Greening refugee camps, and Vietnam's sand mining problem – ICYMI

In case you missed it, here's your Ours to Save newsletter for the week beginning 21st June.

Vietnam’s hunger for sand is eroding a way of life ⏳

On the banks of the Tien River in Vietnam, a main branch of the Mekong Delta, villages teeter close to the edge.

As the core ingredient in concrete and tarmac, sand has rapidly become the prized commodity at the centre of the world’s largest extractive industry. Each year up to 50 billion tonnes of sand and gravel – known collectively as “aggregate” – are mined from rivers, oceans and hillsides around the world. Vietnam’s urban building boom is fuelling demand for the substance, but constant mining of the Mekong’s riverbed comes at a great cost to those who live alongside it.

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Does London need the Silvertown Tunnel? 🚗

Breathing the air in Newham does as much harm as smoking 159 cigarettes each year. We investigated Sadiq Khan's controversial proposal for a new tunnel in the area.

In December 2020 legal history was made in the United Kingdom. Following years of inquiry into the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah in 2013, the coroner ruled for the first time that air pollution was a direct cause of death. Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah was at the forefront of this historic verdict. In its aftermath, she continues to fight against children’s exposure to toxic levels of pollution.

Like many other concerned parents, Rosamund views the planned Silvertown Tunnel, connecting London’s Newham to Greenwich, as incompatible with clean air requirements.

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Living through Typhoon Ulysses, and waiting for The Big One 🌪

Persis Flores experienced mass flooding in the Philippines in 2020. Where does traditional aid fall short, and how do you live with extreme weather?

The Philippines is located along the Pacific typhoon belt, so you could say it’s unsurprising that 20 typhoons hit the country annually. In fact, in 2020 we got hit by 23 typhoons. And since October, the country has been hit by eight different storms including the most disastrous one which destroyed thousands of homes last November, Typhoon Ulysses.

The one I remember the most was Typhoon Ondoy back in 2009. I was a college junior at that time and my classmates and I were shooting a film for a project somewhere in Metro Manila. We finished around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and as we walked outside the building, the streets were covered in ankle-high flood.

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Putting down roots: gardens and emerging cities in Kurdistan 🌻

Meet the organisation greening refugee camps, mitigating some of the effects of displacement caused by conflict and climate.

A decade on from the outbreak of civil war in Syria, millions of displaced people still live in the camps they once viewed as temporary. As settlements planned for emergency shelter, sustainability is rarely built into the infrastructure of these camps, where immediate needs such as water, roads and power are prioritised.

However, with research estimating that 1 billion people could face displacement by 2050, increasingly due to climate change, it is clear that more integrated efforts for sustainable planning are needed in crisis settings. Refugees and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) find themselves living in camps for indefinite periods, often decades.

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👋 See you next week!