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Feature Story

With the unveiling of the inaugural five winners on October 17, 2021, the Government of Costa Rica was honored with the Earthshot Prize, a Nobel-like award founded by the Duke of Cambridge and renowned British naturalist David Attenborough.

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The Sahara desert has been advancing steadily across the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for more than 50 years, leaving its ecosystems and iconic species, such as the bearded barbary sheep and pale gold addax, increasingly vulnerable to threats.

A new Global Environment Facility-supported project will work to preserve Mauritanian biodiversity and habitats by creating an extensive new protected area in the district of Adrar, an area famed as a crossroads for medieval traders bearing salt and dates across the desert.

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Agricultural systems are essential for the health, food security and nutrition, and economic well-being of people around the globe. But unsustainable agricultural expansion has resulted in significant loss of forests and biodiversity, land and soil degradation, and considerable greenhouse gas emissions. Food systems must be transformed, including through sustainable value chains and integrated cross sectoral approaches, in order to address these damaging impacts to our global environment.

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Half of the world's gross domestic product depends on nature, and so is at risk from its loss – which it will take “a complete transformation of our economic and financial system" to reverse – the World Conservation Congress learned this month. And such a transformation can only be brought about by partnerships between business, finance, governments, civil society, and people of all ages.

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San José is one of more than 20 cities across Asia, Africa, and Latin America working towards a resilient, inclusive, low-carbon urban future as part of UrbanShift, a new Global Environment Facility funded initiative, led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI), 

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Nature may be a bad enemy, but it is also a good friend. If humanity exploits it, the natural world can take revenge. By contrast, working with nature pays back many times over.

Such were the conclusions of a session at the World Conservation Congress bringing together senior leaders from three countries on different continents – Pakistan, Kenya, and Costa Rica – to describe the benefits of their work to restore land.

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Innovative ways must be developed to counter “a startling lack of investment in the oceans” and to build a blue economy, an expert seminar has concluded.

The session – sponsored by the Global Environment Facility as part of the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Marseilles – heard from top financiers, business leaders, civil society representatives, and senior figures in national and international governance.

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For generations, people have combed the sponge-like cloud forests around the city of Xalapa, Mexico for edible mushrooms. But a combination of deforestation and climate-change-related drought have devastated mushroom crops, an important source of income in a region beset by poverty.

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Modern conservation practices were largely developed without considering justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Humans have been viewed as separate from nature. Indigenous and local knowledge has been mostly dismissed. And communities have been left out of decisions that directly impact their ocean, land, and heritage.

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Lake Tota, the largest lake in Colombia, is surrounded by highest-altitude farmlands that are unlocking secrets about how to manage water resources in a time of climate crisis.

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