Feature Story

Wetlands are diverse and productive habitats – a vital source of biome health, sometimes thought of as the 'kidneys of the earth'. Just like a giant kidney that filters our blood to remove unwanted by-products and waste, wetlands have a unique ability to store, assimilate, and transform contaminants lost from the land before they reach waterways. Like a kidney, wetlands help to dilute and filter material that could otherwise harm our lakes, rivers and other waterways.

This fundamental function makes wetlands a sacred place, and a critical source of freshwater.

Undefined

There is so much innate beauty in Belize. The tiny country — just 22,970 square kilometres —has rich lush forests, and sweeping coral reefs which are home to a vast range of species.

Biodiversity is one of Belize’s many treasures, and one of the reasons people visit from all over the world.

However maintaining it is an on-going battle, one that UNDP and its local partners have been fighting for 25 years.

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The people of Africa live on the frontlines of climate change. While the continent as a whole is rising – with strong economic growth and social progress over the past 10 years – droughts, floods, rising seas, and ever-more intense storms threaten to derail these gains, reinforce hard-to-break poverty traps, and unravel our global race to end poverty and hunger by 2030.

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In a country where 90 percent of the population relies on natural resources for food, income, and jobs—especially the coffee sector—efforts to restore degraded landscapes are also restoring hope for a better future.

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More than 60 years ago in the lower reaches of the Himalayas, a few ponds formed due to the slow melt of the Imja glacier. Like little secrets, they stayed hidden from view. Today they are gone, swallowed up by a ballooning lake that fascinates trekkers and locals alike. Imja Lake is an imposing body of water that stretches for nearly two kilometres. It is a stunning vista, but the lake poses a deadly threat. As the glacier melts faster than ever, due to global warming, the lake’s water levels keep rising.

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Under an ongoing collaboration between the GEF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and NGO People in Need, Cambodia’s push for nation-wide disaster preparedness has been boosted with the installation of new water-level stations and engagement with communities in the flood-prone coastal provinces of Koh Kong and Sihanoukville.

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How community action is helping vulnerable marine mammals stage a comeback in Madagascar.

Life is slow in Andranomavo. Here, surrounded by mudflats and mangroves, time is governed by the tides and the seasons. When to go fishing, when to plant and harvest the rice—these are the markers that matter.

But the current of change is running through this tiny community in Madagascar’s Nosy Hara Marine Protected Area, one of 20 villages in northern Madagascar embracing incentive-based conservation as a strategy to preserve and restore the region’s natural heritage.

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Local handicrafts and specialties are helping build a climate-resistant future for Madagascar’s coastal communities.

“When I was younger, everything was normal, even the rain,” Vivienne Rakotoarisoa reminisces. “But nowadays everything is irregular. When we start planting, the rain doesn’t come anymore.”

In days past, family life in Madagascar’s Vatovavy Fitovinany region followed the seasons. Rice seeds were always sown in October to coincide with the onset of the rainy season. But today, the seasons are unpredictable.

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The challenges and achievements experienced by coastal fisheries communities spanning three continents was the topic of discussion last month in Guayaquil, Ecuador at the GEF Coastal Fisheries Initiative Global Inception Meeting.

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Mr. Dolores Solís, a farmer in Los Asientos, Panama, is part of an organisation that is transforming the Panamanian ranching sector by promoting the use of stainable practices.

Although small in territory, Panama is a country of immense natural wealth: great biodiversity, abundant water resources, rich soil, and huge tracts of tropical forests. However, these vital natural resources require careful management and use in order to prevent environmental degradation.

Heart and Soul

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