This summer, I had the privilege of working with several healthcare workers in Liberia and Sierra Leone to bring a more personal perspective to the situation on the ground in West Africa. The need to rebuild after the Ebola epidemic is something that will continue well after the soundbites are done; these heroes are in need of more training, actual salaries, and reinforcements.
The giant armadillo and the bulldozer both frequent the Gran Chaco in South America. Although both are armored, one only destroys termite mounds. The other destroys the forest itself–and the lives of those who live there.
The Gran Chaco is the starting point for a piece I produced and placed in Al Jazeera’s online Opinion portal that discusses the importance of forests in the context of the latest round of climate change negotiations.
Yosemite National Park is my candidate for the most idyllic place in the world. Yet, at this point in time, the tragedy of its bloody history has been mostly lost.
In a piece I produced and placed in the Thomson Reuters Foundation blog, this history is a starting point for a discussion on how parks and protected areas should include, not exclude, the people who live in these places.
Downstream from the suspended Pascua-Lama mine, in Chile’s Atacama Region (Credit: Alturas Oceanicas)
The lure of precious metals and other natural resources has long been a source of conflict in Latin America, from the Andes to the Amazon and most everywhere else. But new research has begun to put a price tag on this conflict, and investors have started to respond. When the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples are uprooted by large-scale mining developments, their opposition is driving up the cost of these developments, a point that is finally starting to get noticed in corporate financial statements.
In April 2013, I produced and placed an opinion piece for Samuel Nguiffo, the Secretary General of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) in Cameroon. Using his own country as an example, Samuel’s op-ed discussed how the “Land Grab” taking place in Africa was more of a “giveaway” where governments at all levels were providing multinational corporations with their country’s natural resources for very little compensation. Research from Rights and Resources Initiative showed that the communities that live on the land involved in these transactions lost out repeatedly. The opinion piece ran online at http://aje.me/17z1mpk.
Looking out over a new oil palm plantation in Liberia. Credit: Dan Klotz
In December, I spent a week in Liberia with an Agence France Presse (AFP) reporter exploring two large-scale land acquisitions in which the Liberian government turned over large swaths of land for oil palm and rubber plantations, ignoring the rights of the communities that live on the land. The trip was part of the outreach work I have been doing for Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
Underlining the dire problems confronting these communities, four people with whom we visited were arrested shortly after we left.
After the trip, the AFP reporter filed two feature-length stories detailing the difficulties inherent in these transactions (http://bit.ly/YaJ0G4 and http://f24.my/UhCU62). Last week, my photos from the trip were featured in a slide show on AllAfrica.com (http://j.mp/15CeiZC) that highlighted two new reports from RRI.
Stepped farming in Paro, Bhutan (Credit: Soham Banerjee)
The small kingdom of Bhutan is known for establishing the “gross national happiness” tool, a “multidimensional measurement” that looks at its citizens’ quality of life and well-being. Lately, it has been making waves for its government’s ambition to become the first 100% organic country in the world. More on National Geographic’s NewsWatch blog. http://on.natgeo.com/15kgyW0
In September 2012, I produced an opinion piece authored by President Joyce Banda of Malawi that ran on CNN.com. The piece, which was timed to coincide with the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, discussed the importance of education and gender empowerment in setting international goals for economic development. To read the piece, click here.
This week, the Senate began debating the “Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012,”the latest name for the Farm Bill. This legislation comes up for renewal every five years, and the back-and-forth always been larger than life and somewhat crazy. More at National Geographic’s NewsWatch blog. http://bit.ly/KvoPiw