Elevating Environmental Consciousness in MENA:
The Role of Innovative Fact-Checking in Promoting Sustainable Awareness

Rim's Journey from Journalism to Environmental Advocacy

Rim bin Khalifa, a dedicated journalist, set sail on a journey through the Leaders International Digital Innovations for Peace project (DIP). Her innovative creation, the “Ecolo” fact-check application, serves as a powerful example of the transformative power of ideas in combating environmental misinformation and making the way for positive change across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Ecolo is a user-friendly platform combating environmental misinformation. It utilises citizen science, where users contribute data, then verified by experts, and presented in an engaging format. Ecolo explores topics like climate change, biodiversity, and pollution categorised by regions and types. The application aims to bridge the awareness gap in North Africa and the Middle East, providing accurate and credible environmental insights. 
Grounded in citizen and journalist responsibility, Rim points out the potential for ideas to bring about global transformation. Her vision for the Ecolo fact-check application seeks to empower everyday individuals, enabling their active involvement in scientific research and ensuring the reliable and trustworthy circulation of environmental information.
The decision to implement this vision in the form of an application was a carefully considered step, grounded in strategic design thinking. Rim reflects, “Ideas have the potential to transform the world. It’s not just about what we think, but how we bring those thoughts to life that truly makes a difference.” Recognising the accessibility and user-friendly nature of apps, she envisioned a platform that offered diverse media types, catering to the varied preferences of its users. By employing media formats such as images, videos, explanatory articles, and interactive maps, the application ensures full exploration of environmental and climate sectors. 
Rim’s inspiration for the project rose from her experience and interest in the environmental field. “Our journey to create change is also a journey of self-discovery.” Guided by a passion for transformation, she noticed a gap in the environmental information landscape and seized the opportunity to fill it. The absence of a similar project in the MENA region sparked the birth of the Ecolo fact-check application.
Acknowledging the initial technical challenges, Rim reflects on the nature of overcoming setbacks. She talks about how the technical hurdles were met with teamwork and guidance of diverse expertise, leading to the development of a durable solution. Design thinking played a significant role, enabling the team to transform their core idea into a prototype.
She holds the idea that “the strength of a society lies in its ability to uplift those who need it the most,” highlighting the Ecolo fact-check application’s focus on addressing vulnerabilities, particularly among women. The app’s short-term impact aims to empower communities during environmental crises, encouraging a mindset shift among the younger generation and insisting on the importance of tangible change.
To sustain the application, Rim envisions a two-way strategy. Firstly, she plans to create a virtual marketplace within Ecolo promoting eco-friendly products, to ensure the sustainability of the application. This not only promotes sustainability, but also supports local communities; especially women engaged in environmentally friendly activities like handcrafts and organic produce. Secondly, Rim sees the potential in user data, suggesting a model similar to social media platforms. In an advanced stage, the journalist mentions the app’s potential aim to collect verified information, possibly leading to the development of studies and collaborations with civil society in the MENA region. She states, “our shared goal unites us, enabling collaborative efforts towards a common objective.
For Rim, lasting change in the MENA region goes hand in hand with challenging the public’s mentalities; “true liberation begins within ourselves. Change is not simply a shift in laws or policies; it’s a transformation of mindset that liberates us and empowers societies at all levels.” Her strategy involves media-driven education, freeing minds from established practices within social constructs that disrupt green awareness.

The DIP Project's Impact on Ecolo

The discovery of the DIP project through Facebook opened a door of opportunity for Rim, showcasing the potential of social media platforms in connecting individuals with transformative initiatives. According to Rim, the hackathon drew attention to the importance of identifying strengths and weaknesses personally as well as her competitors’. Mentorship, alongside her background in market research and familiarity with digital solutions, contributed to the advancement of the project. Rim also mentioned how the hackathon suggested the use of tools such as artificial intelligence to combat media misinformation, ultimately securing its position among the top three projects in the competition. This diverse skill set allowed Rim to navigate the complexities of misinformation in the environmental field effectively. 

Expressing gratitude for the opportunity provided by the DIP project, Rim recognises its role in shaping the development course of the Ecolo application. Through her perseverance and innovative spirit, Rim stands as a lighthouse in the sea, offering guidance to environmental awareness and empowering communities in the MENA region.

The Leaders International-led project, DIP, aims to nurture the resilience of societies in the MENA region. Selected initiatives have received backing for innovative media campaigns, contributing to the region’s media viability amid ongoing digital transformation. Entrepreneurs, activists, and media professionals have the opportunity to utilise innovative media literacy solutions to focus on combating disinformation. The project has established a cross-regional network and supported high-quality reporting on conflict-related topics.

Learn more about DIP: https://leadersinternational.org/projects/dip-digital-innovations-for-peace/