By Jonathan Ambrogi, on behalf of the Latin American Forum, sponsored by the GJA-GJA Innovative Initiative Fund.
The Principal giving the opening speech
On 4-5 February 2019, the 8th edition of the Edinburgh Latin American Forum took place at the Informatics Forum and the Business School in Central Edinburgh. The event kicked-off at 10am with an opening speech of the University’s Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson, expressing his wish to keep strengthening the University’s ties with Latin America, which is one of the aims of the forum.The first session covered Water Security and featured an interesting speech by Dr. Castro arguing for a stronger role of the state in addressing hazards created by water scarcity. Representatives from Coventry University took a more scientific approach in explaining sustainable drainage in Brazilian slums. The Honduran Ambassador to the UK and Head of the Latin American Diplomatic Corp reassured the audience of the role his government was playing in reducing poverty and water scarcity for Honduras’ most vulnerable groups.
Lauren Donnelly is reading for an LLM in Human Rights at Edinburgh Law School. In her role as a Global Justice Academy Student Ambassador, Lauren reflects on discussions raised from the Paris talks on climate change, including what Scotland can do.
On Saturday the 19th of March, the UN House Scotland held, “Climate Change: Global Challenges, Local Solutions Conference” to explore the impact of the much publicised 2015 Paris Climate Change agreement. The event consisted of two panel discussions, the first which examined from an international perspective and the second which explored the Scottish response, to the various challenges faced in achieving the goals set out in this agreement.
The opening address of conference was delivered by Tom Ballantine, the Chair of Stop Climate Change Scotland. The opening address paved the way for what was to be an inspiring and enlightened discussion throughout the afternoon. The presentation outlined briefly why climate change matters, the broader effects of climate change and climate change after the Paris agreement. It highlighted that climate change has been discussed since the nineteenth century, stressing that despite the fact that the developing world is contributing the least to climate change, these countries are most likely to suffer the impact of global warming. Expanding on this point, the presentation outlined that if we do not act urgently we can expect to see: coastal flooding and displaced people due to land loss; reduced yields of major crops; human insecurity; and mass poverty.
Dr. Judith Curry, professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, visited Ohio University in Athens, Ohio recently to discuss, in her words, the “state of the climate debate.” She was a guest of the George Washington Forum, a group that, according to its website, endeavours to bring “civic education and intellectual diversity” to campus. Curry, an outspoken critic of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), confirmed her reputation as a “climate heretic” early on in her presentation, stating: “It’s a name I’m proud to bear. I’m not telling anybody what to do; it’s the honest broker role.” Unfortunately, it’s a role that does not suit her.
This guest post is by Nicaylen Rayasa. Nicaylen is studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology and Environmental Studies at Ohio University. Along with fellow GJA-blogger, Janice Brewer, Nicaylen took the ‘Place-Making and Making-Places’ summer school module at the University of Edinburgh during July 2014 – you can read more about the group and their investigations of Global Justice here. In this post, Nicaylen considered the rise of Islamic State and how this intersects with climate change.
This past winter in the Fertile Crescent was particularly harsh for farmers, in what is usually the wettest part of the year. It ended up to be the hottest and driest winter on record.
While prolonged droughts and record heat have been commonplace for many parts of the world, the Iraq-Syria region brings an interesting political dynamic to the climate regime.The region’s climate is based historically on dry summers and rainy winters. However, climate change and the uptick in temperatures has transformed land use and increased desertification during extended droughts. Extreme versions of hot, dry summers have been more prevalent.
The Iraq-Syria conflict in the Middle East has been a growing regional issue for years now. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the Sunni Jihadist organisation responsible for the newfound violence in the region, arose earlier this year. Their emergence coincidently occurred during the hottest March-May period on record in Iraq.
In this second guest post, Janice Brewer investigates the tomato industry in the US and what common practice means for agricultural workers and social justice.
As summer rolls through, tomatoes flourish in all sorts of varieties, colors, sizes, and tastes. As I sink my teeth into an heirloom German tomato, grown 100% organically by Green Edge Gardens in Athens, Ohio, I am blown away by the flavour. I grew up hating tomatoes! So why was this tomato so special?
Tomatoes are thought to have originated in the Northern Andes Mountains where the weather tends to be warm and wet creating an optimal growing climate for tomatoes. When the Spanish invaded these areas they became intrigued by tomato and brought it back to Europe. Being apart of the Nightshade family – a wide group of flowering plants generally containing alkaloids – the tomato was originally thought of as poisonous and unfit for consumption but it later developed the name of the “love apple” and “golden apple” given by the French and Italians. In addition to it’s growing popularity in Europe, then North America, the tomato was found to have countless health benefits.
This guest post is by Janice Brewer. Janice is studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Specialised Studies at Ohio University, in Sustainable Food System Planning and Development. Janice took the ‘Place-Making and Making-Places’ summer school module at the University of Edinburgh during July 2014 – you can read more about the group and their investigations of Global Justice here. In this post, Janice recalls her visit to Eigg and what she learned about sustainability in an island setting.
While awaiting the Ferry in Mallaig I glanced across the blue waters to a special outline of an island I would soon visit.
The Inner Hebrides is sprinkled with over 30 inhabited islands, each with its own history and charm. Located just to the south of the Isle of Skye sits the Isle of Eigg stretching only 5.6 miles by 3.1 miles. Eigg is decorated with “Singing Sands” beach, dramatic climbs, and sheep Xing with every step. This seemingly “just another island” is pioneering is way out of the ordinary; 17 years ago the – now 83 – inhabitants bought the land and the island became community owned. On 1st February 2008 the island switched off the grid. Eigg is the first of its kind to develop an electricity system powered only by wind, water and solar energy. Electricity would become available 24 hours a day for the first time in this islands history. The community won first place in the Big Green Challenge to tackle climate change and received £300,000 from National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).
In this article, Dr. Elisa Morgera and Tom Gerald Daly explore the role that ‘Benefit-Sharing’ might be able to play in adressing the environmental challenges associated with the use of natural resources. The authors pose important questions about Benefit-Sharing and its potential to contribute to the protection and sustainability of natural resources, whilst enabling opportunities for the growth of communities, indiginous peoples and developing countries in culturally-sensitive and equitable ways. Could Benefit-Sharing present a tool to address these issues?
Divestment from fossil fuels is the focus of a campaign among students and other civil society groups that is gathering momentum – and faster, it seems, even than previous campaigns that targeted apartheid, tobacco and arms manufacturers. Universities are among the institutions to come under particular pressure to withdraw their investments in funds that yield profits directly from fossil fuel exploitation. But should they do so?