Laura Wellesley

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Campaigners show a banner at the United Nations headquarters in New York during ongoing negotiations for a treaty to protect the high seas. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images.

When 193 countries agreed in March 2023 to a new high seas treaty, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, declared it a ‘victory for multilateralism.’ It was a historic moment that offered two genuine causes for celebration: firstly, a more hopeful future for our ocean and, secondly, a welcome reminder in turbulent times that multilateral collaboration can deliver meaningful progress.

Landmark ruling

The treaty provides a framework for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to preserve and sustainably manage marine biodiversity in international waters.

The ocean contains 95 per cent of the planet’s ecosystems, soaks up around 30 per cent of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and produces half the oxygen we breathe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Planting the fields around Dnipro, Ukraine where many of the workers are women, as most men have signed up for the military. Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

The blockade of Ukraine’s ports is choking critical supplies of crops to the world and risks tipping vulnerable populations in developing countries closer to famine. Before the invasion, Ukraine and Russia were together supplying 100 per cent of Somalia’s wheat imports, 80 per cent of Egypt’s and 75 per cent of Sudan’s.

Global food prices have reached all-time highs since Russia’s invasion and households in countries across the world are suffering the consequences. Humanitarian agencies are struggling not only to reach those suffering from an acute lack of basic supplies in Ukraine itself, but to maintain their operations in other parts of the world as food and energy prices skyrocket.…  Seguir leyendo »

Farmer standing in his field in the agricultural landscape of Cotabato Province, Mindanao Island, the Philippines. Photo: Tessa Bunney/Contributor/Getty Images.

This paper explores the role of the global food system as the principal driver of accelerating biodiversity loss. It explains how food production is degrading or destroying natural habitats and contributing to species extinction. The paper outlines the challenges and trade-offs involved in redesigning food systems to restore biodiversity and/or prevent further biodiversity loss, and presents recommendations for action.

The paper introduces three ‘levers’ for reducing pressures on land and creating a more sustainable food system. The first is to change dietary patterns to reduce food demand and encourage more plant-based diets. The second is to protect and set aside land for nature, whether through re-establishing native ecosystems on spared farmland or integrating pockets of natural habitat into farmland.…  Seguir leyendo »

Six Aspects of Daily Life Rapidly Changed by COVID-19

When the pandemic struck, many countries were quick to close their borders, turning inward in the scramble to protect lives and livelihoods. Sadly, the crisis has done little to bond nations against this shared, invisible foe – in some cases, blame for the outbreak and rows over responses actually exacerbating geopolitical tensions.

However, some effects of COVID-19 may yet unite us, in the profound ways the disease has impacted almost every part of life across the planet, giving us a rare opportunity to pause and consider how we live. News of an effective vaccine makes the prospect of a ‘return to normality’ more hopeful but have these dramatic accelerations in existing trends already changed how we travel, work, and consume, and the face of our cities for good?…  Seguir leyendo »

Cows are are fed at a dairy factory at Baladna farm in al-Khor, Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images.

Earlier this month, Sheikh Tamim – the emir of Qatar – hailed the country’s success in overcoming the impacts of the embargo levied by the so-called Arab Quartet – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Qatar will post a budget surplus for the first time in three years, and the country’s long-term plan for economic diversification has taken great strides, according to the emir. Key among the achievements cited was the advancement of Qatar’s domestic food industry.

When the blockade was introduced in June 2017, it threw the vulnerability of Qatar’s domestic food supply to outside interruption into sharp relief.…  Seguir leyendo »

Container cars pulled by Union Pacific locomotives at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo via Getty Images

There are 14 major chokepoints that are critical to the international food trade. Report author Laura Wellesley and experts Conor Walsh and Andrew E. Tucci explain why policymakers must take action to mitigate the risk of severe disruptions at ports, maritime straits and inland transport routes, which could have devastating knock-on effects for global food security.

What are chokepoints and why are they important?

Conor Walsh: Chokepoints represent the inconvenient geographic realities that exist when distant producers and consumers seek to exchange goods and services.

Laura Wellesley: They are major infrastructure bottlenecks along international supply chains that could be maritime chokepoints like the Strait of Malacca or major canals like the Suez or Panama Canal.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week, state officials in China came together with celebrities and campaign groups to trumpet the launch by the Chinese Nutrition Society, the official source of dietary advice in China, of its latest guidelines. The revised guidelines, published last month, advise that individuals limit their meat consumption to between 40g and 75g a day, half of current consumption levels, and reflect the government’s desire to avert a looming public health crisis driven in part by rapidly shifting diets. Rising per capita meat consumption in China – coupled with falling levels of physical activity, a growing appetite for high-protein, high-calorie and high-fat foods – is contributing to rising incidence of overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases.…  Seguir leyendo »