Let’s consider these questions…
Should the poor be blamed for their poverty?
Should the government or citizens be responsible for the cost of health care?
Shall we expect only developed countries to deal with climate change?
Before you start searching for your own answers, the media, believe it or not, have already planted theirs in your mind.
News media set the public agenda every day by telling us what is important to know and how to think about it. When it comes to global challenges such as poverty, climate change, and the refugee crisis, the media often play a decisive role in defining both the problem and responsibility. Attribution of responsibility in media reporting should not be underestimated, as it suggests the source of problems and who should fix them, shapes the public discourse and opinions about issues, and subsequently influences local and global policy approaches to public concerns.
Let’s consider these questions…
As per NASA’s definition, global warming is “the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century primarily due to the greenhouse gases released as people burn fossil fuels.” This increase in temperature has grown exponentially in recent times. According to a World Bank report, warming of close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times is already locked into Earth’s atmospheric system by past and predicted greenhouse gas emissions.
This rise in temperatures is most notable in cities due to the so-called “urban heat island” effect. This is caused by the concentration of people, vehicles, buildings and machinery, all of which generate heat. However, the biggest contributor to the urban heat island effect is the replacement of plants by concrete, according to the Smithsonian’s article.
Deforestation and increased pollution have caused Paraguay’s capital Asunción to be recognized as the hottest city in the world. World Wildlife Fund had an interesting idea to raise awareness amongst Paraguayans about the dangerous effects of global warming. With a local chef, they organized an outdoor restaurant with a “Global Warming menu” cooked directly on the hot asphalt of the street.
This post was written by Alex de Waal, the Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a Research Professor at The Fletcher School. It is a contribution to an online symposium on the changing nature of knowledge production in fragile states. Be sure to read other entries by Deval Desai and Rebecca Tapscott, Lisa Denney and Pilar Domingo, Michael Woolcock, Morten Jerven.
There’s a commendable search for rigor in social science. But there’s also an illusion that numbers ipso facto represent rigor, and that sophisticated mathematical analysis of the social scientific datasets can expand the realm of explanatory possibilities. Social scientific researchers working in what the Justice and Security Research Programme calls “difficult places”—countries affected by armed conflict, political turbulence and the long-lasting uncertainties that follow protracted crisis—should be extremely cautious before setting off on this path.
There’s a simultaneous search for policy relevance: for bridging the gap between the academy and the executive. We want our research to be useful and to be used; we want policy-makers to listen to us. But we risk becoming entrapped in a self-referential knowledge creating machine.
The holy grail seems to be to emulate economists and epidemiologists, whose highly technical analyses of real world data—and in the case of the latter, double-blind clinical trials—set a gold standard in terms of methodological rigor, alongside a truly enviable record of influencing policy and practice. But before embarking on this quest, it would be advisable to examine what social scientific scholarship might look like, if it actually reached this goal.
How the new peace and violence development goals can be met
For the first time, issues of violence and peace are part of a global development framework. The recently launched Sustainable Development Goals aim to “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths everywhere”. While admirable in its intent and ambition, is this possible? And, if so, how? Earlier global agreements, notably the Millennium Development Goals, did not consider issues of conflict and violence. Critics point to the omission as one reason areas affected by conflict and violence lagged so far behind peaceful and stable countries on achieving the goals. Human development indicators are often far worse in conflict areas. On top of this delivering development is made more difficult by continuing violent insecurity, politicised divisions and militarisation. Unsurprisingly, people in these areas see reducing levels of violence and conflict as the most important way in which their lives could be improved.
Understand COP21 in these 7 graphics
Today marks the third day of COP21, a key milestone in the global effort to combat climate change. For the next two weeks, representatives from more than 190 countries will work towards creating a legally binding and universal agreement that spells out how countries will cooperate on climate change for decades to come. A strong Paris agreement can send the signal to the world that the global transformation to a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy is underway. Here’s a visual look at recent progress the world has made, as well as what needs to be done in Paris and beyond to truly overcome the climate change challenge
The Library’s Global Future
Discussions of the future of libraries are often surprisingly nostalgic endeavors, producing laments for vanished card catalogs or shrinking book stacks rather than visions of what might be. Even at their most hopeful, such conversations sometimes lose track of the pragmatic functions that libraries serve. Imagined as unchanging archives, libraries become mere monuments to our analog past. But envisioning them as purely digital spaces also misses the mark, capturing neither what they can be nor the way their patrons use them.
The world’s urban population is growing – so how can cities plan for migrants?
The world’s population is becoming increasingly urban. Sometime in 2007 is usually reckoned to be the turning point when city dwellers formed the majority of the global population for the first time in history. Today, the trend toward urbanisation continues: as of 2014, it’s thought that 54% of the world’s population lives in cities – and it’s expected to reach 66% by 2050. Migration forms a significant, and often controversial, part of this urban population growth. In fact, cities grow in three ways, which can be difficult to distinguish: through migration (whether it’s internal migration from rural to urban areas, or international migration between countries); the natural growth of the city’s population; and the reclassification of nearby non-urban districts. Although migration is only responsible for one share of this growth, it varies widely from country to country.
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
With only a few months until world leaders gather to draft and sign a universal climate agreement in Paris at the COP21, an all-star lineup of music legends and celebrities have come together to record a new single to build awareness and support for action on climate change.
“Love Song to the Earth” was created to stress the importance of taking action to protect the environment but also to uplift listeners regarding environmental protection. The song hopes to empower people to take action rather than feel paralyzed by the enormity of climate change issues.
In addition to the single, executive director Jerry Cope also created a “lyric video” featuring film from around the world as well as scientists, celebrities, and people all around the world holding up signs reading “Keep it Safe,” and "It’s Our World”.
Love Song for the Earth will join The Climate Reality Project and Friends of the Earth as a partner for 24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth: The World is Watching on 13-14 November 2015. Fans are also encouraged to sign a petition to tell world leaders to “keep Earth safe at the global climate change negotiations."
The COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. The goal of the agreement, involving more than 190 nations, is to keep global warming below 2°C. COP21 will take place from 7-8 December 2015.
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” - John F. Kennedy
From cradle to grave …
Currently, two billion bicycles are in use around the world. Children, students, professionals, laborers, civil servants and seniors are pedaling around their communities. They all experience the freedom and the natural opportunity for exercise that the bicycle easily provides.
That number could rise to as many as five billion bicycles by 2050, especially with the development of the electric bike that we are seeing worldwide. Over 50 percent of the human population knows how to ride a bike, and the annual production of bicycles is now over 100 million per year. In comparison, car production is currently at about 60 million units per year.
The bicycle is unique and deserves to be given a focus by the global community that it surprisingly has not yet received.
This is especially true of politicians who often underestimate the power of voters who take their freedom to pedal very seriously. City planners also need to be aware of how the bicycle contributes to decreased congestion and improved urban livability worldwide. There are, however, some wonderful exceptions such as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, Rome mayor, Ignazio Marino, Taipei mayor, Ko Wen-je, the 108th Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, Paris mayor, Anne Hildalgo, Rio de Janeiro mayor, Eduardo Paes, and former Washington DC mayor, Adrian Fenty who recognize the importance of incorporating bikes into city planning.
Many countries and cities already share best practices on how to become more cycling friendly. A process that the European Cyclists’ Federation and World Cycling Alliance is heavily engaged in, which recently lead to the EU ministers of Transport agreeing in a groundbreaking “declaration on cycling as a climate friendly transport mode” at a meeting in Luxembourg in early October 2015.
The former mayor of Munich, Christian Ude once said, "Do we want people in leading positions that are too scared to cross a city center on a bicycle? Of course not. Let cyclists get at it!” Cyclists – as citizens - tend to be a very organized and active group with bulk voting power that could be unleashed at any time to advocate for global policy change.
The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York in the midst of great expectation and hype. The 17 SDGs, with 169 specific targets, are now becoming the road map for governments and the international development community for the next 15 years.
Now that all the publicity and excitement are starting to settle down, it seems opportune to look at the media coverage of the SDGs and developing countries to get a sense of how that coverage has played out over the past few weeks, and what some of the insights are that we can learn from for the way forward. This coverage mainly includes articles from various publications, websites, and blog posts in the English language. It does not include social media statistics from Tweeter or Facebook.
An analysis of this media coverage featuring the key words “SDGs” and “developing countries” show that, over the past three months, more than 2,400 articles mentioned these two key words somewhere in the text of the articles. The analysis, using the Newsplus database, covers the period July 8-October 8. It shows that almost a quarter of that coverage (more than 600 entries) took place during the last week of September when the UN meetings were held. However, the second week of July, right before the summer break, was also active in terms of SDG-related coverage, signaling an important communications effort in the lead up to the UN September meetings.
Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion. In September 2015, the featured blog post is "If climate change is a human story, men are telling it." by Jing Guo.
From extreme weather events to water shortages, reduced harvests, and increased spread of infectious diseases, climate change can affect human life in countless ways. Climate change is not simply an environmental challenge. It is a human story, fundamentally about people.
However, climate change does not affect us equally. Compared to men, women are more vulnerable to its impacts, as women constitute 70% of the world’s impoverished population and are more dependent for their survival and livelihood on natural resources increasingly strained by climate change.
Given these disproportionate effects on women, one would expect them to have an equal, if not greater, say in public discussions on climate change. Yet, in fact, their side of these stories have been mostly ignored.
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.After nearly three years of global consultations and negotiations, the SDGs are expected to be adopted by UN member states at a special summit convened at the UN headquarters from 25 to 27 September. The event is part of the larger program of the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which begins 15 September.
The new framework, Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, consists of a Declaration, 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets, a section on means of implementation and renewed global partnership, and a framework for review and follow-up. It was agreed to by the 193 Member States of the UN and will build upon the millennium development goals
The Global Goals campaign, launched at UN Headquarters earlier this month, aims to inform 7 billion people in 7 days about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. As part of this, the campaign is creating a crowd-sourced video, calling on the global public to record videos of themselves reading their favorite global goal, take a photo that demonstrates that goal, or otherwise creatively visualize their SDG of choice.
The youth in the video ask viewers to, “Film yourself delivering the goal that resonates with you. We will put it all together with thousands of your faces, voices, and all of our collective hope to create a film and show it to the world on TV, online, and live."