BIRN Awards Best Stories From Western Balkans on Sustainable Energy

Posted on

On December 11, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, in collaboration with the European Climate Foundation, rewarded three exceptional journalistic pieces on sustainable energy from the Western Balkans.

Photo: BIRN

The awards ceremony took place in Skopje, North Macedonia, and gathered journalists focused on environmental and energy journalism, experts, NGOs working in sustainable energy, and representatives from academia from the Western Balkan countries.

Ana Petruseva, Director of BIRN Macedonia, opened the ceremony.

“What is common for our societies is that we live in perpetual political crisis and in the sea of bad news, be it of matters regarding education health or corruption, there is little room left for these issues,” she said.

“Thus stories about the environment, climate change and sustainable energy are usually far down on the news agenda and this award and panel aim to inspire and motivate journalists to do more on these topics.

‘More stories means raising public awareness about the impact these issues have on our everyday lives and I hope that this event is one small step to incite more quality reporting on a local and regional level,” Petruseva said.

After the panel discussion, the three best journalistic pieces in the field of sustainable energy produced from October 2022 to September 2023 on topics related to sustainable energy were announced:

  1. Lirika Demiri – first prize for the story “Solar Blossoms”
  2. Katerina Topalova – second prize for “Hard winter: Is renewable energy our salvation?”
  3. Alena Beširević and Harun Dinarević – third prize for the story “Solar Boom in Stolac: Sun to me, Sun to you”

“It was my first story on the energy sector. The story tries to capture this moment when the government claimed that the solar energy is a strong pillar in the green transition but then on the ground the solar companies but also larger energy communities claimed that there are many obstacles that prevent prevent solar energy from fully blossoming,” Demiri said.

As part of the ceremony, journalists and experts discussed a “news media and sustainable energy, focused on ‘what’s next for energy journalism”:

  • Katerina Topalova, journalist at North Macedonian National Television
  • Kreshnik Gashi Head of the Planning Desk and Managing Editor at, BIRN Kosovo
  • Vladimir Spasić, Journalist at Balkan Green Energy News Belgrade, Serbia
  • Eleonora Allena, Communication Coordinator at Climate Action Network Europe
  • Egzona Shala, Executive Director at EcoZ
  • Ivana Milicevic, Project Coordinator at Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute
  • Moderator: Alenka Lena Klopčič, Comms Consultant for Western Balkans, Croatia & Slovenia at European Climate Foundation

The panelists highlighted the importance of mutual cooperation between journalists and the expert community. They emphasized the importance of addressing challenges, embracing diverse perspectives, tracing the evolution of energy reporting, nurturing collaboration between experts and journalists, and actively engaging audiences through informative discussions to drive impactful action towards a sustainable future.

The total prize fund for this year was €6,000. The first prize winner received €3,000, the second received €2,000, and the third €1,000.

These awards started in 2022, then organized by the School of Advanced Social Studies. This year, the project was implemented by BIRN with support from the European Climate Foundation.

The project Sustainable Energy Journalism Award for Western Balkans 2023 aims to make society more aware of climate change and the need and role of energy transition in addressing it.

It intends to support the production of news and investigations related to sustainable energy and provide recognition to journalists working in this field.