A new fracking initiative has been formalized by the Colombian government in cooperation with the state enterprise Ecopetrol. The first of four exploratory projects will take place in Puerto Wilches, a small community located next to the Magdalena River, one of the largest in Colombia. Fracking has been associated with water pollution, which could lead to severe consequences for local people’s livelihoods and the region as a whole. Social and environmental activists have received death threats and have grown increasingly vulnerable since 2016. Nevertheless, protests have emerged and will likely continue, despite COVID-19 restrictions.
After decades of whaling under an exemption for scientific research, Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission last month, formally resuming commercial whaling. What effects will this have on the commission, and the international ban on commercial whaling in general? While the ban has been weakened over the past decades, the recent withdrawal does not necessarily sound the death knell. Rather, it could also mean the end of decades of deadlock in the commission. More broadly, the Japanese exit raises questions of dealing with international challenges through inclusive institutions and commissions – Should inclusivity be pursued at any cost, or can it be productive to proceed on different tracks?
The African Elephant is a keystone species, strongly affecting the ecosystems in which they live. The recent drop in elephant populations across the African continent are therefore cause for major concern in the realm of wildlife conservation. However, this downturn is not only cause for ecological concern. The illegal trade in ivory is an important source of revenue for armed groups across the African continent, and highlights questions of governance, corruption, and organized crime. What are the key drivers of illegal elephant killing? What consequences does the trade have, ranging from the local to the international level? How can the trade be halted as a means of warfare financing and ongoing corruption?