be accompanied by a short summary in English.
- A letter from the journalists supervising editor, committing to publish the journalists’ articles
- A one-page motivation letter from the applicant:
a. Setting out the journalist’s interest in taking part in the workshop
b. outlining previous reporting on the topics listed above
c. stating the number of articles s/he will publish following the workshop as well as the provisional time for publication.

Workshop Overview and Program
Selected journalists will participate in a 3-day workshop, which will include meetings with land experts and a field trip showcasing both the challenges of land degradation and the best practices of combating it. Two weeks after the workshop, the journalists will be asked to submit their articles and reportages, which will be also featured on the UNCCD website.

The costs for accommodation, food and the workshop for 15 participants will be covered by the ILACCT Conference organizers. Full sponsorship (including travel) will be provided for four of the most competitive journalists from the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Self-financed participants will be eligible to participate, but must also submit their applications and meet the stipulated conditions.
Participants will be issued with invitation letters, as required, for visa and other travel purposes, but participants will be responsible for making the necessary travel arrangements, including visas, health certificates and travel insurance. To this end, the organizers will confirm the sponsorship of the journalist selected no later than 21 December 2012.

The workshop organizers will provide transportation to Fortaleza for journalists that can already self-sponsor. However, additional resources are being sought to support the participants to attend the UNCCD conferences that will follow in Fortaleza.

Time and Venue
The media workshop in Latin America will take place from 30 January – 1 February 2013 in Sobral, Brazil. The working language of the workshop is English. The UNCCD Conferences will take place on 4-7 February 2012, in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Deadline for Applications
Complete applications should be sent to until 07.12.2012 with the following subject line: Application for Media Workshop in Latin America. Shortlisted candidates will be notified by 12 December 2012. Shortlisted candidates must indicate their commitment to participate in the Sobral Workshop by 14 December 2012 (and to the Fortaleza workshop for those needing transportation). The final list of participants will be issued no later than 21 December 2012.

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