How do energy resources in post-conflict regions affect peace-building efforts? How can years of video footage from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) help us to understand and communicate the connections between political stability, natural resources and human and environmental health?
To answer those questions, a Bass Connections project team, Exploring the Intersection of Energy and Peace-building through Film, digitized, cataloged and explored over a decade of UNEP footage from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and other countries.
Drawing on this rich source of material, the team created short films to shed light on the complex relationship between post-conflict regions and their physical environment.
Today, the final versions of four short films are available online for educators, policy-makers, documentarians and anyone interested in the impact of civil unrest on the environment. They provide insights into the effects of armed conflict on local natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; access to clean water in refugee camps; water and soil contamination in Nigeria; and UNEP’s collaboration with the community of Ogoniland to address environmental pollution.
Crude Oil, produced by Phia Sennett, Cassie Yuan, Meghan O’Neil and Yi Ying Teh, won the Oliver W. Koonz Prize for Best Alternative Project. This honor recognized the team’s work in addressing critical issues surrounding human rights in the Niger Delta.
In addition to long hours of editing footage, Bass Connections team members met with policy experts and documentary filmmakers, who provided deeper insights into environmental peace-building efforts as well as strategies for visually communicating these complexities. The team also conducted interviews with United Nations, which they incorporated into their films in order to better contextualize the footage’s visual illustrations of conflict reduction, energy resource management and environmental management efforts. They also traveled to Washington, DC, to attend the Environmental Film Festival, an annual event that offered a sampling of ways other filmmakers approach and express similarly complex topics.