The intense white brightness of the salt flats interrupts the arid monotony of the Puna in northwest Argentina, resembling postcards from the moon. Beneath its surface are concealed the world's largest reserves of lithium, the key mineral in the transition to clean energy, the mining of which has triggered controversy.
As the COP25 deliberations enter the decisive final week, representatives of environmental and social organisations gathered in a parallel summit are pressing the governments to adopt stronger commitments in the face of a worsening climate emergency.
Local knowledge systems rooted in traditional practices and culture passed down generations provide sustainable solutions to food and nutritional insecurity on the back of climate change, a conference heard this week.
To be president in a country like Bolivia might be like a precarious act performed by a tightrope-dancer between “the Devil and the deep blue sea”. After 23 years as Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales finally lost his foothold and ended up as political refugee in Mexico, adding his name to a long list of previous revolutionary exiles, like Augusto Sandino, Fidel Castro, and most prominently – Leon Trotsky. The last one was murdered, though the others came back, something Evo Morales has promised to do:
Mottled and reddish, the Lake Oku puddle frog has made its tragic debut on the Red List
, a rapidly expanding roll call of threatened species. It was once abundant in the Kilum-Ijim rainforest of Cameroon but has not been seen since 2010 and is now listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct.
In Argentina's Puna region, at 4,000 metres above sea level, the color green is rare in the arid landscape, which is dominated by different shades of brown and yellow. In this inhospitable environment, daily life has improved thanks to a system of piping water downhill from rock glaciers to local communities.
Rural poverty and inequality continue inflicting large swaths of population in Colombia, especially in rural areas. This situation, endemic since at least the beginning of the twentieth century, was at the root of the 50-year long conflict that shattered the country, leaving 220,000 deaths and 5.7 million displaced persons, and devastating a significant part of the rural areas, where government services and infrastructure vanished.
Politics is a dodgy game, maybe even more so if you represent political views based on a moral approach. When the charismatic Justin Trudeau, son of a cosmopolitan liberal who served as Canada´s Prime Minister for 16 years, in 2015 was elected Prime Minister it was within a global political climate different from what it is today. Barack Obama was in the White House, Angela Merkel served her third period as German Chancellor, and the UK Government had not yet announced its country's withdrawal from the EU. Nevertheless, Russia had three months before Trudeau´s election annexed Crimea, while Viktor Orbán´s Hungarian government the month before initiated the construction of a 4 metres high barrier along its nation´s eastern and southern borders to keep immigrants out.
August is immensely important in the history of the Asian subcontinent, marking the month that India and Pakistan gained independence
from the British in 1947. Now, in 2019, it has once again proved momentous, when, ten days before
India’s Independence day celebrations, prime minister Narendra Modi’s
government revoked the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir – a status provided for under the Indian Constitution.
Being fluent in a world language is a desirable skill in modern day society. However, some languages are suffering and in danger of extinction -- namely those of the indigenous peoples.
Kumaribai Jamkatan, 51, has been fighting for women’s land rights since 1987.
Though the constitution of India grants equal rights to men and women, women first started to stake their claim for formal ownership of land only after 2005–the year the government accorded legal rights to daughters to be co-owners of family-owned land.
Jam Bai, an Indigenous farmer from Korchi village in western India, is a woman in hurry. After two months of waiting, the rains have finally come and the rice saplings for her paddy fields must be sown this week while the land is still soft.
For the family of indigenous Guatemalan activist Jorge Juc, the announcement last week by US President Donald Trump of an agreement declaring Guatemala a “safe third country” could not be more bitterly ironic.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They live in all geographic regions and represent 5000 different cultures. These people are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to others yet are being forced to give up their ways of life.
Because the government has never provided them with electricity, indigenous communities in the mountains of northwest Guatemala had no choice but to generate their own energy.
The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)
was held in Bonn, Germany to rally behind a new approach to achieving a future that is more inclusive and sustainable than the present – through the establishment of secure and proper rights for all.
Last week the Washington Post
published a scathing critique
by the executive director of Human Rights Watch, titled “Why the U.N. Chief’s Silence on Human Rights is Deeply Troubling.” Kenneth Roth argued that Secretary-General António Guterres “is becoming defined by his silence on human rights—even as serious rights abuses proliferate.”
In light of land degradation and climate change, the protection of the environment is crucial—but the protection of the very people working tirelessly and with much risk to preserve nature should be just as important.
In the stifling heat, Diego Matom takes the bread trays out of the oven and carefully places them on wooden shelves, happy that his business has prospered since his village in northwest Guatemala began to generate its own electricity.
The United Nations, as in so many other areas, gives lip service in support of Indigenous issues while lacking the political will and enforcement power over individual member states to comply with the protection of fundamental human rights for the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples of the world.