Throughout history, humans have been afflicted by diseases transmitted from animals. The current coronavirus outbreak is the latest to have taken place in recent years from the 1998 Nipah virus in Malaysia to the 2014 Ebola virus across West Africa.
Over the past decade, the World Health Organization has declared four global health emergencies and research reveals outbreaks are becoming more common. How do diseases transmit from animals to humans and why are we seeing an increase around the world?
Tim Benton: The fundamental job of pathogens throughout evolution has been to maximize their chances of infecting susceptible organisms.
Pathogens can live in lots of different host organisms and so they are continually looking for an opportunity to jump from one species to another.… Seguir leyendo »
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security – the first to recognize the important role of women in peacebuilding. How did the resolution come into being and how significant was its adoption in 2000?
Well it has quite an amazing history that goes back to other UN resolutions, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, which were passed in the 1960s and came into force in the 1970s. These were some of the biggest covenants on human and civil rights at the time but it was only later that people realised, that those who passed them, did not assume that they applied to women.… Seguir leyendo »
Michelle Bachelet, as a young woman you became involved with political issues, supporting Chile’s transition to democracy following the Augusto Pinochet regime. What sparked your interest in politics and what was it like for you as a young woman in Chile at this time?
I guess it’s related to the environment that I lived in as a child because none of my parents were involved in politics but they were people who were interested in what happened to other people. We would have interesting discussions about what was going on in Chile and around the world and I had grown up being a person who wanted to be part of finding solutions to different challenges.… Seguir leyendo »
One-quarter of humanity faces a looming water crisis, including the prospect of running out of water, which may seem inconceivable when 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is water. Yet up to 80 per cent of available surface and groundwater is being used every year and water demand globally is projected to increase by 55 per cent by 2050.
Why is the world facing a crisis of water scarcity and what is driving the increasing demand for water?
The first reason that is causing water stress around the world is the growing human population at the same time as the water supply has remained the same.… Seguir leyendo »
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall, which stood between 1961 to 1989, came to symbolize the ‘Iron Curtain’ – the ideological split between East and West – that existed across Europe and between the two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union, and their allies, during the Cold War. How significant was the Berlin Wall during the Cold War – was it more important physically or psychologically?
The Berlin Wall was important physically, as well as psychologically, because Berlin was the only city that was divided physically by the Cold War between the Soviet Union and its allies in the Eastern Bloc and the West.… Seguir leyendo »
Julia Gillard, you became the first female prime minister in Australian history in 2010. What have been the challenges and opportunities for you as a woman working in politics? Have the obstacles women face in positions of power changed over the years, and if so, how?
I want to start positive and say I’m a huge advocate for people going into politics – particularly women. I believe there’s no better way of putting your values into action than going into politics but I’m not going to pretend that there’s no gender bit.
There still is a gender bit and I experienced that personally.… Seguir leyendo »
Southeast Asia has one of the highest records of gender-based violence in the world and Indonesia was recently ranked as the second most dangerous place for women in the Asia-Pacific. What is the state of women’s rights and gender equality in Indonesia?
It is true that Indonesia has high rates of violence against women, however, it’s difficult to know the realities of women’s experiences because in the past the data has been somewhat unreliable. This has been due to reasons such as a lack of reporting mechanisms available to survivors of violence and the fact that discussing sexual violence is a taboo, and if reported, can result in stigmatization which limits the number of survivors who have come forward.… Seguir leyendo »
The world is undergoing an energy transformation, from a system based on fossil fuels to a system based on renewable energy, in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the most serious impacts of a changing climate.
How does this transition have the potential to reshape the geopolitical landscape and how does it compare to the impact of the last transition from traditional biomass energy 200 years ago?
The last transition created an energy system that was based on resources that are geographically concentrated. This allowed the exercise of geopolitical power around the distribution of those resources which, in turn, had economic advantages for those countries that extracted those resources.… Seguir leyendo »
It has been almost 100 years since women in the United States gained the right to vote but the US still is yet to have a woman elected as president. What do you think needs to change for there to be the first woman elected to the White House?
Amy Pope: I think it’s coming soon. In the last election, the woman candidate won a majority of the votes of the popular vote. Now, because of the way the US system works, she didn’t win a majority of the electoral college, which is what she would have needed to become president.… Seguir leyendo »
What role does energy play today in the shifting geopolitics of the Middle East particularly in the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Libya?
Interestingly, energy doesn’t play much of a role in Syria because the country is not an important energy player. There is some public speculation that Syria sits on a large energy resource base, both onshore and offshore, but I think those expectations are misplaced.
It’s commonplace to think of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent US-led coalition to liberate Kuwait as being predicated on ‘freeing up the oil’. Similarly, the war in Iraq in 2003 has been characterized – mischaracterized in my opinion – as a ‘grab for oil’.… Seguir leyendo »
Given the partisan state of US politics, how can discussion on climate change be depoliticized? Is there a path forward for bipartisan action on the climate without major changes in US politics?
Donald Trump has taken an active interest in combating the basic facts of climate science. But it hasn’t worked. Indeed Trump’s rhetorical attacks on climate science appear to have backfired. The percentage of Americans that believe in climate science has increased 3 per cent since last March, bringing the total to roughly 73 per cent, and 7 in 10 Americans take this issue personally.
Trump’s attacks on internationalism also seem to be failing at least when it comes to the environment.… Seguir leyendo »
Global hunger is on the rise, with 821 million undernourished people in the world in 2017, up from 784 million in 2015. With ongoing violence in Yemen, where 12 million people are at risk of starvation, and economic crisis fuelling food shortages in Venezuela, how is conflict and economic instability around the world contributing to global food insecurity?
Conflict is increasingly driving hunger rather than generic problems around disruptions in food production or rising poverty. At any given moment, of the 821 million chronically food insecure people in the world, close to half of them are suffering from hunger because of conflict.… Seguir leyendo »
Up to 58,000 square miles of forests are being lost to deforestation every year, contributing to climate change and the loss of habitats for millions of species. Can you tell us about the key drivers for forest loss across Africa?
Deforestation is directly being caused by activities such as illegal logging, agricultural development, mining and infrastructure projects – but there are reasons behind these activities which are often overlooked.
Poverty is one of the most significant indirect reasons causing deforestation across Africa – and it is increasing. The population across Africa is growing annually, and because we have a large land area with ample forests, Africans are using it to farm as a means of securing their food security while lifting themselves out of poverty.… Seguir leyendo »
Owen Grafham (Department Manager, Energy, Environment and Resources) speaks to Gitika Bhardwaj about why providing universal energy access to refugees is crucial to improving their livelihoods and that of their host communities.
There are over 68 million forcibly displaced people globally, over 25 million of which are refugees, more than ever before. With ongoing wars in Syria and South Sudan and continuing violence in Afghanistan and Myanmar, how do you see the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ unfolding given the state of global conflicts around the world?
Unfortunately it’s likely that we will see increasing numbers of people being displaced by conflict over the next few years.… Seguir leyendo »
Ireland currently has an €8 billon national investment fund with an estimated €300 million invested in fossil fuel shares. Under the bill, the government will be required to sell its investments in fossil fuels. How significant is this in terms of Ireland’s stocks and shares in non-renewable energy?
This decision relates to Ireland’s national investment fund which has specific objectives like making investments that have a positive economic impact. The new bill is the result of civil society and multi-party support for the idea that the investments in fossil fuels are in conflict with Ireland’s commitment to the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.… Seguir leyendo »
Oceans cover almost three quarters of the earth’s surface and billions of people globally depend on them for their livelihoods. However, plastic pollution, overfishing and maritime threats such as piracy could endanger efforts to harness the ocean’s resources for sustainable development. Dan Watson from SNTech speaks to Gitika Bhardwaj about how governments and businesses are developing solutions to these challenges.
The world is facing a number of land-based challenges, including a growing human population, and scientists recently warned that land degradation could displace at least 50 million people by 2050.
As the pressure for land-based resources increases, what is the blue economy and why is it important?… Seguir leyendo »