Looking back to the Vienna Climate Arena conference

In mid-November 2023, 150 climate journalists and scientists gathered in Vienna from across Europe – from Portugal, to Norway to Turkey to Armenia – to share and collaborate in investigating the climate crisis together, at our Climate Arena Conference, organised by Arena’s Climate Network.

This was the second Climate Arena Conference we put on, after the successful trial in April in Prague, which showed the need and potential of such a gathering. This conference is a new development for Arena and our networks, as we organise Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference, but this is the first thematically focused conference we have launched, led by one of our editorial networks.

The need to focus on the big but specific topic of climate reporting is clear. Good climate reporting is crucial for our societies to understand and address a multi-faceted planetary crisis. It is cross-border and cross-disciplinary, with needs for a European perspective on national challenge, and scientific approaches to complex issues. This quickly growing field therefore needs a dedicated space to meet others, share skills, methodologies, story ideas, and build collaborations, as journalists, researchers and scientists join forces to investigate the climate crisis, and take the stories and solutions to different audiences. This is what Arena for Journalism in Europe does: facilitates cross-border collaboration.

The Climate Arena conference was brimming ideas and the seeds of collaborations. The conference featured 30 sessions over two days, with topics ranging widely from investigating carbon trading, corporate lobbying, and greenwashing, to working with activists, better engaging audiences, and setting up climate networks. Organised by journalists running the Arena Climate network, for journalists, like Dataharvest it was grounded in journalism practice: focusing of showing how, rather than showing off, with hands-on sessions sharing tools, methodologies, and hard-won best practices.

In addition to the sessions, the day before the conference the network brought together 14 journalists from 11 European countries as part of the Climate Arena fellowship. These new fellows engaged in a day of workshops and training to help them prepare their environmental & climate investigations, and develop cross-border collaborations.

At the core of this conference was a commitment to put the needs and voices of those pioneering climate journalism. As one participant said: “There was the significant emphasis placed on inclusivity in the organization of the panels. This commitment to inclusivity was evident not only in the diverse range of speakers chosen but also in the thoughtfully curated variety of topics covered. The organizers demonstrated a commendable effort to ensure that different perspectives and voices were represented, fostering a more comprehensive and enriching dialogue throughout the event.

Reflecting on the conference, Project Director of the Arena Climate Network Zeynep Şentek said: The excitement and the interest really shows there is a lot of appetite to develop a European climate journalism community and a need to serve European journalists to make it easier for them to focus on investigative, cross-border work. I am proud that we are out there doing exactly that and will continue to do so in the years to come.”

Vienna Climate Arena 2023 in numbers:

  • 150 attendees
  • Attendees from over 25 European countries
  • 60% of all participants were women
  • 65% of speakers and moderators were women
  • 28 Climate Arena Fellows in 2023 (14 starting in April, 14 in November)
  • 30 sessions over two days
  • 245 members of the climate network

About the Arena Climate Network

The Arena Climate Network is an open-access network by and for journalists. It is for those who want to focus on all aspects of the climate crisis and who want to do in-depth, investigative work, and who believe that working with colleagues one way or another makes journalism stronger Our network serves a community devoted to exposing financial greed, corruption, and government malaise that fuel the climate crisis.

Our network offers journalists a hub for collaboration, discussion and learning from each other. Among our many activities are a conference series, combined with training, a mentorship programme, and guidance for the setting up of local networks.

Find out more: climatearena.eu