“It is important to focus our attention on the people who fight and lead the way”


The desert advances, but how much? What are the consequences? This Monday, April 4 at 9:00 p.m., the France 5 survey entitled “When the desert approaches” gives the floor to those who face the phenomenon.

Inside “in the forehead», Hugo Clement It goes to meet the women and men who are fighting to stop the advance of the desert expanses. For this, the journalist goes to the Sahara, Mauritania, Namibia, the United Arab Emirates or Senegal.

TELEVISION MAGAZINE. – Why did you want to investigate the desert?

Hugo CLEMENT. -We decided to launch this survey last year at the same time there was a pretty impressive sirocco episode about the Alps. We told ourselves that we were going to go back to the source of this sand, first to understand what could change for us, and then to meet the women and men who are in the front line against the progression of the desert, and who face the direct effects of climate change.

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The documentary explains that the surface of the Sahara has increased by 10% in a century. In concrete terms, what problems does this advance in the desert pose?

There are very concrete consequences for the people who live in these desert areas and who see their houses buried, certain towns that must be completely abandoned to later rebuild the city because it is difficult to stop the advance of the desert. Some countries are not yet desert areas but they see this sand progressing and try to resist by planting millions of trees. This is what we have seen, in particular, in Senegal. So we wanted to know if there was an impact of this sand that reaches us, that is deposited in particular in our mountains. A snow scientist tells us that this greatly accelerates the melting of the Alps, for example.

“What I remember from my meetings with those who fight so that the desert does not advance any further is that you never have to give up”

Hugo Clement

The documentary is also interested in the people who manage to live in these arid areas…

We wanted to understand how they adapt. Unfortunately, more and more people around the world will be affected by this arid and dry climate. In France, according to the projections of scientists, we will have an arid climate, especially in the south, with increasingly important periods of drought, a certain type of vegetation that will disappear because it is no longer suitable. We wanted to understand how to deal with this type of modification.

What do you remember about your meetings with those who fight so that the desert does not advance any further?

That you should never let go. Their struggle is unequal and in some areas a bit lost, but they continue to defend their lands. We see it in Chinguetti in Mauritania: they do not want to leave these territories in which their people developed. I also remember that we are very lucky at the moment in France to live in a climate that is still relatively friendly. When we see these people struggling daily with buckets and spades to keep their house from being swallowed, we realize how lucky we can be to live in France and how much easier conditions these people find there. I have a lot of admiration for them, for this form of conviction and this desire to fight against elements that are stronger than us.

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You released “Sur le front” in 2019. Today, after 19 issues, would you say you are more optimistic or pessimistic?

Rather optimistic. “On the Frontlines” is with people who do things, who fight and have projects to protect the environment, who fight for species, for places. Since we launched this program, it is very important for us to highlight the people who fight and show us the way, guide us to move towards a world that is more respectful of the living, in general. Being permanently on the ground with these people is an invaluable opportunity because it allows us to maintain optimism and hope. So, obviously, I’m not going to tell you that it’s always happy because there is also a lot of bad news, a lot of investigations that squeeze our throats or our hearts because what we discover is abominable, but we are in the action. we are on the ground with them. We tell ourselves that we cannot be pessimistic and give up when we see all these wonderful people fighting in France and around the world. Afterwards, this does not prevent us from being realistic and listening to what the scientists say. Yes, clearly, I think we are at a crucial moment for humanity. Many scientists say that we are in a decisive decade, especially in terms of biodiversity. It’s normal to be worried, it’s normal to be alarmist, it’s absolutely necessary to keep shouting these warning signs to encourage politicians and businesses to act, but that doesn’t stop me from being hopelessly optimistic.

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