Category Archives: The economic crunch

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the bank…

The people who brought us the banking crashes of 2007-2008 that became the credit crunch 2008-2009 and the economic wreckage we’ve lived in since are having another go. The very credit arrangements that brought us so much grief are fashionable again. Continue reading

Resources – the coming crunch and some things that could be done about it

As I remarked already, and it’s the starting point for the new edition of my State of the World Atlas (published this week), the human population is seven times greater than it was 200 years ago but our use of resources is disproportionately greater still: we produce 50 times as much, using 60 times as much water and 75 times as much energy. Where is that all going – and perhaps more to the point, how long can it keep on going? A new report offers insights. Continue reading

Van Rompuy strikes a good balance

The Nobel Lecture when the EU received the 2012 Peace Prize was a speech in two chapters, the first delivered by Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the Council, and the second by Jose Barroso, President of the Commission. It was van Rompuy who addressed the issues I raised in yesterday’s post and he did it pretty well. Continue reading

EU leaders: where’s the headline energy?

EU government leaders have put no headline energy into trying to end the warfare torturing eastern Congo for the past month. And you can’t blame that on being distracted by Israel retaliating against random rocket attacks from Gaza with an 8-day bombardment until Egypt brokered the ceasefire on 21 November. Heads of EU governments weren’t headline visible on Gaza either. They’re distracted by other things. Continue reading

Blog starting up again

This blog has been silent for several months. The main reason was simply that, alongside my day job, I had taken on another research and writing task – preparing the next edition of my atlas of world affairs, The State of the Worldand that took priority. But that’s done (publication date January 2013 but if you really want to use it as a Christmas present, get in touch – pre-publication copies have to be available) and so the blog is back.

At this point, I just want to give an idea of what I intend to be tackling over the coming months. There are five big issues that we – the world – need to get right if more people are to be able live in peace and with a reasonable degree of dignity. They are

  1. Wealth and poverty;
  2. War and peace;
  3. Rights and respect;
  4. Health of people;
  5. Health of the planet – the natural environment.

Despite the pessimism in Europe and America in this extended “moment” of prolonged economic downturn, reasonable progress has been made on three of those issues – war and peace, rights and respect, and health. Even though progress is limited and at risk from powerful countervailing trends, there has been real improvement. It’s on the economy and the environment that we are continuing to screw up.

The background to this lies in some very big issues:

  • The unprecedented scale of demographic shifts, including both population growth and staggeringly fast urbanisation;
  •  The scale of resource use and economic activity, which has increased much more quickly than population has grown;
  • The deep, global environmental predicament we are in – and getting deeper in: it is still poorly understood – among the missing ingredients of our knowledge are the consequences of different environmental issues interacting with each other.

Against this background, questions for my blogging include

  • How to keep building peace and expanding the scope of freedom;
  • Finding ways to ensure that economic and social development is about improving the conditions of ordinary people, not about strengthening the hold of an increasingly transnational-ised elite;
  • Working out which of our national and international institutions are not delivering the way they should be, why, and what can be done to, with and about them;
  • What kinds of knowledge we need in order to do better.

Peacebuilding IN Europe?

In 2001 – a different time and a different world – the EU Gothenburg summit agreed to make the prevention of violent conflict a priority for the EU. Measured by money, it’s now the world’s biggest player in peacebuilding. But look around Europe now and we can ask, should peacebuilding also start to be a priority inside the EU? Continue reading

After the UK election (2): Three questions on international development

What does the advent of the new government mean for UK policy on international development? Continue reading