Prince Harry and Reinhold Mangundu have coauthored a Washington Post op-ed, which was published Thursday afternoon. Just days before Prince William hands out his Keenshot Awards on Sunday. Harry’s bonafides are that he is “co-founder of the nonprofit Archewell Foundation and president of African Parks, a nongovernmental organization.” Reinhold Mangundu “is a Namibian environmental activist, conservationist and poet.” The point of the op-ed is to “Protect the Okavango River Basin from corporate drilling.” The Okavango River flows through Angola, Namibia and Botswana, where it discharges into the Okavango Delta. The delta is a precious ecosystem for humans, plantlife and wildlife. And a Canadian corporation was just granted drilling rights to the river basin. From the op-ed:
The Okavango watershed is a natural beating heart that has nourished humans and wildlife in Southern Africa for generations — and it’s at risk. The rejuvenating waters of this complex and beautiful ecosystem — so vast it’s visible from space — ebb and flow from the highlands of Angola to the Okavango River in Namibia’s Kavango region, down to the protected Okavango Delta in Botswana. The Okavango is a force of life, providing the main source of water for nearly 1 million Indigenous and local people and some of the planet’s most majestic wildlife, including critically endangered species. Though drought-ridden for much of the year, the region averages 2.5 trillion gallons of water flow during flooding season.
But there is an imminent threat on the horizon: corporate oil drilling. The Okavango River Basin is under siege by ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil and gas company that has been granted licenses for exploratory drilling in an area of Namibia and Botswana larger than some European countries. We believe this would pillage the ecosystem for potential profit. Some things in life are best left undisturbed to carry out their purpose as a natural benefit. This is one of them.
We have both found sanctuary and inspiration in the Okavango, and the environmental effects of drilling are a critical concern. A recent pipeline leak off the coast of Southern California pumped more than 140,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific. In July, an oil company lit the ocean on fire in the Gulf of Mexico. There is no way to repair the damage from these kinds of mistakes. Drilling is an outdated gamble that reaps disastrous consequences for many, and incredible riches for a powerful few. It represents a continued investment in fossil fuels instead of renewable energies.
ReconAfrica said last year that it anticipates discovering up to 32 billion barrels of oil in the Okavango. Some estimates suggest a total closer to 120 billion barrels — as if this were a good thing.
That was just the first part of the op-ed. Further down, they revealed something I didn’t know: the Okavango Delta was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014. Which should mean something, and should come with some built in protections. It really would be like… drilling at the Grand Canyon. Yeah, ReconAfrica needs to shut this down. No way. Take that money and invest in green technology, for the love of God.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN.