Feature Story

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With heavenly beaches, an active volcano with an impressive crater, and the ever-present scents of ylang-ylang, vanilla and clove, the Comoros is an island archipelago located in the Indian Ocean between Africa and Madagascar, known as the “Perfume Islands.”

This is paradise. But climate change is threatening lives and livelihoods, upending traditional agricultural practices, and putting paradise at risk. 

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Walking reluctantly through his wilted eight-hectare maize field, Sililo Musepei waits for a sign that the rains will eventually come.

Usually, he would look for clouds in the sky or birds singing. This time though, he’s anxiously expecting an agro-meteorological advisory from the Zambia Meteorological Department.

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Back in 1929, Sierra Leone served as the headquarters of the British West African Meteorological Services. With independence, the Sierra Leone Meteorological Department was formed. It was one of the most advanced meteorological departments in West Africa, with advanced capacity in weather data collection, analysis and service provision.

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Conserving the global commons can mean grappling with complex issues, studying the science underlying them, and making far-reaching commitments. But it can also involve measuring crabs in a hot village square.

At the end of June, delegates to the Sixth Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly in Da Nang, Viet Nam, did both. After two days of intensive meetings, involving heads of government, ministers, and top scientists and businessmen, a group of them headed off to the nearby Cham Islands to witness conservation, literally, at ground level.

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Leonidas Nzigiyimpa, a conservation champion in Burundi, has devoted his life to protecting his fragile country’s natural wealth. Driven by a passion for change, he led the rehabilitation of forests, the protection of chimpanzees and rare species, and the empowerment of indigenous communities adjacent to the Bururi forest reserve. It is for these efforts that Leonidas is a recipient of this year’s National GeographicBuffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation.

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With over 20 million of visitors per year, the exceptionally well-preserved Southeast Asian trading port city of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is left with the gargantuan task of disposing of 27,000 tons of solid waste per year.

In 2016 alone, over 21 million tourists visited the city of 120,000, or 175 tourists per resident annually. The booming tourism industry produces approximately 75 tonnes of solid waste per day. Problems relating to insufficient collection and improper disposal of this waste had been festering for years.

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It’s illegal to cut down mangroves to make charcoal in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Everybody knows it.

The problem is, in a country where more than 4.6 million children are acutely malnourished and over 90 percent of people don’t have enough food to eat, many people simply don’t feel they have a choice in the matter.

Cutting down mangroves means money or light or heat for cooking. Cutting down mangroves means survival.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Takorayili, a village in the Northern region of Ghana, is sprinkled with bare, scorched hills and rocky arid terrains. The soil is not able to retain rain water. It is not fertile enough to sustain the growth of plants. As the rain water runs off downhill and drains into channels that dry up as quickly as they are filled, it washes away the top soil and its nutrients.

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Coastal fisheries are a primary source of livelihood and an important source of protein for many coastal communities in Viet Nam.  However, in a number of provinces in the early 2000s,competition over resources, compounded by environmental degradation, led to near-depletion of some higher-value fish species.y.  As a result, many small-scale fishers were forced to abandon their operations seeking other sources of livelihood.