The Young Reporters for the Environment contest run by the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection recognized 19 stories by high school and university students in three different categories: photo, written and video.
The 2021-2022 academic year was that of the Young Reporters for the Environment contest’s 20th edition, brought to Morocco by the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection, chaired by HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa, in partnership with the Ministry of National Education, Preschool and Sports. For 20 years now, this competition designed by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) has proved enormously successful. Over 150,000 young people from all school districts took part in the competition, and their submissions received a total 31 awards at the international competition.
Much of this success stems from the competition’s format, which enables young people to become active players in the environment for the duration of their story. The competition provides students the opportunity to work on specific topics each year, and with the support of a teacher, conduct field investigations using journalistic techniques, then analyze, document and suggest possible remedies. The competition broadens young people’s environmental awareness and instills positive and constructive attitudes.
The Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection picked a crucial theme for this 20th edition: “Sustainable ecosystems for a healthy planet”. The scope and breadth of the issue, as mobilization against climate change becomes vital to young generations, only galvanized young participants.
Over 400 institutions, including universities, from all Kingdom 12 school districts engaged in investigative journalism into local ecosystems, submitting 168 written, 634 photo and 236 video stories.
These looked at bee disappearance, cork oak forests depletion in Maamora and the same for thuriferous juniper in Tounfite, red algae in the Atlantic as well as agricultural impact on ecosystems (Saffron in Taliouine and olive trees in Sidi Slimane). Wetlands also attracted interest, including the Oued Martil still waters, Oualidia Lake and the Moulouya River (see list of award winners).
A number of photo reports expressed young people’s anxiety in the face of climate change, as evidenced in some of the titles: “Deep sorrow overwhelms me” or “Cry for help”.
This work raised student awareness to ecosystems vulnerability, the marvels of nature where billions of interactions among the most diverse living beings harmoniously interweave, from fauna to flora, from the smallest organisms such as bacteria or fungi to large mammals that live on or in the earth, water or air.
Stories produced raised student awareness and inspired them to action. Raising the awareness of younger generations, who today need to take responsibility for preserving the planet, is at the core of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection’s action. The Foundation worked to gradually expand the range of age groups targeted. Starting with high school students, the program gradually expanded to include middle school students, and today, for the 20th edition, a new age group, 19- to 25-year-olds, is open to students, notably as part of the African Green University and Youth Education Network (AGUYEN), implemented by the Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). As a matter of fact, a Moroccan student was the first to take part in the new “International Collaboration” category, in collaboration with a Malaysian student.
This 20th edition produced such an extensive body of work, that the jury of the competition had to deliberate for three days, from Thursday, May 5 to Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Hassan II International Center for Environmental Training, the academic arm of the Foundation, to assess the 1,038 stories, from all three categories. In closing of this extensive session, the jury rewarded seven photo reports, six written stories and six video stories, two of which came from first-time university student participants.
The jury of the competition also listed seven contributions to the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) international competition which rewards the work of young reporters worldwide and where Morocco’s contributions have often been honored.