Feature Story

The critical Qaraoun

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The disappearing sea

There were once over 1,100 islands scattered across the extensive waters of the Aral Sea. “I remember it very well,” recalls Zhandos Moldagulov, who came to live in the Aral district with his family in 1967. “Aral was formerly a harbour and fishing port on the banks of the Aral Sea, supplying fish to most of the neighbouring countries. My parents were proud to live in this place, with its abundant water, promising jobs, prosperous neighbourhoods, and fertile land”, he says.

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By Antonia Gawel and Mathy Stanislaus

Undefined

Vulnerable farming communities get help adapting to climate change and building ecosystem resilience.

Since losing his wife, 61-year-old Senyenzi Esron from Nyabihu District near the Gishwati forest in western Rwanda has been struggling to educate his eight children.

But a project funded by the world’s largest financer of environmental projects in developing countries, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has allowed him to diversify into beekeeping, which has changed his life.

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An increasing number of CEOs and boards are asking themselves a somewhat surprising question, one that at first glance might seem to sceptics to be almost “un-corporate”: if my business is not helping to create a better future for the planet and its people, what is the point of all this overwhelming effort?

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“I was working hard on a poultry farm trying to make a living – it was a daily struggle to make enough money simply to put food on the table. I had begun noticing on my way to work, that a group of women were meeting every Tuesday, but I felt too shy to join them. One day, I worked up the courage and went with my smallest daughter, to see what these meetings were about. I didn’t know then that my life was about to change forever – when I heard what the women were talking about, I decided to quit my job at the farm and get involved in this new project.

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The world comes together on August 9 to celebrate the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples to highlight the achievements and contributions that Indigenous Peoples make in the world, and their unique role as defenders of biodiversity and of our natural resources. 

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Approximately 370 million Indigenous Peoples live in more than 90 countries around the world. A significant fraction of the world’s priority areas — based on biodiversity and ecosystem importance — overlap with Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories and resources. Given the inextricable bond of Indigenous Peoples to the land, any loss of natural resources threatens their identity and impoverishes their communities. But Indigenous Peoples are not only victims of a deteriorating global environment: they are also a source of effective solutions.

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‘Sustainable Land Management in the Churia Range, Nepal’, a three-year medium-sized project of the Government of Nepal and WWF and supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was successfully concluded on 31 May 2017. It effectively helped reduce the vulnerability of 6,000 local people, including more than 2,300 women, from land degradation and soil erosion issues in the Himalayan foothills.

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“I have had the personal and professional experience of travelling, with many different companions, on a remarkable journey through the landscapes of Cuba, as we work to conserve our ecosystems and support sustainable livelihoods. Working together, our Government, the GEF and UNDP have provided the roadmap, directions, equipment and funds to make this possible.

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