Hope in a Changing Climate

Submitted by Julia Barrott | published 7th Mar 2016 | last updated 12th Oct 2021
Also in Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Polish, Russian, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese (see further resources)
Movie cover


Hope in a Changing Climate is a documentary co-produced by The Open University and the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) for BBC World NewsIt reframes the debate on global warming by illustrating that large, decimated ecosystems can be restored. Success stories from Ethiopia, Rwanda and China prove that bringing large, decimated areas back from environmental ruin is possible, and the results are key to stabilising the earth’s climate, eradicating poverty and making sustainable agriculture a reality.

This BBC World documentary demonstrates that it is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems, to restore ecosystem functions in areas where they have been lost, to fundamentally improve the lives of people who have been trapped in poverty for generations and to sequester carbon naturally.

This approach has been dramatically proven on the Loess Plateau in China, the highland area spanning some 640,000 square km in north central China (roughly the size of Belgium), where thousands of years of subsistence farming had resulted in a barren and infertile landscape. In 1995 the Chinese Government, with support from The World Bank, took drastic action to rehabilitate the plateau, and local people – seen as both perpetuators and victims of the devastation – became part of the solution. It is the birthplace of the Han Chinese, headwaters of The Yellow River and home to a new environmental and economic paradigm: this degraded ecosystem of more than 35,000 square km of land now teems with life and supports the sustainable economic, social and agricultural activities of its people. 

Presented by John D. Liu, founder of the EEMP and creator of the film Lessons of the Loess Plateau, the film also uncovers the dramatic impact of similar projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda. Once the scene of devastating droughts in 1984, Ethiopia has used the same approach as that in China to begin bringing areas of arid land back to productivity and ecological balance. In Rwanda, where ecological degradation from over-farming of wetland areas saw the near failure of the country’s hydroelectricity supply, the Government has undertaken a similar project and seen vast improvements.

Further resources