World Environment Day 2024: Six stories about environmental justice

A wide shot of the toxic ponds in the wider landscape. There are little ponds dotted across a rocky landscape

On World Environment Day, June 5, we’re revisiting six stories from the past year, exploring indigenous resistance, the climate crisis, and global environmental policy.

Last Day on Earth: How the climate crisis is affecting the world’s last nomadic Afar tribe, in Ethiopia 

The Afar nomadic indigenous people of East Africa are fighting to preserve their distinct way of life amid climate catastrophe. In this striking travelogue through the Great Rift Valley, Afar women, children and elders explain how the climate crisis, infrastructure megaprojects, and conflict are affecting life for nomadic communities in Ethiopia. Find the full story.

Lake Karum, one of two salt lakes in the northern end of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

The Maya Train and other megaprojects threatening southern Mexico’s Indigenous communities

The 966-mile Maya Train being built through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is the latest in a series of megaprojects impacting the region, from solar arrays to industrial pig farms. While some residents hope the project will encourage tourism and boost the economy, many others fear environmental destruction on a scale of ecocide and ethnocide. In Yucatan, Jennifer Kennedy speaks with Indigenous communities and activists. Find the full story.

The Maya Train map showing seven different sections (from Ruta Tren Maya)

The Maya Train map showing seven different sections (from Ruta Tren Maya)

‘No river, no life’: Alevi Kurds in Turkey battle to save Munzur River

Turkey’s Alevi Kurds fear a series of dams and hydroelectric power plants on their sacred river will exterminate their culture. Following an Erdoğan win in the 2023 general elections, these fears have worsened. Find the full story.

Attendees pray during a traditional Alevi ceremony at Düzgün Baba

“It dried up before our eyes”: How the loss of Jordan’s marshes has fractured communities

Once a vast source of joy and enrichment and a crucial resource for communities in Jordan, the marshes of Azraq have dried up. Journalist Melissa Pawson meets Khadija, Karam, and Jad – three Azraq residents with bittersweet memories of the marshes as well as hope for the return of Jordan’s wetlands. Find the full story.

The Passing: A climate fiction short story

The last decade has seen a boom in climate fiction. This piece, by the young winner of our Writing Wrongs Schools Competition, was inspired by real-life examples, including the droughts experienced in Madagascar and changes to the rainy season in Nigeria that are causing shortages of what once were stable food crops. Find the full story. 

Maya beekeepers declare an environmental emergency after finding scores of dead bees

Intensive farming has devastated the bee population in the Yucatán Peninsula. Jennifer Kennedy and Richard Arghiris relay the story of Mexico’s historic Maya beekeepers, the impact of pesticides on their sacred practices, and what is being done to resist the destruction of their culture and livelihood. Find the full story.

beekeepers in an apiary, hives

Beekeepers were preparing for the annual honey harvest when they found their apiaries destroyed. Credit: Collective of Chenes Maya Communities

Main image by Soukaina Rabii from this feature.

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