Feature Story

The Russian Federation encompasses more than a fifth of the world’s ocean shelf and has one of the longest coastlines in the world. This coastline weaves through thirteen seas and three oceans, and extends to some of the most isolated regions of the planet. Much of this area lies within the icy Arctic Circle.

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Tunisia’s Tamerza Oasis is the largest of more than 200 oases located across the country’s four southern governorates. These oases, which account for more than 40,000 hectares of agriculturally productive lands, have a long history of cultural and economic importance to the country.

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Kenya's Chyulu Hills host not just rich wildlife and beautiful landscapes but a groundbreaking partnership to conserve biodiversity and combat climate change between its people and the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

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Life can be hard in The Gambia – and even harder for the women who harvest oysters, a local delicacy and key source of protein, in the West African country’s swamps and wetlands.

It’s back-breaking work, venturing out in small canoes to harvest oysters from amongst the mangrove roots using machetes and other rudimentary tools – at the mercy of clouds of mosquitoes, crocodiles and the razor-sharp edges of the oyster beds themselves.

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The textile industry has long been an important employer in Mauritius. It is hard work, with many women combining domestic responsibilities with long days in the factories just to feed their families. So when factories began to close in the 1990s, many found themselves struggling to survive.

Life became very hard,” Anooradah Poorun, a former textile worker says. “Children could not go to school. Women suffered domestic violence: some were forced into prostitution.”

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Thanks to a project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that began in 2013, rhinos are safer from poaching in South Africa today than they have been for a long time. The programme uses the latest technology to track poachers and improve rhino crime scene management.

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Tajikistan is one of the poorest former Soviet republics. Here, with over 30 per cent of the population living below the national poverty line, a sick family member, a poor harvest or lost livestock can mean the difference between struggle and survival for many of the nation’s 8 million citizens.

So when sheep and cattle started dying in remote Khatlon Oblast, the impact was immediate.

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Shakur Belle is a bright but shy girl at Pleasance Secondary School on the east coast of the main island of the Seychelles, a cluster of islands off the coast of East Africa. She got excited by a scheme, involving her school and others on the island, to use natural solutions to fight the negative impacts of climate change.

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Ibrahim Aba Fita, 52, a farmer in southwestern Ethiopia, had a problem a few years ago: Despite hard work and the application of chemical fertilizer, his crop yields were declining year by year.

But thanks to a chance encounter, Ibrahim realized that the problem was the poor quality of his soil. Since then, he has changed the way he farms and now produces more food. And along the way he has become an inspiration to his community.

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The thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification is currently taking place in Ordos, China, and the GEF Small Grants Programme has been actively sharing the practices and knowledge of communities and civil society organizations to address land degradation with the launch of its most recent publication, Community Approaches to Sustainable Land Management and Agroecology Practices.

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