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In the leadup to the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, the United Kingdom has sought to position itself as a leader in global efforts to end government support for fossil fuels. The UK’s Special Envoy to COP26, John Murton, announced…
Pumpjacks at an oil well site near Epping, N.D., Oct. 1, 2018. © 2018 Jim Wilson/The New York Times/GDA via AP Images
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“Grow up!”, Boris Johnson told world leaders in his address to the United Nations. The British Prime Minister warned that all countries must commit to major changes ahead of the global climate summit in the UK, at the beginning of next month. If we…
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 22, 2021.
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Toxic Legacy from Kabwe Mine Needs Action by Governments, Donors, Companies

This June 5 is World Environment Day, which kicks off the “United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”. Ecosystem restoration is about preventing, halting and reversing environmental damage. It is  hugely important  globally…
Children play in a backyard
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After Pledging Reforms, UK Development Bank Should Implement Them

A United Kingdom development bank, CDC Group, has taken another step toward addressing human rights abuses at oil palm plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In May, the bank committed to reforming its complaints mechanism and adopting a…
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“Where will we go looking for land? There isn’t any land left,” Elisabeth, a 24-year-old mother of four, asked me in 2016. She, along with other rural residents of the Serenje district of Zambia’s Central Province, was displaced seven years ago — some…
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International Lead Poisoning Week Highlights Need for Action

I met “David” and his brothers in the dusty township of Chowa in Kabwe. David, eight years old, is thin and small for his age. Sitting in their yard, his grandfather described his worries about David. He has problems in…
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“Henry” is thin and small for his age. The 10-year-old, his mum and I are sitting outside in the dusty, poor township of Waya in the Zambian city of Kabwe on a hot, dry afternoon. His mum, looking weary, describes their life…
Former Mine Pit in Kabwe, Zambia
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Years have passed, but Kasuba* still remembers when she was tested for lead as a child of about 8. The World Health Organisation says that there is no safe level of lead exposure. But the amount of the metal in Kasuba’s blood was up to…
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Over the last nine months some 700,000 ethnic Rohingya in Burma have been driven from their homes across the border into Bangladesh by the Burmese military. The attacks have been described by the UN as “a textbook case of ethnic…
Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River with an improvised raft to reach to Bangladesh in Teknaf, Bangladesh, November 12, 2017. Picture taken November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain TO FIND ALL PICTURES SEARCH REUTERS PULITZER
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Commercial Farmers Abusing Rural People’s Rights

As activists and policymakers from across the globe gather in Washington D.C. for the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, it’s a good time to reflect on how commercial agriculture leaves peasants landless in Zambia. Esther M. (not…
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Zambian President Edgar Lungu recently reacted to news that commercial farms had forcibly evicted rural residents by insisting that investors properly compensate the displaced and “respect the rule of law.” But so far, no one seems to…
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Every few years, a journalist flies to Zambia to write an article about Kabwe, “the world’s most toxic town.” For more than a century, Kabwe was home to an enormous lead smelting plant that belched its dust into the air and poisoned the soil…
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"We slept out in the open air like wild animals. Our children fell sick because of the cold," Felicia K told me. "We had not put up any proper structures. We were using leaves." Felicia, a 52-year-old mother of 10, is one of many rural Zambians who have…
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A year ago today activists attended the Girl Summit, a global meeting hosted by the UK government to agree on action to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage within a generation. Sitting in the audience, I listened to the promises about…
Belkis, 15 years old, holds her one-year-old son in her mother’s house which she returned to after the husband she was married to at age 13 abandoned her.