Special Reporting Opportunity: Government Crackdowns on Civil Environmental Groups

Application Deadline: Sunday, December 14th

As the global environmental crisis becomes more acute–climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, and resource scarcity–many citizens are employing bold tactics to pressure their governments to act, including direct non-violent action, boycotts, and large-scale protests. But a number of governments, especially those with a deep financial stake in the status quo, have reacted by trying to muzzle citizen groups and NGOs. They’ve passed laws to shutdown activist NGOs, increase fines and jail time for protestors, and revoke the tax status of environmental charities. Such moves are not only happening in countries well-known for stamping on civil liberties, such as Russia and Ecuador, but also in countries once seen as champions of environmental protection. For example, both Australia and Canada have passed or are considering laws to make it more difficult for environmental activists to protest their government’s actions. As climate change worsens and–amid rising populations and dwindling resources–it’s likely the battle between governments and activists will only become more acute. These Special Reporting Projects will ask: why and where are governments muzzling environmental activists  and groups and how can the environment movement respond?

Potential Topics Include:

  • What are the drivers that are causing more and more governments, even so-called developed ones, to target environmental activists and groups?
  • Do countries targeting environmental groups have anything in common?
  • Does targeting environmental groups and activists constitute civil rights violations or undercut global efforts to strengthen human rights?
  • How can environmental activists and NGOs effectively move against crackdowns on their civil liberties and attempts to muzzle their voices?
  • How might this crackdown on environmental group impact the ability of global society to respond to issues such as climate change and resource scarcity?
  • How is the international community—i.e. other nations, the UN—responding to this trend? Is it even on their radar?

Please note that this Special Reporting Opportunity will be structured differently than our regular SRI program.  Be sure to follow the directions on this page to apply in the correct manner.

Mongabay will be soliciting pitches for stories related to this topic, and will accept applications for up to $3,000 to support travel costs related to your specific pitches.  Journalists can also pitch pieces that do not require travel funding. Pitches should be submitted for stories that would be published first on Mongabay, and then follow-up reporting on the topic could be sold to other outlets. Winning journalists will be paid $.10 USD per word for their content published first on Mongabay.


Journalists who wish to apply for funding must submit their application through our Special Reporting Opportunity application survey by the application deadline of December 14th, 2014.   Before filling out the survey, be ready to upload the following:

  1. 2-3 page description of your pitch, including specific information on how many articles would be written for Mongabay, their topics, the research and publication timeline, and the estimated travel costs if applicable (reminder: Mongabay will cover no more than $3,000 per journalist in story-related travel costs and not all pitches need apply for travel funding).
  2. Resume/CV
  3. 1-2 page description of your previous publication success


Email Special Projects Manager Tiffany Roufs (tiffany [at] mongabay [dot] org) with questions about this application process.