As 2021 comes to a close, we at Crude Accountability want to express our deep gratitude for the partnership and solidarity of our colleagues and supporters in the United States and around the world. Thank you for your intrepid support! Despite the ongoing global pandemic and its impact on our ability to travel and see our partners in person, this year has been one of unification and cooperation as we engaged in numerous exciting and fulfilling joint projects with our fellow defenders.
Here are a few examples of how we spent this busy year:
In September and October, Crude Accountability and FracTracker Alliance, our partner based in Pennsylvania, hosted a leadership program for young environmental activists from Eurasia and the United States. A new generation of environmental defenders eager to learn from each other and from “elders,” fully inspired the “teachers” with their curiosity, smarts, and courage. Although we met on Zoom, participants wholly appreciated the trainings on leadership skills, security protocols, group facilitation, fundraising, and more. The program enabled participants to build partnerships and friendships that will serve their activism and wellbeing in the coming years.
This past summer, we created a new project, Asia Plus, with our Kazakhstani colleagues at Argo and the Socio-Ecological Fund–civic groups based in Almaty–as part of a joint research effort to analyze the environmental impacts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia. We led virtual workshops, presented findings, and published a series of blog posts by local authors, focusing on different environmental challenges of the Belt and Road. You can read their perspectives here: https://crudeaccountability.org/asia-plus/
Expanding our efforts to monitor the social, human, and environmental consequences of China’s investments in Central Asia, we partnered with a group of independent writers, videographers, and journalists, who have named their work Just Journalism. The team documents the severe impacts of Chinese investments on communities in rural Kazakhstan, such as the grievous pollution of local water supplies by oil extraction. Information about these projects is scarce so our team gathers material by traveling to remote parts of the country, interviewing local residents and recording their discoveries. Like an archaeological team, they dig deep and convey these complex stories in engaging and accessible formats. Our partnership has produced two films–one on the compelling and urgent question of water and oil, and the other describing the effects of some of China’s most devastating projects on rural communities. You can watch the films here: https://youtu.be/oDKmEjh1pu4 and here: https://youtu.be/G4GGy0D8x-I.
To further fill the information gap about Chinese oil and gas ventures in Central Asia, last month we published a report on the environmental impact of Chinese Investments in Central Asia (https://crudeaccountability.org/wp-content/uploads/compressed_Road_to_China_Chinas-Oil-and-Gas-Ventures-in-Central-Asia.pdf). Drawing on our almost 20 years of experience cooperating with communities impacted by oil and gas development, the report focuses on how Chinese-led projects seriously degrade the lives of residents living near the petroleum sites.
Undeterred in our research efforts, Crude found new and innovative ways to gather information during this time when international travel is limited, and authoritarian regimes are cracking down even harder on our partners. In Azerbaijan, we partnered with Omanos Analytics, a UK-based organization that delivers satellite imagery analysis. We tracked pollution using satellite imagery to corroborate data we collected on the ground. This report is in the final stages of production and will be published in January 2022.
To demand accountability from one of the worst authoritarian regimes in the world, Turkmenistan, we published and presented a report in June on kleptocracy in Turkmenistan, the first of its kind about this closed and repressive nation. You can read the report here: https://crudeaccountability.org/turkmenistan-a-model-kleptocracy/. The report has been translated into Russian and Turkmen, and received over 37,000 mentions on Twitter.
Finally, this year we led efforts to raise critical concerns about the climate crisis within the Civic Solidarity Platform, an international coalition of NGOs from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) region. We spoke about climate at a virtual conference marking 30 years of the OSCE in October: https://crudeaccountability.org/climate-justice-working-group-the-osce-should-take-more-robust-action-to-address-climate-crisis/. On December 2, the OSCE participating states announced they would work on climate and security, and we were thrilled to see our influence in action.
We are deeply grateful for your support, and truly could not have accomplished this work without YOU! We ask you to contribute to Crude Accountability in whatever amount you can: https://crudeaccountability.org/support-crude/. Thank you in advance!
With best wishes for happy, healthy holidays,
Kate Watters Leanne Grossman
Executive Director Chair, Board of Directors