Mongabay receives prestigious 2023 Biophilia Award for Environmental Communication in Madrid

Macaws fly over the rainforests of Peru. Image by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.

In 2023, Mongabay had the honor of being awarded the prestigious Biophilia Award for Environmental Communication for its “outstanding track record” in communicating issues related to nature and biodiversity, especially in countries in the Global South. On Feb.19, 2024, Mongabay attended the Biophilia Award ceremony at the BBVA Foundation in Madrid, Spain.

According to the selection committee, Mongabay “successfully makes the connection between science and journalism by disseminating research on environmental protection and making studies available under conditions of maximum access.” This has enabled Mongabay “to highlight specific situations or serious environmental problems affecting communities that tend to be overlooked by mainstream news sources.”

Members of the Mongabay team received the 2023 Biophilia Award for Environmental Communication from Rafael Pardo Avellaneda, the director of the BBVA Foundation. Image courtesy of the BBVA Foundation.

Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler, who won the 2022 Heinz Award for the Environment for his efforts to advance environmental journalism worldwide, said he believes environmental journalism is increasingly relevant to people’s current lives since “we are all experiencing firsthand the effects of climate change, pollution, or habitat loss.”

I]t’s really important for environmental journalists to put these impacts in a context that explains why they are happening,” Butler said in a statement to the BBVA Foundation. “We are a translation service between the scientists and their data and what people are observing with their own eyes. And this is of great value both in informing the public and possibly leading them to change their behavior.”

Reasons for hope in the face of the global environmental crisis

Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler giving his lecture, “Reasons for Hope in the Face of the Global Environmental Crisis,” at the BBVA Foundation. Image courtesy of the BBVA Foundation.

After receiving the award, Butler delivered a lecture titled “Reasons for Hope in the Face of the Global Environmental Crisis,” during which he emphasized solutions journalism, which aims to present not only the challenges of environmental issues, but also the solutions and hopeful advancements, to prevent despair and promote action among readers.

“By presenting these success stories, we aim not just to inform, but to empower. Maintaining hope and optimism is vital in the face of daunting environmental challenges,” Butler said during the session. “These sentiments fuel the creativity needed for new technologies, strategies and approaches. Solutions journalism plays a critical role in fostering this hope by showcasing how challenges can be, and are being, overcome. This approach doesn’t just report on problems; it illuminates the path forward.”


Continuing Mongabay’s mission

Receiving the Biophilia Award is a testament to Mongabay’s mission, which is to improve the understanding of the global-scale forces undermining the health of Earth’s systems and to make science accessible while elevating the voices and knowledge of people directly impacted by environmental change. The BBVA’s generosity reaffirms Mongabay’s commitment to pursuing narratives of truth and fact from nature’s frontline.

“The path ahead is undoubtedly challenging. However, with relentless pursuit of truth and a focus on solutions, journalism has the power to do more than just document the state of our world; it can help transform it for the better,” Butler said. “This mission, at its core, is an act of hope — a belief in the capacity of informed action to create a more sustainable, equitable world for generations to come.”

About the BBVA Foundation’s Biophilia Award

The Biophilia Award was launched in 2019 by the BBVA Foundation, the charitable arm of one of Spain’s biggest banks, to recognize the work of professionals and organizations working to improve public understanding of ecological issues by disseminating scientific knowledge and sharing new perspectives. The award comes with a cash prize of 100,000 euros ($108,000). This initiative reflects the foundation’s belief in the power of effective communication to mobilize ecological knowledge and awareness worldwide.