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Climate as resource and challenge: international cooperation in the UNESCO Arid Zone Programme

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Climate as resource and challenge : international cooperation in the UNESCO Arid Zone Programme. / Heymann, Matthias.

In: European Review of History, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2020, p. 294-320.

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@article{b886709bc9f344a3bba8fd53ff87b113,
title = "Climate as resource and challenge: international cooperation in the UNESCO Arid Zone Programme",
abstract = "Perceptions of climatic challenges have changed significantly during the twentieth century. In recent decades, the question of global climate change received more attention than regional climatic challenges and the problems of arid regions. Historians have shown that persistent misconceptions and a lack of understanding of arid zones rooted in misguided colonial ideologies were propagated by United Nations (UN) initiatives such as the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Arid Zone Programme. Alarmist narratives of progressive desertification proliferated and put the blame on destructive local practices such as deforestation and overgrazing. This article investigates UNESCO{\textquoteright}s interests in natural resources (section 1) and takes a closer look at the development and scientific elements of the Arid Zone Programme (sections 2 and 3). It argues that the Arid Zone Programme offered an effective framework that helped develop and spread new interdisciplinary research approaches to improve knowledge about arid zones. The myth of progressing desertification and misguided colonial expertise characterized much of its political rhetoric, but not its scientific work, which reflected balanced and more critical appraisals of out-dated colonial expertise. In its conclusion, the article suggests that broader contexts need to be taken into account to understand a resurgence of alarmist narratives of desertification such as shifting interests in climatology from local climatic issues to the global atmospheric circulation and a neglect of the climatology of arid zones.",
keywords = "Arid Zone Programme, climate and food security, climatological research, perceptions of climate, resource perceptions, UNESCO",
author = "Matthias Heymann",
year = "2020",
doi = "10.1080/13507486.2020.1737649",
language = "English",
volume = "27",
pages = "294--320",
journal = "European Review of History",
issn = "1350-7486",
publisher = "Taylor & Francis ",
number = "3",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Climate as resource and challenge

T2 - international cooperation in the UNESCO Arid Zone Programme

AU - Heymann, Matthias

PY - 2020

Y1 - 2020

N2 - Perceptions of climatic challenges have changed significantly during the twentieth century. In recent decades, the question of global climate change received more attention than regional climatic challenges and the problems of arid regions. Historians have shown that persistent misconceptions and a lack of understanding of arid zones rooted in misguided colonial ideologies were propagated by United Nations (UN) initiatives such as the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Arid Zone Programme. Alarmist narratives of progressive desertification proliferated and put the blame on destructive local practices such as deforestation and overgrazing. This article investigates UNESCO’s interests in natural resources (section 1) and takes a closer look at the development and scientific elements of the Arid Zone Programme (sections 2 and 3). It argues that the Arid Zone Programme offered an effective framework that helped develop and spread new interdisciplinary research approaches to improve knowledge about arid zones. The myth of progressing desertification and misguided colonial expertise characterized much of its political rhetoric, but not its scientific work, which reflected balanced and more critical appraisals of out-dated colonial expertise. In its conclusion, the article suggests that broader contexts need to be taken into account to understand a resurgence of alarmist narratives of desertification such as shifting interests in climatology from local climatic issues to the global atmospheric circulation and a neglect of the climatology of arid zones.

AB - Perceptions of climatic challenges have changed significantly during the twentieth century. In recent decades, the question of global climate change received more attention than regional climatic challenges and the problems of arid regions. Historians have shown that persistent misconceptions and a lack of understanding of arid zones rooted in misguided colonial ideologies were propagated by United Nations (UN) initiatives such as the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Arid Zone Programme. Alarmist narratives of progressive desertification proliferated and put the blame on destructive local practices such as deforestation and overgrazing. This article investigates UNESCO’s interests in natural resources (section 1) and takes a closer look at the development and scientific elements of the Arid Zone Programme (sections 2 and 3). It argues that the Arid Zone Programme offered an effective framework that helped develop and spread new interdisciplinary research approaches to improve knowledge about arid zones. The myth of progressing desertification and misguided colonial expertise characterized much of its political rhetoric, but not its scientific work, which reflected balanced and more critical appraisals of out-dated colonial expertise. In its conclusion, the article suggests that broader contexts need to be taken into account to understand a resurgence of alarmist narratives of desertification such as shifting interests in climatology from local climatic issues to the global atmospheric circulation and a neglect of the climatology of arid zones.

KW - Arid Zone Programme

KW - climate and food security

KW - climatological research

KW - perceptions of climate

KW - resource perceptions

KW - UNESCO

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85087404332&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/13507486.2020.1737649

DO - 10.1080/13507486.2020.1737649

M3 - Journal article

AN - SCOPUS:85087404332

VL - 27

SP - 294

EP - 320

JO - European Review of History

JF - European Review of History

SN - 1350-7486

IS - 3

ER -