Feature Story

“The company that I run has over 50 years of experience in the energy sector. At Energoremont, we have a strong technical base and human resources, but we had never thought of extending our services beyond the repair of power stations, substations and electrical works – which had always been our core business. This all changed dramatically when we became partners in the GEF-funded project on technology transfer and market development for small-hydropower. The project opened new horizons of thinking and business possibilities for me personally, and my company.

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“Belarus used to be described as the ‘land of mires’ . My childhood was spent surrounded on all sides by mires (peatlands) and woods . As a young boy, I would go hunting with my father and older brother, and cranberry-picking with my mother and the women from the village . These formative years spent in the countryside determined my choice of path in life. After leaving school, I went to Minsk, where I enrolled at the biology faculty of the university. My first interest was in waterfowl and it was through this that I became interested in wetlands and peatlands

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Nowhere else is the inextricable connection between people’s well-being, economic prosperity and the environment clearer than on small islands. Since its inception, the GEF has been a strong partner and supporter of environmental programmes that promote sustainable development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as the Republic of Seychelles.

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“As a responsible global shipping carrier, APL is dedicated to protecting ocean biodi- versity. With ballast water identified as a major threat to the world’s marine ecosystems as a key vector for invasive species transfer, effective ballast water management (BWM) has been a hot topic of discussion among the global shipping industry and scientific community over the years.

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“The Galápagos islands occupy a special place in the minds of people – what other place can claim to have had such an influence on the way we think about our natural world? Our island ecosystems are unique, not only because of emblematic species like the iguanas, tortoises and finches, but also because they are so isolated, unusual and fragile. At the same time, these islands are a premier tourist destination for wildlife viewing and diving, and this is an essential pillar of our economy – along with the farming and fishing that sustains our communities.

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“I have lived here in these mountains for my whole life. Like my father, and his father before him, I am a herdsman and I graze my animals here in the Toolaylyg and Barlyk River valleys. My brother Boris lives nearby and we help each other look after our sheep, goats, yaks and horses.

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“I was born in Naganimora village and was schooled only as far as the ninth class, before my marriage to a man from Leangyu village was fixed, and I had to move here. In these mountains we have always relied on jhum for our food and most of our income. We clear patches in the forest and then plant a mixture of crops – some of these are wild plants and others are domestic varieties. After a few years, the harvest gets poorer, so we leave the patch to recover and plant a new area. This used to work well and we were able to meet most of our food needs.

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“We experienced severe floods twice in 2014. In the first flood in May, the water started flowing at night and the flood reached its peak in the early hours of the morning. People tried to move everything to the upper storeys of their homes, but the water level rose so high that it did not really help. Our emergency services did their best to evacuate people, but the people didn’t want to leave their homes – they had no idea how bad the flood would become. Also, our Fire Brigade and Police did not have proper training for such situations.

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“I have been a widow for many years, so caring for my children has weighed heavily on me. For women like me, even when our own children are grown up, we have our grandchildren to look after and feed, because their parents go to the towns to look for work – there is no other work for them here. The mothers come back home to the village when it is time to have their babies, and then we care for the children when the mothers go back to the city.

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“It was during my childhood years in Malawi that my interest in the natural world was first awakened. We did not live in a city, and I spent nearly all of my time outdoors. But it was when I was in the ninth grade at school, and I looked down a microscope for the first time at leaves and guard cells, that my mind was made up - I was going to become a botanist! I went on to study Botany at university before taking up my first job with the Botanical Society in South Africa.

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