Definitely, maybe: circular economy initiatives that work for poor communities

Over the last 18 months we’ve been thinking, discussing and writing about how the circular economy can work for communities in developing countries. Our latest research paper, Bending the Curve, takes the evidence base to the next stage. It assesses the literature available to identify what works in practice, and the range of income, health and environmental benefits these interventions bring.

We can divide the approaches into three categories, which I think of as:

  • Definitelyproven interventions that have a strong evidence base, and could be replicated in a variety of low- and middle-income contexts.
  • Probably: approaches where the evidence base is evolving; more research is needed to understand how they could be scaled up and rolled out in different contexts.
  • Maybe: areas of high concern or great potential, but where the solutions are as-yet-unproven or speculative.

[Read more…]

We’re all in the same canoe – negotiating world climate directions at COP23

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Senior Campaigner Helen Heather writes from the close of the UN Climate Talks in Bonn.

As I entered the UN Climate Talks, I immediately noticed the vibrancy and welcome (‘Bula’) of the Fijians who have presided over the negotiations. Their presence during these negotiations has been hard to miss as they have elevated the voices of small islands, the Pacific nations and all vulnerable countries urgently needing climate action.

Indeed the symbol the Fiji delegation shared with everyone here is a Drua – a Fijian ocean-going canoe – with the message “we are all in the same canoe”. [Read more…]

Story telling and policy making – which is the chicken and which is the egg? How social movements can help achieve the Paris Climate Agreement

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Many people recognise that climate change has human causes and needs human interventions, but this knowledge hasn’t impacted their own habits and behaviours. Yet we know that achieving warming of less than 2C – the target of the Paris Agreement – requires lifestyle changes by us all. We also need policies to help us make the big changes in our lives and society. So which comes first? Policies or people?  [Read more…]

The world’s biggest waste dump (hint: it’s big, blue and you like going there)

I used to be a big fan of seafood: crabs, mussels, prawns you name it, I ate it. Then when this year Ghent University in Belgium found that seafood lovers could be eating up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic a year, I reluctantly decided to cut my consumption to the odd treat (what’s a couple of hundred bits of microplastics between friends). Consumers in better off nations like ours are rightly worried about the as yet unknown health impacts of ingesting plastic, but little or no attention has been paid to the impact on communities in the developing world.

The escalating crisis of marine litter (this ranges from microbeads to plastic bottles to boats) is the latest, dystopian symptom of a linear economy which takes, makes and throws away.  It turns out ‘away’ is often the oceans. Every year we produce 300 million pieces of plastic and 5 to 12.5 million pieces of it end up in the oceans.   [Read more…]

An economy where both people and nature thrive

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In 2016 Tearfund and the St Paul’s Institute held a programme of roundtables exploring global development and the green economy. Barbara Ridpath, Director of the Institute, and I explore inequality and the economy, and the recommendations from the programme in our follow up paper, ‘Going Full Circle:  tackling resource reduction and inequality’.

Look around your office floor or the train you’re travelling in. Can you count eight people? That’s the number of men who own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people in the world this year. This inequality is extreme and it’s down to a broken economic system.  [Read more…]

When will Trump have his Damascus road experience?

So he’s done it. After months of speculation President Trump has announced the US will be exiting the Paris Accord on tackling climate change.

It is disappointing that President Trump does not see the opportunity for economic growth which clean energy presents; what the world is now waiting for is his Damascus road experience. We need that dramatic reversal of position in the near future. But if we have to wait 4 years, some experts say that wouldn’t be too disastrous – whereas if we had 8 years of the same rolling back progress on climate change, that would be a game changer. [Read more…]