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Take a bite of Oxfam’s UK doughnut

In 2009 Johan Rockstrom and colleagues at the Stockholm Resilience Center published the Planetary Boundaries report. It identified nine environmental boundaries, and within them, a ‘safe space for humanity’. Kate Raworth, at Oxfam at the time, then added another element. Looking at the famous circular chart of the boundaries, she realised that no environmental impact […]

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Kettle chips, Coca Cola, and a cure for ebola

Yesterday I came across a new word that I can’t unsee: premiumisation. I read it in an article about Coca Cola, which is planning to move into the world of dairy with a new milk-with-bells-on called Fairlife. “It’s basically the premiumisation of milk” said company exec Sandy Douglas. It’s “a milk that’s premiumised and tastes […]

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wakawaka code

Pay-as-you-go solar power for the poor

All across Africa, low income households without electricity access depend on kerosene lamps or candles to light their homes after dark. It’s not a steady or consistent light, and it’s a fire risk. There are health risks from kerosene fumes too. Despite the poor quality of the light, it doesn’t come cheap. The average family […]

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Building of the week – the solar canal

1.2 billion people in the world don’t have access to electricity, and therefore lack the life-changing technologies of electric light, refrigeration, power tools, or computing. A quarter of those 1.2 billion unconnected people live in India, and providing electricity to them is one of the government’s big priorities. It’s a major challenge – imagine bringing […]

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monsanto india

The environmentalism of the poor

Concern for the environment is often described as a luxury, something that emerging middle classes can pick up once more pressing development needs have been met. It’s an argument that some developing countries have used to duck out of climate change negotiations. It’s also used by commentators who say that economic growth is the most […]

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The Seamstress

The three dimensions of energy access

This week I’ve been checking in on Practical Action’s 2014 edition of the Poor People’s Energy Outlook, an important series of reports that has highlighted how and why we should extend cheap energy to everyone. They make a strong case for energy access as a key component of development, freeing people from drudgery, improving health, […]

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food banks

The trouble with food banks

Food banks have been a growing phenomenon in Britain over the last few years. They have become Exhibit A in the argument that our wealth is inequitably shared, the economic recovery isn’t reaching everyone, and that poverty remains real and serious in Britain today. Here’s a example that arrived in my inbox yesterday. That’s from […]

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Climate change action for the poor

One of the common arguments against action on climate change is that it is expensive. Both rich and poor countries use that excuse, but when developing countries use it is usually framed along the lines of sustainability as a luxury. Once we reach a certain level of industrialisation, the argument goes, we can start looking […]

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15 global challenges for humanity

There are lots of ways you could summarise the most pressing questions of this century and draw up a list of priorities. The UN’s post-2015 agenda is one example, outlining a to-do list to replace the Millennium Development Goals. Here’s another, taken from the State of the Future report by the Millennium Project. They update […]

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Energy poverty in a single graphic

A couple of weeks ago I posted a striking graphic about energy poverty from the Center for Global Development. Here’s another from the same set of graphics: A third of the world’s population doesn’t have access to cheap energy. Progress is so slow that unless things speed up considerably, there will still be  900 million […]

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