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.
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.
A new rush on land in developing countries is trampling land rights in impoverished communities. Over the past five years, the Liberian government sold or leased more than one third of the country’s land for logging, mining, and agriculture. The government of South Sudan ceded control of nine percent of the new nation’s lands even before announcing its independence. http://bit.ly/xm828y
Maps prepared by Population Action International overlay data on populations with high growth rates and low resilience to climate change.
“The environment does not exist as a sphere separate from human actions, ambitions, and needs, and attempts to defend it in isolation from human concerns have given the very word ‘environment’ a connotation of naivety in some political circles.”
It’s now 2012, and a new Earth Summit is being prepared for June of this year. But what progress has been made in sustainable development in the past two decades, and how can you answer the problems without looking at the growing population? In my next piece for NationalGeographic.com, I take a look at how these questions were addressed at an Aspen Institute event this past Thursday. http://bit.ly/xtJndW