Even as climate change intensifies these challenging conditions, the Sahel need not become a desert. Unsustainable agricultural practices and overgrazing are among the main factors causing land degradation in the Sahel, which is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, organisations like CRESA in Niger have shown that with the right approach, desertification of the Sahel can be reversed.
From 6-16 september, the 13th Conference of Parties' of the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification) took place, this time in Ordos, China. The UNCCD is the global convention of the United Nations on combating desertification and drought. Every country in the world has signed this convention. Canada withdrew in 2012, but in 2016 - under the Trudeau administration - started a process to re-enter the convention. Both ENDS is a member of Drynet, a network of local organisations and communities in dry regions searching for ways to use land in a sustainable manner.
Last week the Agricultural Investment Summit took place in London, seeking to promote land as an emerging and expanding investment opportunity. Civil society organisations are concerned that this could lead to further land grabbing, threatening the livelihoods and food security of countless local communities in the global South. In a joint civil society statement Both ENDS urges pension funds and other financial institutions to stop such damaging investment practices.
Between 2010 and 2013, Both ENDS, together with Indonesian and Dutch organisations and universities, conducted a project in the district of Sanggau in West-Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, Indonesia. The project was meant to help local communities with the recognition of their land rights and. This is a beautiful short documentary about how the people of one of these villages responded to the ever expanding palm oil plantations around them.
Manila Bay is crucial site for biodiversity and home to over 23 million people, but their wellbeing is at risk due to reclamation projects, which are also part of a large-scale top-down masterplan for the bay. It is estimated that more than 11 million people are threatened with displacement due to land reclamations and related disaster risks. As an alternative, Kalikasan is developing a People's Plan.
The Barro Blanco dam project in Panama, which has Dutch financial support, is causing indigenous lands to disappear under water. Both ENDS is working to protect the rights of indigenous communities living near the dam.