Published in January 2020

A new year and a new decade. The next 10 years are important and I find myself looking forward with a strange mix of anxiety and hope.

My anxiety comes from the widely reported view that we have less than 12 years to save the planet from the irreversible effects of climate change and widespread species extinction. The terrible bushfires in Australia, extensive droughts in Africa and flooding in parts of Europe bring daily reminders that weather patterns are changing. Regular reports over the previous decade have also made us aware of the threats to the plants and animals we share the planet with. The most recent report of global species decline suggests that a quarter of all known species is classified as red which means they are under threat. 

The science, we are told by the young and old active in the climate change debate, tells us that action must be taken in the next 12 years to keep these changes in the weather within reasonable limits. The same must be true for reducing the damaging pressures on nature. International summits over the next 18 months will determine whether the global community has the will to make that happen. Our leaders must face this challenge. Let’s hope they can.

Balancing that gloomy prognosis is my personal experience both at home and abroad of how modest changes can help people adapt to new weather patterns and limit future environmental degradation. For example, a recent Sand Dams Worldwide project, the Kitagezi sand dam in the Oldonyiro Conservancy in the Northern Rangelands of Kenya, means that despite dramatic reductions in rainfall, there is still enough water for farmers to stay in their historic communities with their livestock. Back in the UK, some species that were in decline are recovering thanks to innovative projects such as rewilding the landscape.

So, there are reasons to be cheerful. The public is more engaged in the debate about the environment and that means our political leaders are too. There is a hunger for individuals to ‘do their bit’. Many of you have done yours and helped us continue to invest in projects in Africa through our 2019 Big Give Christmas Challenge (where we raised a fantastic £108,285) and our Christmas fundraising campaign (which you can still donate to here). For all your support so far, we and the communities that we support, are hugely grateful.

It’s easy to get anxious about what the future holds. But worrying achieves little. We need to taking action to make a difference and, with your help, that’s what we will continue to do over the next decade.

Give a dam! Click here to make a donation to Sand Dams Worldwide so we can support people in drylands to transform their own lives with sand dams and lifelong access to clean water close to home