Both climate change and poor air quality result primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels, and it is within urban areas that these intertwined issues are most acute. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that urban areas are responsible for more than 70% of all energy related fossil fuel emissions, and this share is expected to grow as people continue to migrate into urban areas. Similarly, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that urban air pollution is linked to 1 million premature deaths and 1 million prenatal deaths each year, costing 2% of GDP in developed countries and 5% GDP in developing countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently noted that urban air quality is deteriorating. Addressing air quality and climate change impacts will bring economic benefits, but there is still much that can be learned about how best to take care of these issues in terms of both cost and efficacy.
The fishing industry is a billion dollar enterprise that provides livelihood and survival for billions of people. According to a 2012 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the fishing industry is worth over $200 billion and products of this industry provide 3 billion people over 20 percent of their total protein consumed. Without question, this is an invaluable industry that affects people worldwide. However, trends do not look favorable for the longevity of the industry, with some experts warning that fisheries globally can collapse as early as 2050.
Did you know that non-Arctic states have a keen interest in the Arctic? While many observers express grave concern that the changing Arctic environment portends greater rapid climate change—the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of any other location around the globe—this is not the only reason for interest. Melting Arctic sea ice creates commercial opportunities barely imaginable just a few scant years ago. The Northern Sea Route, bordering the coast of northern Russia is often already navigable during warmer summer months. And history was made when the Nordic Orion, carrying coal from Vancouver to Finland, made the first ever passage of a bulk carrier through the Northwest Passage in September 2013. In addition, the Arctic is widely seen as a massive and untapped source of hydrocarbons and minerals. Getting at those resources means running considerable environmental risks at great cost, but as we live in a carbon economy, our dependence on extracting oil and gas is not likely to change anytime soon.
Tacloban, Philippines—framed by mountains and facing the deep sapphire waters of the Pacific Ocean—was a city on the rise. The bustling provincial capital had a busy port and seaside cathedrals, and is just a few minutes up the road from the site where U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed to re-take the Philippines from Japanese forces in World War II. On weekends, farmers and residents of poorer towns for miles around would flock to the city to take in the latest movies or hit the malls.
Singapore’s 100-foot concrete supertrees tower over Gardens by the Bay, part of the government’s attempt to create "a city in a garden." These mammoth steel and concrete structures serve as cooling ducts for conservatories, generate solar power, and collect rainwater. But supertrees are just one example of Singapore’s horticultural innovations. Singapore’s strides in modern agriculture herald the beginnings of a green revolution—including the Hort Park rooftop gardensand Sky Greens, one of the world’s first commercial vertical farms.
In our fast paced, evolving world public policy is often completely focused on growing economies, technology, and improving life. Unfortunately, this happens too often at the cost of the environment. The Carbon Disclosure Project works to reform this way of the world by working with cities to come up with ways of improving the way they operate.
Less than three decades from now, in 2041, the United Nations estimates that the population of the world will reach 9 billion people. That is a lot of mouths to feed, to put it mildly.
Agriculture must urgently address three sets of issues:
The Diplomatic Courier recently spoke with Dr. Gustavo Gaviria Angel, member of the Board of Directors of the Sustainable Food Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. Dr. Gaviria was Ambassador for Colombia to the Shanghai 2010 Universal Exposition and serves as Chairman of the Board of Industrias Aliadas S.A. He is past Chairman of Cafeteros de Colombia, Colombia’s largest coffee grower and exporter association, and External Consultant to the International Finance Corporation (IFC). We spoke with him at his office in Bogotá, Colombia.
On April 3rd, the Energy, Resources and Environment Global Leaders Forum at the John Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies welcomed Dr. Robert L. Thompson to speak on the important matter of global food security within the next 40 years. The question posed in Dr. Thompson’s speech was one of growing importance as the years go by: How do you feed a population of 9 billion people when climate impacts are going to impose immense risks? While there is no simple answer, Dr. Thompson did successfully offer prospective solutions to the growing issue of food security and climate change in his hour long presentation.
Dr. Thompson’s background makes him an ideal speaker on food security and the environment. Dr. Thompson has served as a professor for the University of Illinois, where he holds the Gardner Endowed Chair in Agricultural Policy. Previously, he served as Director of Rural Development and Senior Advisor for Agricultural Trade Policy at the World Bank, CEO of the Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, and Assistant Secretary for Economic at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These positions, along with many other positions surrounding agriculture, make Dr. Thompson well versed in issues surrounding global food security and our environment.
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