Every single thing we do on this planet can bring about protest. For every decision we make, there can be another person who disagrees with it. Fair enough, it’s called freedom of speech, freedom of thought or democracy. There are times when protest occurs because of discrimination and the evil that men do. And there is a lot of that going on. Think Enron, starvation in Africa, the indiscriminate choice of who in the military will be sent to a foreign war, destruction of the rain forests and of late, Wall Street. The Occupy Wall Street protest found root in countries including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. A strong message is coming forth: those who have, who continue to have, have done so at the expense of those who have not – those who have lost money via financial institutions and those who continue to face an uncertain life because of a lack of financial resources. And then there is Europe… a real blight on life because of the continuing uncertainty of debt in countries like Greece and Spain… and the United Kingdom. The people who are having their social security trimmed, who have lost their jobs and are struggling to hang on have a point. They want to know why they have to suffer while the wealthy continue to exploit and reap the rewards. Let’s look at some other examples… tyrants like Muammar Gadaffi and Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, don’t exist anymore. For years they pillaged their country’s resources to look after their own, to build enormous financial reserves and assets to benefit their families and hangers – on. Remember Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania? He and his fellow officials had suits made for them out of third-rate materials to illustrate to their people how broke the country […]
by Elizabeth Becker The long-buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the barriers to women covering war. Kate Webb, an Australian iconoclast, Catherine Leroy, a French daredevil photographer, and Frances FitzGerald, a blue-blood American intellectual, arrived in Vietnam with starkly different life experiences but one shared purpose: to report on the most consequential story of the decade. At a time when women were considered unfit to be foreign reporters, Frankie, Catherine, and Kate challenged the rules imposed on them by the military, ignored the belittlement of their male peers, and ultimately altered the craft of war reportage for generations. In You Don’t Belong Here, Elizabeth Becker uses these women’s work and lives to illuminate the Vietnam War from the 1965 American buildup, the expansion into Cambodia, and the American defeat and its aftermath. Arriving herself in the last years of the war, Becker writes as a historian and a witness of the times. What emerges is an unforgettable story of three journalists forging their place in a land of men, often at great personal sacrifice. Deeply reported and filled with personal letters, interviews, and profound insight, You Don’t Belong Here fills a void in the history of women and of war.
Water as an enabler, not a competitor Driven by escalating competing demands, deteriorating quality (due to pollution), chronic under-investment, and exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, the world’s water resources constitute a system already pushed to the edge. Covid-19 only magnified its vulnerability, inequity, and insufficiency. As the world strives to bounce back from the social and economic toll of the pandemic, both the public and private sector will be forced to make tough decisions in prioritising and allocating resources across competing economic, social, and environmental commitments. Where in the growing line-up of priorities does water now stand? Before or after revitalising jobs, protecting the health of our citizens, promoting social justice, enhancing nature-positive economies, and achieving the Paris Climate Agreement in the “Race to Zero”? The key is not before or after, but “water stands together”. The question is not whether water is more or less important, but how can water be coupled together with other pressing issues to achieve multiple wins? Protecting against future pandemics Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic we face. The importance of water and hand hygiene are now well understood. Our ability to treat viruses however is also being compromised. Antimicrobial-resistance (AMR) – the human rejection of antibiotics – is a fast-growing threat, that diminishes the effectiveness of our healthcare system. Our growing use, direct and indirect consumption, and exposure to antibiotics is causing a rise in AMR. Across the main sources of discharge – hospital and community wastes, agricultural runoff, and by-products from pharmaceutical manufacturing – more and more active substances are finding their way into our aquatic environments without adequate wastewater treatment. Where access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities is limited, these waterbodies often serve as sources of drinking water or sanitation, leading to a perpetuating cycle. A forthcoming […]
Elvis Paul TangemCoordinator of the Great Green Wall Initiative, African Union Commission Elvis Lyonga EdimoCommunications Consultant, The Great Green Wall initiative is a reforestation project that aims to transform the lives of millions living on the frontline of the climate crisis. The goals of this African-led project are to restore 100 million hectares of land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million green jobs in rural areas. Once complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef. The Sahel is a 5,900 kilometer belt of land below the Sahara Desert, stretching across the breadth of Africa. It is a semi-arid region, known for its variable rainfall. The area has some of the world’s highest levels of poverty, and regular droughts and floods lead to shortages of food and drinking water. These in turn lead to humanitarian crises, and to migration. In the past, efforts to tackle these problems have often been based on simplistic assumptions. Led for the most part by international NGOs and civil society organisations, they have focused on finding financial or technological solutions to the poverty of communities in the area. They have largely ignored the wealth of knowledge that local people have about their natural surroundings. At their worst, such projects have actually exacerbated the problems. As communities don’t buy in to initiatives that haven’t considered their needs and priorities, many ended as soon as their staff and experts left. The Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative was initially conceived in 2007 as a reforestation project, which aimed to create a shield of trees to keep the desert at bay. However, it now has much broader and more ambitious goals. It aims to promote sustainable land and water management in the drylands […]
-by Samantha Power Tracing her distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official, Samantha Power’s acclaimed memoir is a unique blend of suspenseful storytelling, vivid character portraits, and shrewd political insight. After her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of Senator Barack Obama, he invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. When Obama won the presidency, Power went from being an activist outsider to serving as his human rights adviser and, in 2013, becoming the youngest-ever US Ambassador to the United Nations. Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy, offering a compelling and deeply honest look at navigating the halls of power while trying to put one’s ideals into practice. Along the way, she lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life, shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with raising two young children, and makes the case for how we each can advance the cause of human dignity. This is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism—and of one person’s fierce determination to make a difference.
A year ago, then-US President Donald Trump was obliged to abandon his plans for a G7 summit at the presidential retreat of Camp David outside Washington. Various excuses were advanced by participants, including the inadvisability of travelling across the world in the midst of a pandemic. But in reality few, if any, G7 leaders wanted to associate themselves with Trump in what was hoped would be the last days of an ill-starred presidency. A year later, these same leaders gathered at an English coastal retreat – in the shadow of a persistent COVID-19 pandemic – to celebrate the end of a disruptive chapter in diplomatic history. Relief was palpable in the interactions of representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. America was back, not in its “America First” guise, but as the proclaimed leader of the free world, to use an old-fashioned description. However, in the four years of the Trump presidency, during which Washington effectively abandoned its global leadership role in favour of an inward-looking posture defined by its embrace of an America First doctrine, the world had changed, and shifted dramatically. In 2016, the final year of the Obama administration, the G7 summit in Japan focused on the issue of climate in the wake of the Paris Agreement signed in April of that year. Its other priorities were disputes in the South China Sea and, interestingly enough, the need to strengthen a global response to pandemics in light of experiences with the Ebola virus in Africa. That global response has been found to be inadequate. This prompts the question: what notice did global health authorities, principally the World Health Organization, take of the G7’s 2016 communique? Five years later, the challenges identified in the 2016 document have been vastly magnified. This has been brought about by a combination of lack of […]