Every region of the World is the worst affected
Each month, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) releases a monthly food price index. The release on 3 June showed that food prices have surged by 40%, the largest rise since 2011. The impact of this food price rise will grievously hit developing countries, most of whom are major importers of food staples.
Prices rise for a range of reasons, the current rise largely fuelled by the collapse of sizeable sections of the global economy during the pandemic. Warnings of general inflation due to lockdown-related pent-up demand, shipping bottlenecks, and oil price increases loom over richer states, which–due to the power of the wealthy bondholders–have few tools to manage inflation, and by poorer states, which swirl in a cataclysmic debt crisis.
Rising food prices come at a time when unemployment rates in many parts of the world have skyrocketed. On 2 June, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released its annual World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 report, which showed, as expected, that the pandemic-related economic collapse has meant the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs and working hours.
Food & nutrition: Imagining a future-fit world
Estimates show that an additional 150 million people will be pushed into poverty and hunger by the end of 2021. Unfortunately, it has taken the pandemic to show that we need to move from siloed thinking to systems thinking. What does this mean for future-fit thinking? Here are a few recommendations:
First, we must think circular. This means that it is no longer possible for us to decouple the consumer and producer nature of most individuals: Especially in rural economies, recognising this twin identity of most people is critical. In turn, this means that incentives for both consumption and production systems must change in lock-step. As we change producer prices, we must carefully consider the implications for food consumption patterns.
Identity Politics With Chinese Characteristics
What is China? The answer is less obvious than it seems. Is the vast territory primarily a country, a civilization, or a political construct? Is it an empire or a nation-state? Is it a region with different languages and cultures or a (mostly) homogeneous people in which the great majority are closely connected by common traditions and ancestors?
For most of the past two millennia, the area known today as China was the center of empires. Some of those empires were large, extending into Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, and the northern Pacific. Others were smaller, containing only parts of present-day China. At times, the area was made up of a number of small states competing for influence, in patterns not unlike what existed in Europe after the fall of Rome. But, in general, empire has been the rule rather than the exception.
Globalisation of HE: the good, the bad and the ugly
Globalisation – the tendency to global convergence and integration – has wonderful potential in the abstract. It offers the possibility that we can work our way out of the national container blocking collaborative action, for example, on climate change.
Global convergence suggests a full and formative encounter with the diversity of human ideas, knowledge, imagination, government, institutions, social habits, on the basis of unity in diversity, heer butong, in tianxia, all under heaven, the Chinese terms.No one country or culture has all the answers and we have much to learn from each other. That is the ideal.
Climate Migration: An Impending Global Challenge
For months, we have watched the crisis at the Mexican border as migrants tried to enter the U.S. In March, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office estimated that there were 171,700 people attempting to cross the border—the highest number in 20 years. About 30 percent were families, of which one third were refused entry under Title 42, a public health statute.
The number of unaccompanied children arriving and being held in custody in U.S. border shelters hit over 5,700 in March. And this week, five unaccompanied girls between the ages of seven and 11 months were found at the Texas-Mexico border. While a migrant surge occurs every year as people come to the U.S. for seasonal work, the record number of children being sent by themselves is likely a sign of desperate conditions back home.
Harmonizing Counterterrorism and Great-Power Competition
For all the talk of a shift away from counterterrorism and toward great power competition, the reality is that with a modicum of strategic planning the two are mutually reinforcing, not mutually exclusive, efforts.
The defining characteristic of America’s post-9/11 counterterrorism approach has been an aggressive, forward defense global posture. As former defense secretary Robert Gates put it, “better to fight them on their 10-yard line than on our 10-yard line.” This counterterrorism enterprise has been remarkably successful from a tactical perspective, foiling attacks and disrupting terrorist networks. Protecting against future attacks demands continued vigilance, but nearly twenty years after 9/11 there is growing consensus that America’s forward defense counterterrorism posture is neither financially sustainable nor strategically balanced against the resource needs of other national security threats.
Asian Americans and social justice
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and we should note recent achievements. Congress finally acknowledged the 20,000 Chinese Americans who, despite intense racism, served in the U.S. military during the Second World War. Taiwanese American Charles Yu’s novel about that racism, “Interior Chinatown”, won the National Book Award. Kamala Harris, a woman with roots in India, became U.S. vice president.
Even more remarkable is Gintanjali Rao, an Indian American from Colorado. Over the past five years, Rao has invented technologies to measure lead in drinking water, diagnose opioid addiction, and detect cyberbullying. She has conducted international science workshops, given public talks, and learned to pilot an airplane. And she’s only fifteen!
Water Stress: A Global Problem That’s Getting Worse
Billions of people around the world lack adequate access to one of the essential elements of life: clean water. Although governments and aid groups have helped many living in water-stressed regions gain access in recent years, the problem is projected to get worse with the harmful effects of global warming and population growth.
Water stress can differ dramatically from one place to another, in some cases causing wide-reaching damage, including to public health, economic development, and global trade. It can also drive mass migrations and spark conflict. Now, pressure is mounting on countries to implement more sustainable and innovative practices and to improve international cooperation on water management.
Economic recovery masks the dangers of a divided world
Nothing would be more foolish than policymakers in rich countries turning away from global challenges.
The big story from the recent meetings of the IMF and the World Bank is that the world economy is recovering substantially more quickly than expected even six months ago. But the recovery in the global economic aggregate masks what is happening to the world’s people. Both within countries and among them, the disadvantaged seem set to suffer the slowest recoveries. Moreover, this house divided may not stand: what is going on — above all, the slow global rollout of the vaccines — will worsen prospects for everybody.
THE HELPLESS CRY OUT AS THE WORLD TURNS A BLIND EYE TO GENOCIDE
Joseph Stalin, while just a commissar, once stated: “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.” As Soviet Union leader, Stalin created the Great Famine (the Holodomor) in Ukraine in which up to 10 million people starved to death, about 25,000 every day, in 19321933.
Frenchman Jean Rostand, in his 1939 book “Thoughts of a Biologist,” wrote, “Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god.” Even before then, there has been no shortage of men seeking such deiﬁcation. They have killed tens of millions of people and driven out millions more to foreign countries that do not want them to live in abject poverty.