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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?

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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.

Hope in a Changing Climate is produced with support from:

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) The Rockefeller Foundation

Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture The Open University



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