21 Sep Lani Young of Samoa Planet – a COP23 Journalism competition winner

15 July, Samoa – Samoa Planet editor and co-founder Lani Wendt Young is a winner of the UNFCCC secretariat journalism competition for Pacific island media.

As one of 10 “outstanding journalists” selected from the Pacific, Ms Young will receive sponsored participation in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn Germany (COP 23, 4th – 19thNovember 2017) where she will have access to United Nations and other experts, and report from the event. Articles written by the winners at the conference will feature on the UNFCCC and COP23 Presidency websites.

As part of the prize package, Ms Young will also attend a journalism workshop at the prestigious DW Akademie which is Germany’s leading provider of international media training.

Organized by the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, and fully funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the competition was open to Pacific Island journalists with an interest in Climate Change.

In a UNFCCC press release announcing the winners, Nick Nuttall, Director of Communications of the UNFCCC and Spokesperson for COP23, said, “We are impressed by the high standard of the entries to the competition and would have liked to invite everyone who submitted their work under the competition, but that is unfortunately not possible. We’re now looking forward to welcoming the 10 winners in Bonn in November.”

The decision to hold a Pacific island journalism competition reflects the important role that Fiji will be playing at the 23rdConference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – the official title of the conference.

Fiji will be presiding over COP23 and the Fijian Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, will undertake the key role of COP President on behalf of all countries attending.

John Connor, the Executive Director of the Fijian COP23 Presidency Secretariat said,  “Thanks to the generous support of the German Government, this is a wonderful opportunity for ten journalists to attend the foremost international conference on climate change, an issue of absolute priority in the region.”

“Joining the world’s media in Bonn, they will be able to tell the story of how the world is responding to this escalating crisis from the Pacific perspective – ensuring that Pacific voices are heard. They will also bring the experience and training they gain home with them, boosting the standard of climate reporting across the Pacific.”

Applicants to the competition had to submit two articles written over the past year which covered climate change issues in the Pacific.

Ms Young’s first article, ‘We must ask our friend to do better’, was an editorial critiquing Australia’s stance on fossil fuel mining at home vs their aid funding of climate change mitigation projects in Samoa.

The second was, ‘The Heart of who we are’, a feature length piece on the Faleaseela Environment Protection Society and their work to conserve the Liua le Vai o Sina river, a Global Environment Fund Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) funded project.

Ms Young said, “It’s a privilege for me to be able to share the stories of those doing such valuable climate change and environmental protection work. I’m grateful for this opportunity to represent Samoa media at COP23 and excited to learn more about how to improve as an environmental journalist.”

Ms. Young is an award-winning writer, blogger and columnist, and the author of the international bestselling TELESA Series and the SCARLET LIES Series. This is her first journalism competition.

Samoa Planet is an online news media site established in October 2016 by co-founders Tuiloma Sina Retzlaff and Lani Wendt Young.

The winners were selected by a judging committee consisting of two members of the UNFCCC; two from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs communications branch; and two independent judges representing the Fijian COP23 Presidency.

The jury selected six winners from print and online, two from radio and two from TV.

The winners are:

Print and Online

  • Ofani Eremae (Solomon Star, Solomon Islands)
  • Iliesa Tora (The Nuku’alofa Times, Tonga)
  • Lani Wendt Young (Samoa Planet, Samoa)
  • Jared Koli (The Island Sun, Solomon Islands)
  • Lice Movono (The Fiji Times, Fiji)
  • Anita Roberts (Vanuatu Daily Post, Vanuatu)


  • Mereoni Mili (Wansolwara – University of the South Pacific, Fiji)
  • Georgina Kekea (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, Solomon Islands)


  • Elenoa Turagaiviu (FBC News, Fiji)
  • Florence Jonduo (EMTV, Papua New Guinea)
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