Make (Environmental) Love, Not War ✌️🕊️
Happy Hump Day, and welcome to your dose of positive climate content. In this week’s edition of Pique Behind the Curtain, you’ll read about environmental peacebuilding, the reforestation of a nation, and take a “Sneak Pique” at the strange ways in which oil infrastructure is being used to support renewable energy. Let’s get to it!
— Written by Shayna Berglas
Environmental Peacebuilding - Can Climate Change be an Engine for Unity?
Climate change so often fuels conflict, but a recent article published by National Geographic details how it can heal conflict, too.
Take northern Senegal, for example. There, pastoralists have clashed over pasture land rights for their livestock, especially in the face of low rainfall and drying croplands. In 2017, the conflict led to tragedy when a local herder was murdered. It was then that the agricultural nonprofit ASVF stepped in to help. They used a strategy called environmental peacebuilding (EP) to appoint representatives from regions throughout Senegal, restoring the pastoral ecosystem, limiting the degradation of natural resources, and preventing conflict in the process.
At its core, EP is a strategy based on the belief that if conflicting groups share concerns about their environments and resources, the mutual benefits of cooperation outweigh self-interested rationale and act as an incentive for peace, rather than violence and competition. It’s a win-win solution. Just a few years after ASVF turned its focus to northern Senegal, herders in the area reported fewer disputes and less overgrazing.
The drawback is the lack of an exact framework for what works in every community, or even what “peace” constitutes in different cultures. Because of this, the results of environmental peacebuilding are hard to measure. Even still, there are conclusive EP successes to be celebrated. The ASVF in northern Senegal is one. Another is the EcoPeace Middle East, an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian environmental group that has led impactful environmental cooperation across nations, particularly in regard to the rehabilitation of the Jordan river.
Environmental peacebuilding is still a relatively young field. Before 2005 peace agreements rarely included environmental provisions, but now more frequently include considerations for causes, such as inequitable land distribution or resource allocation. But similar to climate action, environmental peacebuilding can sometimes take decades to show its worth. This, of course, is no reason to slow down! Rather, it’s the reason to work with urgency and focus our attention on the countries and communities that are most in need of resolution.
Good Climate News! 🌍
Thanks to the progressive policy adopted by the Nepalese government over four decades ago, mountains that were once desolate are reforested and thriving.
Through the 1980s and 90s, rampant forest clearing in order to make space for agricultural production and timber harvesting took a significant toll on Nepal's forests. So much so that between 1990 and 2005, the country lost close to 25% of its forest cover - a space of land about equal to the size of Qatar. The deforestation made flooding and landslides more frequent, alerting government officials of the environmental risk, as well as the danger it posed to local communities.
The regrowth is largely thanks to local communities who’ve taken over care of the forests. According to government data, these some 22,000 community-forest user groups are now responsible for more than a third of Nepal’s forests.
Nepal’s bold approach to protecting its woodlands has both fostered a healthy environmental ecosystem as well as boosted its economy. The World Bank claims that the national harvest of roundwood, which currently contributes minimally to the nation’s economy, could nearly quadruple sustainably each year, generating new employment opportunities for one million individuals.
Forests managed through local communities can provide a sustainable supply of wood and non-timber forest products, support rural livelihoods, boost local forest-based enterprises and jobs, and reduce imports. It’s a win for the planet and for the people.
Ever heard of an idle oil well? The EPA estimates that there are over 2 million of 'em in the United States that, you guessed it, are harming the planet. How? They're leaking methane. Lots of it. Check back next week for a film covering Renewell Energy and the way this startup is using big oil's old infrastructure to support a clean energy grid.
What We’re Watching, Reading, and Listening to
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Giving Tuesday 🫂
It’s about to be the 10th anniversary of Giving Tuesday! Giving Tuesday, often described as a global day of giving or a global generosity movement, is held each year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Since this first annual day of giving in 2012, nonprofits in the United States have raised more than $1.9 billion. In 2019, nonprofits in the U.S. raised more than $500 million dollars online alone.
This year, the day that encourages giving back falls on November 29th. Learn more about how to participate here. And in the meantime, here are 5 organizations to consider giving to this year: