Solution Hack for Journalists

Hacking Finance to End Deforestation (January-February 2022)

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At COP26 in Glasgow, world leaders from 100 countries promised to end deforestation by 2030, pledging $19+ billion in public and private funds. While this is a positive development, the deforestation rate is rising globally. As finance plays a vital role in driving and/or ending deforestation, we came up with this edition of the Solution Hack for Journalists to help you master the tools and techniques to explore the link between products, global trade and investments causing environmental destruction

What is the Solution Hack for Journalists

The Solution Hack for Journalists is a series of masterclasses for editors, journalists and reporters to deepen their understanding of the problems of today’s economy and identify solutions that enable a systemic change. It aims to prevent jumping quickly to conclusions on an issue and instead dives deep to explore what sits beneath the tip of the iceberg. The participants will explore what solutions are needed by digging deeper into the problem areas as well as the role of the media in facilitating systems shifts with other like-minded journalists from all around the world.

See the previous edition in March 2021 here.

'Hacking finance to end deforestation'

The online edition of the masterclass on 31 January, 4 and 8 February 2022 will put a spotlight on the role of finance in bringing an end to deforestation.

Our everyday products contain different commodities sourced from all around the world, and businesses have often sought ‘cheap’ materials for increased production at a lower cost. Consequently, forests are being removed for agricultural practices to produce commodities such as beef, soy and palm oil. In the case of the Amazon and in the Matopiba regions in Brazil, the loss of rainforest to cattle ranching and soybean farming is creating a vicious cycle; forest loss leads to decreases in rainfall, resulting in drier land vulnerable to fires. Consequently, biodiversity and the local population are heavily affected by these agricultural practices, directly linked to the global supply chain.

In search of answers for how to put an end to deforestation, we need to explore the role of money, in particular how finance plays a role in causing deforestation. Making use of the data-driven tools developed by the Stockholm Environmental Institute and Global Canopy, participants will carry out a mini-investigation on the supply chain of beef from Brazil, and explore which companies have committed to zero deforestation. We will then explore the possible pathways to ‘hack’ the structural issues associated with today’s finance and discuss what role journalists can play to hold those in power accountable.

For this edition, up to 20 editors, journalists and producers will be selected to participate in three Hacks (2.5 hours per Hack).


In a nutshell

  • Theme: Hacking Finance to End Deforestation 
  • Date: 31 January (Monday), 4 February (Friday) and 8 February (Tuesday) 2022   
  • Location: Online  
  • Participants: up to 20 editors, journalists and producers covering environment, science, sustainability, economy, business, urban planning, lifestyle, and consumer products. Data and investigative journalists are encouraged to apply. 
  • Fee: Free-of-charge  
  • Organiser: The Lookout Station (EFI), a science-media initiative of the European Forest Institute, in collaboration with Trase powered by the Stockholm Environmental Institute and Global Canopy 
  • Application deadline: 17 December 2021 (at 15:00 CET) 
  • Selection process: Applications will be assessed by the organiser on a rolling basis based on the selection criteria outlined below  
  • Application form

This edition of the Solution Hack for Journalists brings some of the research insights gained from NewGo! – New Ways for Forest Governance, a project of EFI’s Governance Programme funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

The Hacks

The online event consists of three hacks, and each of them helps the participants share experiences, explore problem areas and identify solutions. The participants are asked to join all three sessions outlined below.

Day 1: Deforestation Hack (Mon 31 January 2022 at 15:00-17:30 CET)

To explore a real-life example of deforestation driven by global agricultural commodity trade and how financial institutions can either directly or indirectly contribute to financing commodity-producing companies, Deforestation Hack (Day 1) will zoom into the case study of “beef” imported from Brazil. Ahead of the session, the participants will receive a self-learning package (1.5-2 hours of study time) on the case study using Trase and Forest 500 as the supporting tools. The participants will get the opportunity to explore the key actors, including the exporters, importers and financial institutions who are driving deforestation in Brazil. During Day 1, the participants will come together to discuss with the Trase engagement lead for South America on how to use Trase for journalistic research including some of the opportunities and challenges with tracking finance and commodity flows.

Day 2: Finance Hack (Fri 4 February 2022 at 15:00-17:30 CET) 

After getting a holistic overview of the issues arising from deforestation through the Brazilian case study, the Finance Hack (Day 2) will go deeper into the world of finance and its role in driving deforestation and its potential role in closing the forest finance gap. Before the interactive session, a series of short introductory videos will prepare the journalists with a big picture perspective on the intersection between finance and forests, including the challenges arising from agriculture commodity finance including the lack of investment for forest conservation, restoration, and management. We will learn about new developments in Europe, and how different actors perceive the concept of sustainable finance in relation to forests. The sessions will respond to the key question: How can finance become deforestation-free? And how can we overcome barriers and bottlenecks to increase finance for forests?

Day 3: Future Hack (Tue 8 February 2022 at 15:00-17:30 CET) 

Reflecting on the new findings and insights from the previous hacks, the Future Hack (Day 3) will put the focus back on the journalists and discuss the role media plays in facilitating sustainable shifts in our economy. The session will invite an expert journalist who has covered finance issues associated with deforestation to share their experiences and tips. By zooming out to explore the bigger role the media plays in holding companies and banks accountable, it will invite solution journalism experts focusing on the economy and business to inspire the group to shift from problem-focused reporting to solution-driven narratives. The group will then discuss which actions to take when returning to their regular routine. 

Mentors & Experts

Tiago Reis, Engagement lead for South America, Trase

Tiago has been researching and working on Brazil’s foreign policy, climate politics and policy, land-use science and policy, and sustainability in agricultural supply chains since 2009, having worked at key Brazilian civil society organizations, such as IPAM, WWF-Brazil, and the Amazon Soy Moratorium Working Group. Today, Tiago leads Trase's engagement strategy in South America, an initiative to increase the transparency and sustainability of commodity supply chains.

Scilla Alecci, Investigative Journalist and Partnership Coordinator for Asia and Europe, International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ)

Scilla Alecci is an investigative reporter and video journalist for ICIJ. She is also partnership coordinator for Asia and Europe. A native of Italy, before coming to the U.S., Scilla was based in Tokyo where she worked for Bloomberg News and other news organizations. In 2016 she was a member of the Japanese reporting team that took part in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Panama Papers investigation. Her work has also been published by the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Japanese magazine Shukan Asahi and others. 

John Tobin-de la Puente, Professor of Practice of Corporate Sustainability, S.C. Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

Dr. Tobin is a tropical ecologist and a corporate lawyer with over two decades of private sector experience, having worked in the international finance industry for much of his career. Following a decade of corporate legal practice coupled with extensive pro bono work on environmental conservation matters, he turned his full attention towards the growing area of corporate sustainability, becoming Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainability at Credit Suisse. In 2016, he left the private sector for a faculty position at Cornell University, where he now teaches corporate sustainability, environmental finance, and related topics. His research focuses on the use of financial tools to achieve socially beneficial outcomes in the areas of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. In addition, he actively engages with industry and civil society to develop financial solutions to sustainability problems, including as co-founder of the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation (CPIC). 

Emma Thomson, Forest 500 Project Manager, Global Canopy

Emma is the technical lead on the Deforestation-free Finance and Forest 500 projects. Within Deforestation-free Finance, Emma is developing detailed guidance for financial institutions to eliminate deforestation, conversion, and associated human rights abuses from their financial portfolios, and within Forest 500 Emma develops the methodologies and leads engagement with companies and financial institutions on the strength and implementation of their deforestation commitments. Before joining Global Canopy, Emma worked on corporate social responsibility and environmental coordination in think-tank and corporate contexts, including as an intern at the UN Environment Management Group in Geneva. Emma holds a BSc in Geography from Durham University, and an MSc in Global Environment, Politics, and Society from the University of Edinburgh.

Fara Warner, Initiatives Manager, Business & Sustainability, Solutions Journalism Network

Fara Warner has worked in every storytelling medium from traditional print, books, and digital publishing to virtual reality films throughout her three-decade journalism career. At SJN, she is focused on the challenge of transforming news coverage of the climate crisis from apocalyptic and unsolvable to rigorous evidence-based journalism that catalyzes communities to take action. She lives in West Shokan, N.Y. When she’s not hiking with her Australian Shepherd ‘Eros’, she loves gardening, cycling and yoga.

Danielle Carreira, Head of Finance Sector Engagement at the Tropical Forest Alliance, World Economic Forum 

Danielle Carreira is an environment, climate and sustainable finance specialist and brings nearly fifteen years' experience developing and implementing multi-stakeholder initiatives that help the global finance sector to understand and integrate environmental risks and opportunities into investment and lending processes. As Head of Finance Sector Engagement at the Tropical Forest Alliance, an initiative hosted by the World Economic Forum, she is responsible for the strategic development, implementation and coordination of a platform, that brings together public policy makers, financial institutions, global companies and commodity producers from key countries, towards an inclusive and collective action agenda to reduce deforestation and accelerate the transition towards more sustainable land use practices. 

Andrew Heald, Director and Co-Founder of NGPTA

Andrew Heald is a forestry consultant with over 20 years’ experience in sustainable forest management and has worked across the UK and in Finland, Uruguay and Ghana. Andrew is a Director and Co-Founder of NGPTA a forest restoration company with large scale projects in Brazil, Ghana and Chile.  Andrew was the Technical Director for Confor (UK Confederation of Forest Industries) from 2014 to 2019; and until recently sat on the Board of Directors for the UK Woodland Assurance Standard, and on the advisory board for the Woodland Carbon Code.  Andrew is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, and sits on UK Government’s Expert Committee on Forest Science.

Vemund Olsen, Senior Analyst - Sustainable Investments, Storebrand Asset Management

Vemund Olsen is a Senior Analyst for Sustainable Investments with Storebrand Asset Management. He covers climate, biodiversity and human rights, with a special focus on oceans and tropical forests. He has an M.Phil in Human Rights Law from the University of Oslo.

Jessica Angkasa, Programme Manager Fundraising and Investment at Partnerships For Forests/Blended Finance Taskforce, SYSTEMIQ

Jessica specialises on developing, scaling, and financing sustainable economic models for forests, agriculture, and land use sector. Currently, she leads the fundraising and investments engagement strategy for Partnerships For Forests, a programme to catalyse investments in which the private sector, public sector and communities can achieve shared value from forests and sustainable land use. Now based in the UK, she has worked in Indonesia (her home country), Brazil, and Colombia; as well as has good exposure and knowledge on the sector in the West, Central, and East Africa context.

Anna Begemann, Researcher, European Forest Institute 

Anna is a researcher in the Governance Programme of EFI Bonn and is currently conducting research on Sustainable Finance and forests. Before joining EFI in 2017, Anna has been working for several years in development cooperation on different topics of global forest governance and advising German ministries. She holds a master’s degree in political science from the Free University of Bonn. Anna is especially interested in transdisciplinary research engaging different stakeholders to learn from each other.

Yitagesu Tekle, Senior Researcher, European Forest Institute

Yitagesu Tekle is a senior researcher at the Governance Programme of the European Forest Institute (EFI). He has been working on advancing knowledge of forest governance, restoration, drivers of land-use changes and policy analysis in Africa, Asia, and Latin America for the past 12 years. Prior to joining EFI, Yitagesu worked as a natural resource expert for the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Education in Ethiopia. Yitagesu has a PhD degree in global environmental governance from the University of Helsinki, a double master’s in forest management from the University of Eastern Finland and from Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences and a master’s in agriculture business management from JNKVV, India.

  • Opportunity to explore the problems and solutions to making finance more sustainable with the experts from academia, NGOs, industries and media
  • Get hands-on training of tools developed by the Stockholm Environmental Institute and Global Canopy, including Trase and Forest500
  • Access a self-learning package to assist you in mastering the tools for journalistic research
  • Connect to journalists across the world who are dealing with similar topics
  • Collaborate with other journalists to uncover global connectivity
  • Get new ideas for future stories on the topics linked to supply chains and global investment
  • Share experiences and learn from your peers
  • Become part of the community to explore a sustainable future
  • Upon completion of the masterclass, the participants will receive a certificate from the organiser
  • You are a professional journalist with a high commitment to sustainability issues
  • You are willing to explore how journalists can facilitate positive change
  • You can dedicate time for all three Hacks
  • You are not afraid to communicate and collaborate with others in English
  • You have a video-enabled laptop, tablet or smartphone with a stable internet connection and headset/earbuds with a microphone for online meetings
  • Your newsroom editor/manager is willing to support you

Note: In case of doubt, contact Rina at

Selection Criteria

The applications will be assessed by the organiser on a rolling basis, based on the following criteria:

  • Your commitment to participate in the programme in full Your experience in covering issues related to the environment, economy and/or businesses
  • Your willingness to learn, explore and collaborate for a new impact
  • Your language skills to communicate and work in groups in English
  • Consideration of the group dynamics and geographic, gender, ethnic, cultural, linguistic diversities
  • A few seats will be allocated for past Solution Hack participants for the continuation of capacity building
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