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Help Wanted to Make Sure the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 21 Will Result in Concrete Actions

Capture d’écran 2015-06-25 à 00.04.37

Logo of Place To Be – Courtesy Anne-Sophie Novel with permission

The year 2015 is especially important for our planet’s climate. One of the highlights is the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) that will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris. Diplomats from all over the world will gather to discuss global policies and France is intent on making a success out of the event.

Civil society groups, as well as journalists and bloggers are also gearing up to push for what they see as a last chance or a first step for our planet's survival, as summed up by French blogger Jack Tenin on Club Mediapart.

If you are longing to be an active part of the discussion on the side of the civil society  and you are willing to come to Paris during the event, you could participate in the event at a new media information factory that includes a co-working space and can provide affordable places to stay, as well as connection to the venue.

French economist, environmentalist, journalist and blogger Anne-Sophie Novel is creating just such a place, which her team named “Place to B“. She expands on the project in the following video :

The project aims at manufacturing a different storytelling on climate change, by

  • QUESTIONNING the misconceptions of our times on the climate and sustainability topic with artists, journalists, scientists, bloggers, hackers, poets…
  • COMMENTING the news and debates happening simultaneously at COP21.
  • CO-CREATING new methods and tools to change positively the storytelling around «climate».
  • CO-HABITING with 600 storytellers from all over the blue planet and create new connexions.
    A youth hostel, St Christopher Inn, located near the Gare du Nord, with its ground floor Belushi’s bar, will exclusively host Place to B throughout the COP21.

Registration for Place to B is here. You may even meet some Global Voices contributors during this busy and massive event.

Lima Orchid, a Flower Once Believed to Be Extinct, Blooms Again in the Peruvian Capital

Variedades de orquídea.

Different kinds of orchids. Image published on Wikimedia Commons under license CC BY-SA 3.0.

For over 50 years, it was thought that the Lima orchid was an extinct species; but, good news comes from a team from the National Forest and Wildlife Service, which is also part of the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture:

Los especialistas encontraron ejemplares de dicha orquídea, típica de las lomas de la cuenca del río Rímac, en las cercanías de dicho cuerpo de agua. Pronto corrió el rumor sobre la mítica flor, que se creía desaparecida desde hace más de cincuenta años.

The team of specialists found some specimens of this orchid, typical of the hills in the Rimac river basin, near that body of water. The rumor about the mythical flower was soon well known, a flower believed to be extinct for over 50 years.

The news was echoed on Twitter:

Orchid of Lima “Chloraea undulata” reappears, although it was believed extinct. Enjoy it.

Now it's up for the authorities and the population to take care of it and preserve it.

Another Shark Attack Claims a Teenage Surfer on Reunion Island, Post-Attack Policy in Effect

Cove rphoto of Facebook page to remember Elio Canestri - with their permission.

Cover photo of Facebook page to remember Elio Canestri – with their permission.

A 13-year-old boy was killed by a shark on April 12 near Les Aigrettes on Reunion island.

Elio Canestri was a promising surfer and a member of the local surfing club. The local community is shocked by the tragic news. A Facebook page was set up to commemorate his life, with already more than 3,500 fans within a few hours.

Soon after the events, the local authorities activated the post-attack measures, which include specific fishing targets in the area.

Unfortunately, shark attacks have become a repetitive event on Reunion island: There have been 16 shark attacks off the island since 2011. In February this year, island authorities extended a law prohibiting swimming and other water-based activities except in special areas in response to the high number of attacks. The measure has resulted in a dramatic decline in tourism.       

Call for Urgent Climate Change Action After Cyclone Pam Devastates Vanuatu

Following the devastation of Pacific islands nation Vanuatu by Category 5 Cyclone Pam, John Englart (aka @Takvera) looks at links with climate change:

Vanuatu has suffered its worst disaster on record with the impact of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam, with the President of Vanuatu blaming climate change for extreme weather (Guardian 16Mar2015).

…Cyclone Pam and the devastation of Vanuatu and other Pacific nations is one more step on the road to a climate agreement in Paris in December 2015.

John also speculates about Australia's contribution to foreign aid and its role at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris later this year.

His post also has links to organisations where you can give donations for emergency relief for Vanuatu.

Worst Drought In A Decade Hits Taiwan

8 municipalities in Taiwan started second stage water restrictions (orange) since Feb 26. CC BY-NC 2.0.

8 municipalities in Taiwan started second stage water restrictions (area in orange).

As a subtropical/tropical island, Taiwan usually covers with wetness and green. However, last year, there were only two typhoons, the island is now facing the worst drought in a decade.

Independent reporter Chu Shu Chuan reported that the storage of 12 major reservoirs is reduced to less than 50%, according to the Waer Resources Agency on its February 8 press release. 8 municipalities in Taiwan have started second stage water restrictions since Feb 26.

Chu's follow-up report highlighted that the storage of one of the major reservoir, the Shinmen Reservoir has dropped to 27% and the water supply of its major industrial users will be reduced by 7.5% from March 13.

If the drought cannot be eased when rains come in spring, the industrial parks in Taiwan may face the shortage of water that cannot be simply solved by adjusting the manufacturing schedules.

“Where de Lizard?” Why the Caribbean is Fascinated with Them

These little creatures have different meanings in other cultures. Ancient Romans believed that the lizard symbolized death and resurrection, because it sleeps during winter and reawakens in Spring.

For the Greeks and Egyptians, the lizard represented divine wisdom and good fortune.

In the Caribbean, lizards have special significance as well. Jamaican blogger Nadine Tomlinson examines the many ways in which lizards feature prominently in local folklore and old wives’ tales:

In Jamaica, old-time people say, ‘If a lizard jump on a woman, it mean she pregnant, or soon pregnant. […]

Old-time people say, ‘If you dream ’bout lizard, it mean you have an enemy.’

She likens the fascination with lizards to the region's African heritage, noting that “throughout the entire continent of Africa, the lizard recurs again and again as a motif in popular culture.” She cites the carving of the lizard icon on doors in West Africa, saying that in some tribes, it represents household tranquility; in Cameroon, it represents fertility.

Interestingly, one of Trinidad and Tobago's most beloved calypsonians, The Mighty Sparrow, sang a popular song called “The Lizard”, which humourously deals with aspects of sexuality:

Playing in class with a lizard in a glass
The lizard get away from Ruth and run by the teacher foot!
Oh Lord, the children frightened hmmm…wonder what gon’ happen,
But the teacher laughing out ‘kee kee kee’, only watching everybody.

The lizard run up she foot and it disappear…
Everybody still searching everywhere.
Where mih lizard, teacher Mildred?
Under she dress, taking a rest.
The way she jolly and happy, I swear the lizard must be tickling she!

While Tomlinson, like most Caribbean dwellers, take the presence of lizards as a given and feels a certain affinity to them, for her, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule: the Jamaican croaking lizard and ground lizard, both of which “creep [her] out”:

Normally, the former tends to be pale, although I’ve seen some in darker hues, and one with spots a couple of times. Yes, they croak, yes, they’ve kept me up at night, and yes, they can be brazen. […] Once, one fell off the ceiling, and almost dropped on my head. Never mind that it didn’t. Just the thought of it stuck in my hair, and the sound of its sticky plop! on the floor was enough for me to start hollering.

As for the latter, as its name suggests, you would be hard-pressed to find it in a tree. This kind is large and long, with an even longer tail, and slithers. They’re fast, too. One chased me when I was a little girl, so I’m convinced they bite. […]

I wonder what old-time people have to say about those two.

At Least 30 People Killled After Heavy Rains in Chile

The heaviest rains to hit Chile's northern region in decades have costed the life of at least 30 people, according to the most recent report by the National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry (known as Onemi), dated April 21.

At the time of writing the original post of this translation, a new victim was found.

LAST MINUTE: At Los Loros, the body of a new victim of the flood was found. This would be number 31.

On Global Voices, we reported about what has been considered the worst rain from the past 80 years in the Northern regions (mainly in Atacama and Antofagasta) when heavy rains caused the Copiapó river to overflow.

According to press releases, there are at least 59 people unaccounted for and 29.739 affected. Meanwhile, material damages go up to 2.000 completely destroyed homes. Over 6.000 have been severely affected, and another 11.000 have suffered minor damages.

The Collapse of Civilisation Is Already a Reality for the Children of Ambovombe, Madagascar

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

A scientific publication in the Journal of Ecological Economics argues that “over-exploitation of either Labor or Nature will result in a societal collapse” if nothing is done to prevent it.

Based on a mathematical model, the study explains (via The Guardian) that the convergence of ” the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” will increase the likelihood of the fall of society as it was observed for previous human civilizations.

That collapse is already a reality in the south of Madagascar, a region that has suffered recurrent bout of famine over the past decade. 300,000 people are at risk of famine in the region because of a severe and prolonged drought since November 2014. 90% of the Malagasy population live with less than 2 USD/day, a stark reminder of the growing inequity on the African continent. John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo is an accountant manager from the region. He visited the city of Ambovombe and could not hold back his tears from what he saw. He hesitated but felt compelled to share the urgency of the situation by posting photos of children fighting for their lives because of lack of food. Kotovaoarivelo writes :

Je ne peux pas me taire et faire comme si de rien n’était devant la gravité de la situation vécue au quotidien par nos compatriotes dans le sud. Ces photos parlent d’elles même. Je ne vais pas vous prendre la tête pour ces photos, mais quand même en vous bousculant juste un peu pour réfléchir avec moi sur les pourquoi et les comment de toutes ces choses qui font chaque jour le calvaire de ces pauvres gens. Je vais vous révéler là des photos pour ne pas dire des informations qui passent presque inaperçues [..]  Nos dirigeants sont occupés ou aveuglés par d’autres choses qu’ils ne pourront jamais déchiffrer le message sur les regards de ces pauvres enfants

I cannot keep quiet any longer and pretend as if nothing is happening in the face of  the grave situation that our countrymen in the south face on daily basis. These photos speak for themselves. I will not bludgeon your head with these photos, but I hope they will jost your awareness a little and help you reflect with me about the plight of these people. I am merely sharing my pictures so that their suffering will not go unnoticed [..] Our political leaders are so busy or so blinded by other things that they cannot feel the message in the eyes of these children, seeking help. 

Cleaning Up the Coastal Areas of Singapore

Volunteers during a cleanup event. Flickr photo by NUS Toddycats & ICCS (CC License)

Volunteers during a cleanup event. Flickr photo by NUS Toddycats & ICCS (CC License)

Since 1992, the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore has been organizing activities to remove garbage from the beaches and mangroves of Singapore. Every year, about 1,500 volunteers are joining the cleanup events that are able to collect 60,000 pieces of litter.

Clean up locations around Singapore

Clean up locations around Singapore

Indigenous People, Afro-Colombians and Peasants Unite Against Illegal Mining in River Ovejas, Colombia

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

Despite threats, indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia, members from five different areas within the ancestral territory of Sat Tama Kiwe de Caldono, Afro-descendents from the La Toma Community Council and resident campesinos in the surrounding areas joined together to protest against illegal mining in the area of Río Ovejas in the north of Cauca. The demonstration began on Friday, 13 February and lasted for three days.

Natalio Pinto, one of the participants, told Global Voices that participation was something of a stress test:

El recorrido se hizo al borde del río, abriendo trocha y cruzando las montañas, fueron 3 días de jornada, casi 30 horas.

The route followed the river, opening trails and crossing the mountains. It lasted three full days, nearly 30 hours.

With regards to the protest's goals, she added:

El tercer día del encuentro se dio una asamblea en la cual participaron los indígenas de La Laguna Siberia, Territorio ancestral Sa’th Tama Kiwe, el Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma, así como campesinos que viven en zonas cercanas y representantes de otros consejos comunitarios afros y cabildos indígenas. La idea es formar un frente común en defensa del territorio y en contra de la minería ilegal y multinacional que amenaza el río Ovejas. La jornada sirvió también para solidarizarse con las compañeras que participaron en “la marcha de los turbantes” en noviembre/diciembre pasado. La marcha de los turbantes llevó a mujeres del Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma caminando desde el Cauca hasta Bogotá para pedirle al Estado una respuesta efectiva contra la minería ilegal en el río Ovejas. A raíz de esto amenazaron a varias lideresas de la comunidad, la cuales tuvieron que salir desplazadas.

On the third day of the protest, there was a meeting in which indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia participated, alongside those from the ancestral territory of Sa’th Tama Kiwe, the Afro-Colombian Community Council from La Toma and campesinos that live in nearby areas as well as representatives from other Afro-Colombian community councils and other indigenous councils. The idea is to form a common front in defense of the land and against illegal and multinational mining that threatens the River Ovejas. The event also served to show solidarity with female colleagues that participated in the ‘march of the turbans’ in November/December last year. The march of the turbans involved women from the Afro-Colombian Community Council in La Toma walking from Cauca to Bogota in order to request an effective response from the State regarding illegal mining in River Ovejas. As a result of this, various female leaders were threatened and furthermore had to leave displaced.

Images have circulated on Twitter:

Indigenous community from Caldono protest against illegal mining in favor of the River Ovejas.

In other areas support of the fight against mining was also heard:

I've just left the protest in the north of Cauca; I learned a lot about the River Ovejas. Now I shout and I will shout even louder: No to mega mining!

Twitter users tweeted in solidarity:

‘UNITY indigenous/campesinos/Afro-Colombians!!’ ‘Protest in defense of the River Ovejas territory because mining is destroying what is ours’

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