Over the course of the last century technology and economics have made much progress. However, we still aren’t able to find a solution to some problems which represent serious threats to the ecological, economic and social stability of our planet: according to the latest FAO’s report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World (2014), global hunger reduction continues, but still about 805 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished; at a global level, 14.5% of the population live with less than $1.25 a day, and that figure grows to 46.8% with regards to sub-Saharan countries; economic and social inequality is on the rise and the measures put in place by the international community to stop climate change are insufficient. Is there a connection between all of these issues? What are the ultimate consequences of persistent poverty and rising levels of inequality around the world? How to stop civil conflicts in African countries? Can empowering women’s right in poor countries part of the solution? Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB and a recognized global leader on social development policy answered to these and other questions.
According to several studies (by the European Central Bank, Credit Suiss, The World Top Income Database, Oxfam International), the distributions of wealth and incomes are becoming ever more ‘unequal.’ It is estimated that ‘just 1% of the global population hold 41% of the total global wealth.’ And the estimate has recently been revised upward. Increasing inequality can badly effect the structure of our society and cause extremely negative consequences. Why is inequality such an important issue to face in global political agenda? What are the causes and the consequences of the current upward trend in inequality? What are the countries most affected by increasing inequality? Is it possible to stop this tendency? How? Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%, and other books on social issues, answered to these and other questions.
In January 2014 Oxfam International published a Report, Working for the Few: Political Capture and Economic Inequality, arguing that, left unchecked, income inequality is a self-feeding phenomenon by which the rich are able to capture government policymaking and high-quality services. In October 2014, Oxfam published another Report, Even It Up: Time to end extreme inequality, substantially confirming the findings of the previous report. According to Oxfam’s Reports, ‘only 85 people in the world owns as much as the bottom half of the world’s population’ and ‘The past quarter of a century has seen wealth become ever more concentrated in the hands of fewer people.’ More recently, during the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos (January 21-24, 2015), Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director, showed the results of a new Report, ‘Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More:’ by 2016 The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent. The fact that the distributions of wealth and incomes are becoming ever more ‘unequal,’ is also confirmed by other several studies (the European Central Bank, Credit Suiss, The World Top Income Database). Why is economic inequality such an important issue to face in the global political agenda? What are the causes and the consequences of the current upward trend in inequality? Is it possible to stop this negative tendency? How? Nick Galasso, co-author of Working For the Few: Political Capture and Economic Inequality, and other books on social issues, answered to these and other questions.
Since the second half of the nineteenth century, the world has been hit by a dangerous loss of “agricultural biodiversity”, both in terms of species (inter-species biodiversity) and existing varieties within the same species (intra-species biodiversity). One of the main driving factors of such a dangerous phenomenon is the increasing diffusion of industrial practices in agriculture. In fact, the use of a limited number of uniformed agricultural plant species, in defense of an industrialized and centralized high yield agricultural model, has led to a fatal genetic flattening in the seeds. However, several studies show that this process can’t ensure the genetic diversity the agricultural system need in order to address the following future challenges: climate change, population increase, resistance to new diseases and insects. Why is biodiversity so important for our planet? Why the role of seeds (and so the debate on them) is so crucial for our future? And why the current international regulatory framework on the market of seed is dangerous for biodiversity and the survival of small farmers? Are big corporations really better than small farmers? Pat Roy Mooney, ETC Group’s executive director and one of the greatest experts of agricultural biodiversity, answered to those and other questions.
In the last few years “Fertile Lands” in poor countries have attracted a huge amount of investments from rich countries and corporations for different reasons: feeding rich populations, producing biofuels, simply making profits. These investments are often made in a non-transparent way, and at the expenses of local communities’ rights and wellness. This phenomenon is known as “Land Grabbing” and was first disclosed by “GRAIN”, a non-profit organization that supports the activities of local farmers around the world. Despite the great efforts of GRAIN in revealing and monitoring “Land Grabbing”, the phenomenon is not yet well-known, and hasn’t received enough attention by the international media broadcasting. However, Land Grabbing does exist and very often badly damages the rights of local communities. But what does exactly mean “Land Grabbing”? When did it start? When a foreign investment can be properly classified as Land Grabbing? What are the consequences for local communities and how are they reacting? Is a foreign investment real beneficial for them? What are the possible future scenarios for Land Grabbing? Henk Hobbelink, co-founder of GRAIN, answered to these and other questions.