18 March 2011
Three boys, probably about ten years old, are standing round a table. They are concentrating intently, jabbing at a touch screen. Suddenly there is a huge sigh of relief. They pull back and turn around, with huge grins across their faces: “Mum. Muuuuuuuuuum. Look Mum — we met the emissions reduction target!”It is half term and I have come to check out the Science Museum’s new £4.5 million climate science exhibition, atmosphere.So are there lessons to be learnt from this example about public engagement with climate science?
15 March 2011
The world’s food systems are being squeezed from all sides: rising populations and shifting diets are increasing the global demand for food, while food production is increasingly compromised by climate change and land degradation.
11 March 2011
Issues of transparency and anti-corruption are front and centre following recent events in the Middle East. The timing of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative 5th Global Conference last week could not have been better.
8 March 2011
Millions of people across the developing world depend on land for their livelihoods, culture and identity — a connection that now risks being undermined by large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
4 March 2011
Since the recent global financial crises, the phrase ‘green economy’ has appeared liberally in newspaper headlines, and politicians’ and CEOs’ promises. They usually mean ‘low-carbon economy’, the idea of shifting energy and infrastructure towards clean, high-tech systems. Green economy is seen as an answer to financial problems – G20 stimulus packages included ‘green’ components, hoping to improve national competitiveness and create new jobs through green technology, and wean economies off insecure and expensive fossil fuels. And it is seen as a practical way to supplement climate change conventions – you don’t need an international agreement to change economic practices that cause climate change. All very good news for Danish wind farm installers, Japanese hybrid car manufacturers, and Chinese solar panel factories. But what does the green economy mean for the developing world?
24 February 2011
In the run up to Nigeria’s April elections the political lobbying, with the usual round of underhand payments for support, has Nigerians hoping for a fairer competition in the grab for power. The political process is being increasingly scrutinised by the average citizen — with record numbers of people registering to vote and self-formed citizens groups promising to monitor polling stations. Another type of power — electricity, or ‘light’ as most Nigerians call it — and the lack of it is one of the hot potato election issues on everyone’s lips.
24 February 2011
A meeting of the Forest Connect alliance reaffirms that it is local forest people that are best placed to reduce deforestation all over the world — provided they are given the right incentives. That means clear commercial rights to the forest and support to develop profitable and sustainable forest businesses.
18 February 2011
This week saw the launch of Fairtraded and Fairmined gold in the UK. Twenty companies in the UK will use the gold and even Kate Middleton — recently betrothed to Prince William — may get a Fairtrade wedding band. I wrote a blog article in August last year that looked at some of the potential pitfalls and challenges of a Fairtrade gold market. These lessons — from the agricultural sector — are still valid and should be kept in mind through the hype of this new certified market for gold. But certification within a chain also means ‘formalisation’ of that chain, which will require miners to meets certain standards. A commonly held assumption is that formalisation of the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector is a positive move. But can we be so sure?
8 February 2011
The Fish Fights campaign, headed by old-Etonian turned sustainable food champion Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, has been making waves in the UK, drawing attention towards the upcoming EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform in 2013. Celebrity involvement in campaigning is nothing new but has recently been attracting a lot of attention in the development blogosphere. Celebrities have helped publicise Fish Fights, but what next for the campaign?
3 February 2011
A new report from the United Kingdom finds that securing food supplies in 2050 means growing more food, on the same land, with fewer impacts. That requires shifts in policy and practice that we can achieve using a mix of politics, science and market forces.