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OU on the BBC: Hope In A Changing Climate

Updated Thursday 10th December 2009

An eye-opening documentary tells of barren lands transformed by local residents. Could this restoration point towards an easy method of carbon capture?

 

Copyright The Open University

Hope in a Changing Climate is a new documentary co-produced by The Open University and the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) for BBC World News. It reframes the debate on global warming by illustrating that large, decimated ecosystems can be restored. Success stories from Ethiopia, Rwanda and China prove that bringing large areas back from environmental ruin is possible, and the results are key to stabilising the earth’s climate, eradicating poverty and making sustainable agriculture a reality.

The programme documents the remarkably successful efforts of local people to restore empty, degraded ecosystems – transforming them into fertile, life-sustaining environments which enable people to break free from entrenched poverty.

Presented by John D. Liu, founder of the EEMP and creator of the film Lessons of the Loess Plateau, the film contains breathtaking before and after footage of large-scale restoration projects. The area of restoration on the Loess Plateau in China is the size of Belgium and thousands of years of subsistence farming had made it barren and infertile. In 1995 the Chinese Government, with support from The World Bank, took drastic action to rehabilitate the plateau, and local people – seen as both perpetuators and victims of the devastation – became part of the solution.

John D. Liu has been visiting the area for the past fifteen years and in Hope in a Changing Climate he travels back to find astounding results. The film uncovers the dramatic impact of similar projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda. Once the scene of devastating droughts in 1984, Ethiopia has used the same approach as that in China to begin bringing areas of arid land back to productivity and ecological balance. In Rwanda, where ecological degradation from over-farming of wetland areas saw the near failure of the country’s hydroelectricity supply, the Government has undertaken a similar project and seen vast improvements.

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What is ecological restoration? How will it change lives in the developing world? Leading Open University academics Joe Smith and Vince Gauci introduce this three part film ‘Hope in a Changing Climate’ which focuses on restoration projects in China, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Local villagers work together to rebuild the ecosystem which in turn has restored their environment. By changing their farming practices and re-vegetating these barren lands farmers are significantly improving their way of life. Additional video tracks include interviews with Rwandan president H.E. Paul Kagame and the Wang Family, a success story from China's Loess Plateau. Hope in a Changing Climate, is a new documentary co-produced by The Open University and EEMP for BBC World, with support from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Open University, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and The World Bank.

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