Prince Harry coauthors a WaPo op-ed on protecting the Okavango delta from drilling

Royal visit to Africa - Day Five

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 Drilling is an outdated gamble that reaps disastrous consequences for many, and incredible riches for a powerful few.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.

[From WaPo]

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.

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Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN.

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90 Responses to “Prince Harry coauthors a WaPo op-ed on protecting the Okavango delta from drilling”

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  1. Pao says:

    I signed the open letter and i hope others will too. This cannot become a Niger delta 2.0.

  2. Noki says:

    Haha i feel like we are watching ping pong with these news cycles. But honestly this is how it should have been, both couples shining and highlighting their work of interest at the same or various times without the response being ‘dont steal my thunder.’ What a missed opportunity!

    • Joan says:

      Exactly!

    • myjobistoprincess says:

      That would be nice. What would also be nice and I hope we’ll come to see it in the future, is Prince William publicly approving Harry’s moves and Harry approving William’s.

      • TeamMeg says:

        Ditto 💯

      • PrincessK says:

        That would be the best outcome. William had the opportunity to do that when he was interviewed earlier this week and criticised people going into space. He acknowledged Prince Charles efforts but did not mention his brother.

    • Christine says:

      Who knew it would take Harry getting married to make Wills at least recognize he needs to appear to care about anything?

    • aftershocks says:

      @Noki, the problem with the ‘missed opportunity’ scenario is that Cain and Unable, aka the Lamebridges, are too petty, insecure, jealous, selfish, and lazy. They had hoped to piggyback on Harry’s ideas and initiatives forever, while keeping him relegated to ‘spare, third-wheel’ status forever.

      W&K didn’t want Harry to find someone and settle down to building a family of his own. Much less did they ever expect to see Harry find someone of Meghan’s beauty, brilliance, competence, classiness, and superb work ethic.

      Therefore, it was never going to work, never. Sadly, but that’s a fact. No matter M&H’s enthusiasm and how hard they tried, it’s W&K who were and are the embittered spoilsports. They didn’t want to share royal space with Harry and his ‘bad bitch,’ Meghan.

      The Lamebridges could not and will not get over their petty, mean-spirited selfishness. It’s useless for any of us as observers to keep re-examining, and sentimentally wishing for a royal life that might have worked for the Sussexes. Nothing was ever going to work. This drama is the story of Cain and Abel being played out in the 21st-century with a toxic royal twist.

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        @aftershocks, love your post. Your 2nd paragraph illustrates why W & K were so threated by Meghan on so many levels. Between the army and Meghan, Harry really developed confidence, self-awareness and self-actualization in himself as a separate entity from the BRF and being the scapegoat to his brother and Kate’s one-sided flirtation device/ 3rd wheel in the funky W & K relationship. Will & Kate did not like Harry having someone more important in his life then them. And that is their sad mentality. I remember Will’s statement (3 weeks later and only when he was dragged on social media for his nothingness) after Harry’s November 8?, 2016 statement about Meghan and the media attacks. Minimal effort at best trying to cover his ass. If my sibling put out that statement after mine I’d be like WTF. Will’s statement was bad word salad and incorrigible. Yea, thanks brother for saying nothing and embracing the invisible contract f%ckers.
        “The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.”. Way to NOT support your brother, Will. The same BM that have repeatedly pointed out that Harry should support Will. Unfortunately, support only goes one way in that messed up family.

        Excellent op-ed and Harry cares. And for those on twitter and people wanting to praise Earthshot-remember the Goldman Evironmental Prize that’s been around for a very long time.
        https://www.goldmanprize.org/

      • aftershocks says:

        @Agreatreckoning said:
        “I remember Will’s statement (3 weeks later…) after Harry’s November 8?, 2016 statement about Meghan and the media attacks. Minimal effort [by Will] at best trying to cover his ass…”

        I completely agree with you, and thanks for your further reflections. I had forgotten about Will/TOB’s lame statement released after the tabloids began spouting that Will was against Harry having put out that press release supporting his girlfriend, Meghan.

        You’re right, Harry made that no-holds-barred statement on November 8, 2016, ironically the day after the U.S. presidential election when Hillary lost and I was totally depressed. That’s a big reason why I’ll never forget the date! Harry clearly confirmed his relationship with a gorgeous and successful American actor, whose maternal heritage is African American!!! Whoa! Stop the presses! This was exciting and charming news, no matter what happened going foward. I was all-in from then on in following M&H’s intriguing courtship. It was a lovely distraction that helped ease my depression over the sad U.S. presidential election.

        The biggest thing I understood right away from Harry’s gutsy warning to the tabs and paps, is that he was involved in a serious relationship. His statement was ballsy and unprecedented. He was showing Meghan and the world just how willing he was and how far he would go to protect her.

        Harry famously told the UK media to ‘back the fcuk off,’ with their racist fcukery. And the rota rats didn’t like it. That was why they started pulling Willy boy’s chains. LOL! Then Wills put out that lame half-assed denial of being against Harry’s statement. Clearly, Willy TOB’s petty world salad meant the very opposite of what it said. Will ‘absolutely’ did not support Harry’s statement, nor his new relationship with his girlfriend, Meghan!

        Will’s tepid, convoluted wording actually meant that Harry should have remained silent, and that he should remember to ‘support those who are really the closest to him.’ Will meant Harry should not forget he was born to be the spare, and therefore he must perpetually support his older bro, the FFK of the British monarchy!

        Just wow, looking back with what we now know, and understanding the deeper nuances that were playing out behind-the-scenes. Harry has truly come into his own, and is able to now do so much more on an independent basis, like this Okavango advocacy, without TOB latching on, trying to take credit.

  3. Jan says:

    Please don’t start with he is trying to overshadow Cain.
    He is the President of African Parks and they know he can bring World wide attention to this.
    Almost like GQ reaching out to him in the US to present an award to the Drs. who produced the Covid19 vaccine in England.

    • Layla says:

      You can’t compete where there is no competition.
      One is fab while the other is drab

      (The competition only exists in novelty-painted egg’s head because he is that insecure)

    • The Hench says:

      Correct. He’s not trying to overshadow Cain. It’s William who spends his time obsessed with H&M. But, unfortunately, we will also need to brace for the British Media now going into indignant meltdown – not about the thing that actually matters , the imminent threat to this amazing eco-system but about the “How dare Harry try and overshadow Heirless’ big Earthshot thingy this weekend etc etc”

      Sigh.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ The Hench, we have the constant tit-for-tat tally that the RR, the courtiers and the jealous members of the Royal family, Cain and Unable, who are the ones pushing this narrative.

        Harry is working with partnerships around the globe that are close to his heart and have been working with each other for years. It’s not Harry’s fault that Cain is lazy, jealous and petty to the point of wanting to harm and endanger Harry, and Meghan. No, Cain doesn’t want Harry to become a symbol of true leadership, as Cain in unable to garner the smallest amount of coverage OR enthusiasm as Cain actually, deep down to his bones doesn’t care! Cain cares about himself and himself only. The only reason that Cain finally started taking on more responsibilities is solely due to Harry. The Royal family should be thanking Harry for getting Cain out of the bushes and having him making apprearanes.

    • goofpuff says:

      Well, the good thing about the british media going into meltdown is that it will get this issue more coverage.

      • L4frimaire says:

        Are they really bothered about this? There is a global climate conference coming up so it’s timely to mention it. I’m currently listening to NPR on a similar topic with someone from the Indigenous Environmental Network talking about with communities objecting to oil exploration and fossil fuel production on their lands.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      @Jan, right. I don’t believe Harry is paying attention to what Will is doing. It’s part of the process of living a mentally healthier life. You live your own life doing your own thing. As odd as it seems with both being in the public spectre, you can shut out external noise.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    As he and his co author said drilling for oil has had its day. We should be moving away oil production and going into renewable energy. I saw a few royalists who were upset that this piece came out when William is promoting his Earthshot prize but they shouldn’t be. Last I checked people can pay attention to more than one thing at a time. Also, I get the feeling this is what Harry always wanted to be – an activist and campaigner so I’m happy he’s getting to do that now.

    • Lorelei says:

      @AmyBee they’ll act as if Harry planned the timing to overshadow William, when in fact it’s the WaPo that decides when to run it. And even if Harry did have a say re: the publication date (which he does not!) and if he did do this solely for the purpose of annoying his brother (which he also did not!!), he wouldn’t have even known what was on William’s schedule today; they no longer coordinate their diaries. It’s a total coincidence but the headlines will all be denigrating Harry and acting like it was a “stunt.”

  5. OriginalLala says:

    Drilling for oil belongs to the past. I’m ashamed it’s a Canadian company wanting to do this.

  6. Lizzie says:

    Healthy people; It’s nice the brothers are both working to save the planet. Dysfunctional people; If you take a similar position then you are trying to steal from me.

    • Churchill says:

      I only see one brother working to save the planet. The other is making hypocritical, tone-deaf comments about the conduct of billionaires while commuting in a helicopter and grandstanding on the accomplishments of others.

  7. Jan says:

    I’m so glad that Harry don’t have the shackles of the BRF and the Courtiers controlling his work and schedules.
    He is really a busy man, children, jobs and appearances.

  8. Becks1 says:

    This op-ed was very well written in my opinion. I had no idea they wanted to drill in the Okavango. Hopefully this gets traction, love to see Harry doing things like this.

    And because I’m petty, I’ll say it – William got USA Today, Harry gets Washington Post, lol.

    • Pao says:

      Its actually kind of painful to see this get so little traction.

      • Ginger says:

        A lot of people are sharing this. Ellen DeGeneres and Mia Farrow to name a few. I have seen it shared by a bunch of non royalists. It’s definitely getting attention.

      • Fanciful says:

        I read about it in several non royal news services/newspapers today

      • Pao says:

        @ginger: lets agree to disagree on this because the Ellen tweet reached about 1500 likes.Which is quite little for her amount of followers and the fact that she’s such a big name. Not to mention she tweeted it 14h ago (at the time of writing this). Equally the mia farrow tweet only got about 1300 likes.

      • Seaflower says:

        Leo DiCaprio shared it

      • MrsBump says:

        agreed, this is the first i’ve heard of this, its barely even getting traction here.
        people only care about the drama or what brother is winning what today, this is one of the reasons that im always skeptical about celebrity activism. no matter the good intentions of the celebrity, the spotlight remains firmly on them, with at best a dim reflection on the issue at hand. In some cases, this dim reflection is better than nothing, but really it’s a sad indictment of our society.
        i’ll sign the petition.

      • MrsBump says:

        @Seaflower
        From what i understand Leo DiCaprio is one of the founders of re:wild and they are the ones behind this petition.

      • Pao says:

        @mrsbump: This isn’t necessarily about which brother is winning (eventhough most of W’s environmental work is half assed) because the environment IS an important topic and the more people talk about it the better. But if it were a competition i would say william is winning. At least his words are actually getting attention. Even on this website william is currently getting more attention that harry’s op ed.

      • Becks1 says:

        The Cambridge posts often get more comments on this site than Sussex posts because we love to drag them, lol. There’s only so many times we can say “yay, we love Harry and Meghan!” but we can find lots of ways to mock William, lol.

        Anyway i’m seeing this shared all over twitter so I think it’s getting traction for sure.

      • Pao says:

        @becks1; negative engagement is still engagement and only helps him spread is words.

      • L4frimaire says:

        @Pao, What does that even mean? Well Pao, guess you’ll just have to feel the pain then. Glad you an straighten the rest of us wayward posters out on this.

      • Edith says:

        Pao, i am beggining to think that you are a troll. Harry’s okavango is getting huge attraction world wide.

    • LMR says:

      @Becks1, I am petty too, so I will also point out that Harry did his own work instead of signing his name to Mike Bloomberg’s work.

  9. Cessily says:

    I hope everyone signs.. all these oil companies have shown how little they care about the environment they have ruined the Gulf of Mexico.. I won’t eat seafood caught there or swim in it anymore.. the most recent disaster happened in the Pacific Ocean.. the drilling needs to be stopped.

    • Pao says:

      Exactly. I hope everyone signs the open letter and something can actually be done before its too late.

    • Cessily says:

      A link for any who wish to add their names..

      https://twitter.com/rewild/status/1448726726910021638?s=21

      • SarahCS says:

        Thanks for the link, I know that $$$ are almighty but how is this even being considered in 2021? I’m horrified.

    • Lorelei says:

      @Cessily what I’ve never understood is how so many of the people doing things like this are already so mindnumbingly wealthy…not only would they never have to work another day in their lives if they chose not to, but their children and grandchildren, etc. are set for life as well. Where does the greed end?? How many houses/yachts/cars/whatever could some of these oil execs possibly need? It’s so, so gross. No amount is ever enough, they always want more.

      • goofpuff says:

        Because for those people, the amount of money is never enough. they always want more.

      • Cessily says:

        I will never understand it either.. I think big business and empires have raped Africa of enough of their natural resources it needs to stop.

  10. Mich says:

    OMG. They want to drill the Delta? I am heartbroken. It is my favorite place on Earth. The wildlife lost if this goes forward is incomprehensible.

  11. Chelsea says:

    Yeah, the fact that the delta is a UNESCO heritage site, but this contract was signed was surprising to me when I read it. I mean we know oil companies are going to stick their heels in, but for a site like this that is so world renowned you’d think the risk to biodiversity and the surrounding communities would be too much to go through with but a las. Harry’s been there multiple times while doing various conservation work and i think he’s taken Meghan there too so not surprising that he’s signed on to this.

    There will be some people upset about the timing but i imagine they wanted to launch this for the lead up to COP26 as there are a lot of local activists and some international stars like Leonardo Decaprio and Forest Whitaker signed on to this.

  12. BnlurkN4ever says:

    I signed the petition for this because this is truly important and I hope this area can be protected. We can do better energy wise, we do not need to destroy this habitat for more oil when there’s alternative. Human life will be affected as well as animal life and it’s unforgivable to go forward with drilling in this area. I support Prince Harry’s quest to preserve the Okavango and what a wonderful oped.

  13. MsIam says:

    Signed!

  14. Moxylady says:

    Signed

  15. rawiya says:

    “And a Canadian corporation was just granted drilling rights to the river basin.” Oh, Canada. Stop this! Evil country of mine.

    • L4frimaire says:

      The Alberta tar sands is an environmental hellscape that can be seen from space ( see William, space technology can benefit the planet), and it was a Canadian company that wanted to bring the Keystone XL pipeline through the US. We talk about saving the planet and the technology to do it, but when it comes down to it, even countries that should know better and do better, want that oil and gas revenue. As for these countries given access to the delta, they can look at the Niger Delta or Guinea Bissau to see how this will turn out, both environmentally and in terms of how the people have fared economically. This will create a few more millionaires/ billionaires, who will use it to buy pricey foreign real estate and put in offshore shell companies, but will do nothing to improve health, wealth, or education for the people there.

  16. Eurydice says:

    I thought ReconAfrica started exploratory drilling back in January. And there’s no need to be coy about the drilling licenses – they were granted by the Botswanan and Namibian governments. Oh, and the licensed area includes a huge conservation park.

  17. Kfg says:

    Who owns the company? They do these things on the African continent bc they don’t value non-white people. People of the global majority are expendable. We should go after the owners and investors in the company and sue.

  18. Sofia says:

    I’m glad he gave a practical way for people to show support (signing an open letter). An op-Ed would have been fine but the open letter being linked is a good, one step above.

  19. Margaret says:

    Signed.

  20. Nyro says:

    Signed yesterday.

  21. Gemgirlaaa says:

    If you’ve never been through Texas or Louisiana to see drilling and fracking for yourself, it’s a h3llscape nightmare.

    Bright lights 24/7, burning flames, thousands of trucks carrying water and sand. Just when you think you’ve hit a ray of hope for the future, you realize the windmills and solar you see are what’s powering the oilfields. It’s beyond sickening.

    And then there are the men. All men. I was legit frightened being out of the car alone with my dog at a rest area. I can handle myself, but not when there are pickups full of them that have circled back. Thankfully, my husband came out because…OMG.

    Anyway, there’s a human cost to drilling and mining. Not just for the planet, for women. I know there are problems, but we need to move forward with green energy right now. Tick Tock…we are running out time.

  22. BW says:

    Wow! Harry and Reinhold should win a Keenshot award for this. (evil laugh)

  23. Plums says:

    honestly, the competition angle doesn’t make any sense to me because Earthshot and this op ed really seem to fit well together? Like, William’s advocating for investing in moving to a green future and fixing the climate crisis generally, and here’s Harry highlighting a specific cause that is under that umbrella issue. Honestly, the BM and the palace is stupid for not taking the opportunity to cross promote.

  24. candy says:

    This is so great, good job Harry! There are so many places in the world that are just being obliterated by greed.

  25. Jaded says:

    This is a GREAT article from National Geographic online that proves ReconAfrica is skirting some very serious issues, and many organizations and eco-warriors are demanding an immediate halt to any further drilling. As a Canadian I am horrified that this has been allowed to take place and I’m grateful Harry has highlighted this utter travesty. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/oil-gas-test-drilling-begins-namibia-okavango-region

  26. Angela Ioannou says:

    Thank you Prince Harry for continuing the fight to preserve areas , wildlife and communities in Africa which will be destroyed in the name of greed. Hope more people and politicians support your valuable cause.

  27. duchess of hazard says:

    How in the hell did a government approve this? I just… WHAT? Especially with what we know now about climate change and environmental catastrophies.

  28. BeanieBean says:

    I signed the petition. As for drilling in a World Heritage Site, how can that happen, and it would be like drilling in the Grand Canyon…well, don’t count on the National Park Service. They’ve allowed oil drilling in Big Cypress National Preserve since the beginning; it’s in the foundation document & founding legislation. They also allowed some thermal drilling in Crater Lake National Park. They allow for gas & oil drilling in several parks in Alaska. And so on. It happens.

  29. Bread and Circuses says:

    I took a canoe ride through part of the Okavango Delta as part of a tour, and it is the most lovely, idyllic natural area. Yes, keep it safe!