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Polar regions INTERNATIONAL GENEVA
Saving the SDGs: Project 1800
PHOTO ©Kristjan Fridriksson / JONAA
Volunteering in Nicaragua
FROM THE FIELD
The Balkans Living After Genocide
ISSUE 04 • SUMMER EDITION 2018 • SWITZERLAND 8CHF • FRANCE 8EUR
Reaching International Switzerland & Beyond
What’s in this issue? SUMMER EDITION 2018 SEE MORE ONLINE @ WWW.GLOBAL-GENEVA.COM
EDITORS Dirty Dancing and the Polar Challenge
POLAR FOCUS Earth’s Sentinels for our Climate Future: Why Polar Studies Are Essential
POLAR FOCUS Including the Sixth Sense in Arctic Work
14 |A LETTER FROM ICELAND
TACKLING POLAR DISORDER:
17 |TOURIST TRAP POETRY:
AGENT PROVOCATEUR We’d better listen to what the Polar regions tell us
FROM THE FIELD
The View from Greenland: Grappling with context
The Third Pole: Letter from (a critical observer in) the Himalayas
FROM THE FIELD Lions in Conflict
FROM THE FIELD Bosnia-Herzegovina: Revisiting Life After Genocide
Saving the SDGs — as well as the world — and it may be the way to go
GENEVA AIRPORT: THE CHALLENGES — AND PROBLEMS — FACING INTERNATIONAL GENEVA’S AERIAL GATEWAY
The #MeToo Movement, Whistleblowing & Leadership Failure
40 |DOMINICA: COPING WITH DISASTER 42 |INVESTING TO PREVENT DISASTER
CULTURE France’s Crumbling Chateaux: Not the Only Cultural Heritage Under Threat
Step Academy: Time for an IT revolution
CULTURE Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s Slippery Slope in Switzerland
CULTURE Book Publishing Contronts the Internet
CELESTIAL SPHERE: 60 |GENEVA’S MORE THAN JUST A SYMBOL OF PEACE BUSINESS IN THE ARCTIC:
2018 Summer Events
WHICH COMES FIRST?
A Letter from Nicaragua: Volunteering to help, but also to learn
64 |INFRASTRUCTURE OR INVESTMENT -
Northern Reindeer: Adapting to Survive
SHORT STORY: AMERICAN LOTTERY
GREEN BIKE TRAILS 66 |SWITZERLAND’S LES VOIES VERTES
YOUTH JOURNALISM IN SCHOOLS:
72 |HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE UNDERSTAND AND CREATE CREDIBLE INFORMATION
Dirty dancing and the polar challenge Special Thanks THE EDITORS WOULD LIKE TO THANK VERA MICHALSKI-HOFFMANN FOR HER GENEROUS DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT GRANT enabling us to proceed with the next several editions of Global Geneva magazine. We trust that other individuals and organizations will also join the Friends of Global Geneva Support Group to help us produce the quality journalism in the public interest that we believe is imperative to keep people, whether young or old, and regardless whether in Switzerland or elsewhere in the world, informed about issues that matter.
A SUCCESSFUL EXPORTER I KNEW FROM A DESPERATELY POOR tropical country found himself providing welfare for his employees: education for their kids, a creche for women workers and health care. Sure it cut into his profits. But it proved even more important than the wages in keeping staff, and it embedded his company in the local community. For him it was a sound business decision. How many multinationals and businesses in developing countries or elsewhere could show they do the same? Perhaps thatâ€™s how we should be looking at businesses in the polar regions as well as elsewhere. They might say this restricts the freedom of private enterprise. Too bad. Quick profits for some should not take precedence over societal sustainability for others. As our reports here indicate, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 play little part today in polar discussions. The conventional answers are all focused on economic development rather than cultural survival. Perhaps Polar2018 in Davos with its 2000 participants on 15-20 June 2018 will make a difference to the debate. Not just for the polar regionsâ€™ people but also for others who are equally remote from the mainstream of the industrial world, such as people in high-altitude communities, whether in the Himalayas or remote mountains. But as this summer 2018 edition of Global Geneva also shows, such cultures are under threat from commercialization of the
non-renewable resources these regions offer, whether in Greenland or the high latitudes of northern Europe, under the ice sheet or in the mountains. It’s a problem that goes back hundreds of years. Perhaps it’s time to judge businesses by the standards of my exporter friend rather than their promises of quick prosperity for investors. What are they doing to support the SDGs?
As for migration to escape the worst effects, voters in large parts of the new Europe and the United States have shown they don’t welcome such people, who are refugees in all but name and often full of entrepreneurship. Charles Norchi describes the Arctic situation accurately as a dance between major external powers for access and control. But it’s a dirty dance rather than a cooperative waltz.
As William Dowell reports, a Swiss-backed initiative led by Arthur Wood is trying to marry the two approaches in a development package that is interesting to investors as well as conventional funders and local people.
The history of colonial Greenland is a tale of top-down cultural dissolution and individual assimilation with the mainland that many Greenlanders are still struggling to overcome, as Hans Peder Kirkegaard recounts.
It’s hardly a novel idea. One of my favourite writers, Douglas Rushkoff, documented the alternatives last year in “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity”. He explains clearly how the growth obsession of conventional economics has undermined social, cultural and even local sustainability. His answers would give more weight to the reindeer herders and indigenous populations of Greenland than the external or internal profit-takers from the regions’ non-renewable resources. We can’t be optimistic about this, to judge from our record so far. The island of Dominica was the last home of the original Caribs – those Indians from Pirates of the Caribbean who gave us the word cannibals because of Jesuit misinterpretations and prejudice against local cultural norms (the bones were kept in tribute to an honoured enemy). The Caribs successfully made it impossible for French, English and Spanish colonizers to take over the island for centuries. Now it has been devastated, as Jeff Carmel reports, by a freak hurricane that it is hard to blame on anything but global warming.
Neither overarching treaties as in Antarctica or piecemeal (and therefore fragmentary) pacts in the Arctic give us any hope of controlling the effects of global warming on the lower, more prosperous latitudes of our planet from catastrophic changes produced in the polar regions and high altitudes. If we can’t find an answer, the rest of the world will suffer inexorably. But the peoples of the polar regions and high-altitudes will have already paid the price from our lack of commitment to the spirit of the SDGs. As for my exporter, I’ve no idea how he is doing. His country and city were swept by a devastating hurricane a couple of years ago. But is that an argument for telling him he should have taken his money and run? Peter Hulm, Contributing Editor
Our guest commentator Peter Hulm and his wife, a marine biologist and editor, spend their year between the Swiss village of Erschmatt in the Valais and the Bahamas. 2018 SUMMER EDITION DEVELOPED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
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EARTH’S SENTINELS FOR OUR CLIMATE FUTURE:
Why polar studies are essential Antarctica holds nearly two-thirds of the planet’s fresh water and sea levels would rise by 70m if the ice in the polar regions all melted. As climate change specialist and polar explorer Dr Paul Andrew Mayewski writes, we are rapidly endangering our very survival as a result of human industrialization’s impact on polar regions. And researchers have only recently woken up to what was only a theory rapid, non-linear physical changes in the polar regions affecting the whole world.
FOR CENTURIES, THE POLAR REGIONS were considered the most timeless, unchanging parts of the earth. A common belief was that they had little relevance to the ‘civilized’ world. Early European explorers created maps in the process of hunting for seals, whales and other marine life, and these were used for generations. Arctic native peoples, however, were among the few who learned not only to survive, but how to thrive in their surroundings. There has never been an indigenous people occupying the Antarctic. Today the Arctic people, scientists and governments realize that the assumed timeless stability of the polar regions is being rapidly disturbed as a consequence of human activity emanating almost solely from elsewhere on the planet. As someone who has led many expeditions throughout Antarctica, Greenland, and many other high
and cold places, I consider myself truly privileged for the opportunity to experience these environments. Standing on the high plateau in the centre of Antarctica, thousands of kilometres from civilization, I have been able to view, through the crystal-clear air, the curvature of the Earth, to breathe in the cleanest air on the planet, to drink Earth’s cleanest water (albeit after melting it in a tent in the midst of temperatures as low as -50oC), and, when the wind stops, to hear my heart beat in my ears because there is no other noise. I have also felt the cold biting wind seems to pass right through me as we ascended the last mountain before the South Pole, and spent many days tent-bound, waiting for storms to pass, surrounded by a world of swirling snow where companions’ voices can barely be heard and depth perception is replaced by just whiteness.
The effects of climate change on polar regions The polar regions are still vast, largely unexplored, beautiful and treacherous, but we are now in the process of rapidly overpowering what we always thought were timeless landscapes as the following reveal: •
Arctic warming and sea-ice loss; permafrost degradation and collapse of coastlines creating infrastructure disruption and migration from heritage living areas; Arctic ecosystem upheaval resulting from overhunting, resource exploitation and increased human occupation; Antarctic and Arctic ozone depletion resulting in ecosystem exposure to solar radiation; Influx to the Arctic and Antarctic of: - toxic substances, such as lead and sulphur, from industrial emissions resulting in increased levels of cancer, respiratory and neurological disease; and - radioactivity from nuclear bomb testing, accidents and waste build-up causing significant health issues for humans and ecosystems. Weather extremes, such as drought, floods, storms, heat and cold waves, increasing in frequency and magnitude as a consequence of climate change in the polar regions.
The Arctic is an ocean fringed by land. The Antarctic, on the other hand, is an ice sheet surrounded by ocean. Arctic sea ice is partially anchored by land, while the Antarctic’s extends seaward without terra firma anchoring. The difference from white snow and ice to dark ocean surface means, in its extremes, that most incoming solar radiation is reflected or drawn in because of the absorbing nature of white and dark surfaces making the polar regions vast reflectors, and seasonal sea ice one of the greatest seasonal events on the planet.
Travelling across these highly reflective surfaces means a sunburn for any exposed skin in addition to windburn. Changes in the size and seasonal timing of these reflectors alter the distribution of temperature over the planet and the winds driven by these differences. In addition, when the ocean is covered by sea ice, even the relatively thin 1-3 metres common in the polar regions, heat is trapped in the ocean. Surface circulation is thus slowed by lack of contact with the wind that drives ocean waves. When sea-ice concentration declines, polar oceans release some of their trapped heat ‒ leading to “polar amplification”. This happens in reverse too, so that increased sea ice prevents heat being released from the ocean. The Arctic-Antarctic geographic distinction is an essential underlying theme when considering three basic climate elements: surface temperature, atmospheric circulation, and sea-ice concentration that document polar climate change. As Figure 1 shows, there is a marked cold core for the Arctic centred over Greenland and another one over the Antarctic. The coldest near-surface temperatures are found over the highest portions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Temperatures at these points are roughly -20oC and -60oC, respectively. The Greenland ice sheet is approximately 1.7 million km2, 2400 km x 1100 km with a maximum thickness of roughly 3000 m. All of it rests on a continental substrate. If melted completely, it would increase sea level by some seven metres. In contrast, Antarctic ice spreads across 14 million km2, some 5600 km x 4400 km with a maximum thickness of 4800 m. Melted completely, it would increase sea level by approximately 60m. The eastern part rests on continental substrate, while the western side facing South America lies on islands that are below sea level. This makes at least the western side of the Antarctic ice sheet potentially less stable. It can float off more easily. Portions of West Antarctica, coastal Greenland and many mountain glaciers melted during the Eemian interglacial, the last naturally warm period lasting 130,000 to
FIGURE 1 Temperature at 2m above the surface (annual oC) using ERA-Interim climate data, plotted using Climate ReanalyzerTM for the period 1979-2015 left (Arctic), right (Antarctic).
POLAR FOCUS | Earthâ€™s sentinels for our climate future: Why polar studies are essential
115,000 years ago. Sea levels increased at this time by one to three metres in response to a temperature rise of 1oC to 2oC. Forests reached into the Arctic circle and hippos swam in the Thames and Rhine rivers. Recent temperature changes over the Arctic and Antarctic appear in Figure 2. We examine surface temperature changes by contrasting the 2000-2015 period with that of 1979-1999. During the more recent period the eastern Arctic warmed by up to 4oC. This is equivalent to a doubling in the length of summer in this area. Closer scrutiny reveals that the warming happened in less than 5 years, making this the first abrupt climate change of the modern era. The temperature records also demonstrate that climate need not change slowly or steadily. In fact, we discovered from our research on past climate, using Greenland ice cores in the 1990s, that climate can change abruptly (in less than 1-5 years) under certain conditions, and now one of these conditions â€“ greenhouse gas increase â€“ is higher than anytime in at least the last 800,000 years and has grown at a significantly faster rate. Recognizing this potential for rapid transition in future climate predictions is essential if we are to develop plausible constructions of what is to come. In certain areas, climate change can be expected to proceed in abrupt jumps. With continued warming, release of carbon trapped in frozen ground in the Arctic increases this likelihood. Over the Antarctic there are notable areas of warming, such as the Antarctic Peninsula, floating ice shelves and other coastal zones through southward migration of warm mid-latitude air, and warm ocean currents. Scientific discussion of atmospheric circulation can be complex. One approach concerns zonal wind (the wind that runs along lines of latitude, where by definition positive (or negative) refers to winds that flow from west to east (or east to west) measured in metres per second
FIGURE 2 Temperature anomaly at 2m above the surface (annual oC) using ERA-Interim climate data, plotted using Climate ReanalyzerTM for the period 2000-2015 minus 19791999 (left Arctic), right (Antarctic).
at 850 mbar (approximately 1500m altitude) in the atmosphere. The Southern Hemisphere westerlies flow around the Antarctic over the Southern Ocean, with their only continental constriction being the passage between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. Arctic westerlies, on the other hand, are diverted in their flow by the continents surrounding the Arctic Ocean. Recent changes in zonal winds are significantly associated with temperature change in the polar atmosphere. Over the Northern Hemisphere westerly winds have tended to weaken, largely in response to greenhouse gas-induced Arctic warming. This has resulted in a temperature decrease from the Arctic to the mid-latitudes and therefore a weakening of the barrier between cold Arctic air and warm air to the south. This in turn leads to tongues of cold air moving further south with warm air moving further north than usual.
GREATER WEATHER INSTABILITY: IT IS ALREADY CLEAR WHAT IS HAPPENING This was particularly evident in the 30 December 2015 invasion of warm air that resulted in above-freezing temperatures at the North Pole (Figure 7). Since then, the same thing has occurred again and will likely occur more frequently in the future. A weakening of this westerly wind barrier leads to more regions where cold and warm air collide, resulting in greater weather instability. This suggests a clear forecast for the Northern Hemisphere if not for global climate: greater instability. As a result of greenhouse gas warming of the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes (Figure 4), westerly winds surrounding the Antarctic have contracted poleward like those in the Arctic, but around the Antarctic they have strengthened rather than weakened. This is related to the temperature difference between the
Into unexplored territory in Northern Victoria Land, Antarctic. From “Journey Into Climate” Paul A. Mayewski and Michael C. Morrison, 2011.
Antarctic and the mid-latitudes. There is some heat loss over the interior plateau associated with the human-induced Antarctic ozone hole because ozone traps some incoming solar radiation and, in combination with mid-latitude warming, this steepens the temperature difference, leading to an increase westerly windspeeds. Cooling of surface waters over vast parts of the Southern Ocean (Figure 2) is a direct response to the rise in these zonal wind speeds that drive away surface waters to be replaced by deeper and colder water upwelling from below. A major question is what will happen as the ozone hole heals over coming decades while greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow? Will this lead to stronger or weaker zonal winds? If weaker, or displaced even further south, warm air will penetrate farther inland over the ice sheet creating both increased melting and greater climate instability. Changes in sea-ice concentration are in direct response to variations in surface temperature and winds. Arctic sea ice has decreased dramatically, due primarily to greenhouse gas-induced warming and the polar amplification associated with this loss of sea-ice. In contrast, Antarctic sea-ice has both decreased and increased. The former is associated primarily with the influx of warmer mid-latitude air and southward migration of more tepid ocean currents. The latter is a combination of strong zonal wind buffering (limiting warm air invasion from the north) and the intensification of shoreward-moving, katabatic(gravity-driven) winds. These are intensified by strengthened westerlies driven onto the Antarctic
ice sheet. In turn, these cause the katabatic winds to increase, pushing sea ice further into the ocean, by breaking and opening gaps in the ice that freeze.
BOTH THE ARCTIC AND ANTARCTIC ARE CHANGING RAPIDLY – AND WITH DIRE CONSEQUENCES The polar regions still offer many surprises and require significantly more scientific investigation. However, they are now clearly known to be changing rapidly, impacting our planet’s health, economy, geopolitics, and quality of life. The people and ecosystems of the Arctic have been among the first to suffer the results of greenhouse gas warming. They are also among the most affected. This is now causing significant climate instability throughout the Northern Hemisphere. At the same time, climate change over the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean is altering the distribution of ecosystems and in particular water availability in Australia and South Africa, such as recent shortages in Cape Province. But this only represents the early stages of the polar regions’ response to human intervention in the climate system.
Dr. Paul Andrew Mayewski is Director of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine in the United States. He has led more than 55 expeditions to some of the remotest polar and high altitude reaches of the planet. Mayewski is also recipient of numerous honours such as the first internationally awarded Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research and the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Medal.
POLAR FOCUS: MEDIA & EXPEDITIONS
Including the sixth sense in Arctic work Northern indigenous peoples are becoming increasingly outspoken in their demands to have a greater say in the decision-making and future planning of the Arctic region as producer and editor Vilborg Einarsdottir reports from Greenland. “SPEAK TO US, INCLUDE US. WE HAVE LIVED IN THE ARTIC for thousands of years; we are the ones who know it best,” said Okalik Eegeesiak, Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) to an audience of policymakers, scientists and business people at one of the early Arctic Circle Assemblies in Iceland, in 2014. Sitting among them, I found it a peculiar point, but to Ms Eegeesiak it was one that had to be made for all the right reasons. So much decision-making concerning the Arctic and its native people has happened through the centuries without seriously including their voice or asking their opinion. The same goes for research that has often neglected to include the experience and wisdom of those who have lived in this remote and harsh north for centuries, surviving its towering, demanding nature, that is so much larger than man. Looking back two decades, I find it hard to comprehend how anyone can expect to operate on any level in the Arctic without weaving together local know-how and wisdom with whatever expertise is required for the job. In my case, ‘the job’ would simply not have happened any other way. As a film and photographic media producer, I have been privileged to work since 1996 in extreme locations throughout Greenland, organizing more than 40 productions on the sea-ice, the pack-ice, glaciers, mountains, ice floes and icebergs. Locations where Mother Nature sets every rule. Not knowing and respecting her rules can quickly turn to disaster. Even fatal. It is a place where being a successful producer has less to do with finding glorious “out-of-this-world” locations, but everything to do with taking the time and using the knowledge to properly select locations in order to make them safe for crews to work. For that to happen, every production requires the right people, the right equipment and the right backup, plus a firm awareness of the fact that mistakes in the Arctic can cost lives. In other words, it is all about safety. This also means understanding that an extreme location represents a complicated and potentially dangerous environment. One needs to know the local snow and ice conditions, the
weather and the cold coupled with the limitations – or opportunities – brought by the hours of light. One needs to rely on the essential know-how required for bringing in crews from far away and often very different places, and to ensure that they remain creative, focused and unafraid in Arctic conditions. One also needs to know how to react to changes in these conditions should they happen. This means having a B plan, and a C plan and a D plan and then, if need be, being able to put them into action. Years of professional expertise can go a long way. At the end of the day, however, the real knowledge and expertise needed can only originate from years of work and survival on the ice. It is recognizing that critical ‘sixth sense’ of reading the ice, snow and weather that comes from living in the Arctic hunting communities. This I learned in 1996 and this has been the foundation for all the productions that I have organized. From the very beginning, my locations team base their work on careful planning coupled with a combination of local and professional expertise. This three-man team, connected by a longtime friendship and shared experiences, respect and, most importantly, trust each other with their lives. They are led by Kristjan Fridrikssson, an Icelandic art director/photographer turned Arctic-locations specialist. Kristjan left his post as an advertisement agency owner and commercials director to spend a year travelling, photographing and documenting the ice and Arctic locations in East Greenland with two native hunters. He quickly understood the realities of what was needed in terms of safety, logistics and infrastructure if one was to bring foreign productions to Greenland to film and photograph. The other two members are Tobias Ignatiussen and Ulrik Sanimuniaq. Each has brought his own essential local expertise to the project. Combined with my own production expertise, this team is the only reason that I have been able to do my fascinating job as an Arctic producer for so many years. Both Tobias and Ulrik are natives, members of the Ammassalimiut Inuit from Greenland’s East Coast. Anthropology defines them as the “world’s most recently discovered civilization”, an indigenous society discovered
Fashion photo shoot for Donna Karan with photographer Peter Lindbergh on an iceberg 9 km off the shore of East Greenland. ©Kristjan Fridriksson / JONAA
in 1884 when they consisted of only 419 people. Today, they number some 4,000. They speak East-Greenlandic, an Inuit language not easily understood by the rest of the Greenlandic people. This tongue has never existed in written form; it is amazing to have survived. Tobias and Ulrik are in many ways very different hunters with very different experiences. Both are regarded as superior hunters and respected as such in their communities. And both have made lifetime careers rooted in the culture and traditions of the Ammassalimiut heritage. Ulrik for example, learned to hunt from his father, catching his first seal at the age of eight and his first polar bear at the age of thirteen. It is that knowledge and experience that has brought food to their family tables. Both will tell you the type, gender, size and probable age of a seal which to you may be a tiny black dot in the ocean hundreds of metres away. Or tell you to look “there” pointing to a totally calm spot on the surface of the sea, seconds before that majestic whale surfaces. Or figure out from polar-bear footprints in the snow, how long it is since it passed by, the weight of the animal, and whether it is male or female, young or old. And should the polar bear be caught, their assumptions will be proven right. One unforgettable moment for me was returning to an ice-covered bay after a night of heavy rainfall. The rain had cleared roughly a metre of the newly fallen snow that we had travelled across on snow scooters and dogsleds the previous day. Ulrik, who was in the lead, suddenly summoned everyone to stop. He looked in silence over the even field of unbroken snow and then led the group zigzagging over the fjord. Standing in the same spot the next day I saw why. The rain had exposed an alarming, partly-open crack, criss-crossing the ice. It was a crack avoided the previous day because Ulrik had somehow read the ice and what was beneath it and had steered us out of harm’s way. This is that sixth sense.
On another occasion, we were sailing back with three boats from location through heavy pack-ice on our way to East Greenland’s main town, Tasiilaq. Midway through the two-hour trip we were hit in an instant by fog so solid and dense that passing icebergs only became slightly visible when they scraped the side of the first boat, near enough to touch. In retrospect, there was something magical to that vision. But at the time, there was nothing magical. What brought us safely to shore was Tobias’s experience, navigational skills and understanding of the ice. In such conditions, he closed the compass and relied on his instincts. Steering the first boat, he worked it through the pack-ice like an icebreaker, inching through it and making a trail for the other two to follow. What began as yet another beautiful boat trip passing the occasional iceberg turned into a silent cruise through seemingly solid ice. After four hours of careful navigation in a fog just as black as before, we suddenly found ourselves by the pier in Tasiilaq. That sixth sense again. It has kept these hunters alive, and in such situations, it has kept me and my people alive. Tobias and Ulrik simply read ice and snow like the rest of us read a book. Their respect for the Arctic environment and all its living things is the core of how they live and work. They not only understand the elements, they feel them. They sense the changes and make the right decisions. Such knowledge, wisdom and understanding of often fast changing conditions is precisely the point made by Ms Eegeesiak in her speech. Wisdom originating from life experiences and lessons learned and passed down through generations of living in the Arctic is wisdom and experience too important to ignore.
Vilborg Einarsdottir is the editor in chief of JONAA, the Journal of the North Atlantic & Arctic - a media platform of current affairs, information and opinion – created for regional and global stakeholders in the North Atlantic and Arctic region. 13
PHOTOGRAPHY ©Icelandic Tourism Office
A Letter from Iceland Global Geneva contributing editor Charles Norchi is currently Fulbright-Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arctic Scholar in Iceland. He sends this letter from Akureyri, the country’s second largest city, settled by the Vikings in the 9th century. THE SNOW IS RECEDING FROM THE HILLS OF AKUREYRI along with the darkness and clicks of crampons on theicecovered sidewalks. The northern lights have faded. Greenery, tourists and harbour whales now re-appear. The town of Akureyri, population 18,000, is a short sail to the island of Grímsey, population 100. Latitude 66° 33´ N runs through north Grímsey, thus securing Iceland´s position as an Arctic state. And Akureyri is Iceland´s gateway to the Arctic. The town is home to Arctic Council working groups on the Marine Environment (PAME), and Flora and Fauna (CAFF). The Stefánsson Arctic Institute named for the Icelandic-Canadian explorer Vilhjálmur Stefánsson; the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and other specialized organizations are all headquartered in one building. The University of Akureyri occupies the adjacent building and offers a degree in Polar Law which compares polar-opposite legal systems that share a common condition — the cryosphere: water in solid form. The cryosphere has long been the driver of polar activity exploration, hunting, fishing, research, shipping, drilling, mining, conservation, livelihoods, geopolitics — and the law intended to regulate and facilitate those activities. The Akureyri research institute named after Stefánsson is a reminder that science underpins exploration. In Antarctica, the 1840 expedition of British Naval officer
and scientist James Clark Ross identified the enormous ice barrier now known as the Ross Ice Shelf. In 1881 Adolphus Greely commanded an Arctic expedition for the first International Polar Year to establish a series of meteorological-observation stations and became the first president of the Explorers Club. Physician and ethnographer Frederick Albert Cook claimed to have reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908, a year before fellow Explorers Club member Robert Peary. Cook was made President of the Club and then kicked out when his polar claim was rejected by the University of Copenhagen. In 1909 Robert Peary and Matthew Henson used Inuit indigenous knowledge in their attempt to reach the North Pole. The Norwegian Roald Amundsen (another Explorers Club member) first sailed the Northwest Passage. The objective of the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott was to reach the South Pole for the British Empire and to advance science. Scott and his men perished and Amundsen reached the South Pole first. The 1914-1917 Trans-Antarctica Expedition of Ernest Shackleton on the vessel Endurance ended in near disaster. After leaving most of his crew on Elephant Island, Shackleton with four men set out in a row/sail boat over 1,000 miles of open sea, returning on a Chilean steamboat to rescue his stranded crew three
months later. In the public imagination, the polar regions were associated with exploration, adventure and ice.
SCIENCE OVER POLITICAL AND TERRITORIAL COMPETITION Antarctica was terra nullius under the international law of the period. Hence territory was claimed and national flags planted. But as science became paramount, competition receded, states cooperated and this transformed law in the Antarctic. During the 1957 International Geophysical Year, inter-state cooperation enabled 12 nations to establish more than 60 research stations on the continent. This became institutionalized with the Antarctic Treaty signed at Washington on December 1, 1959. The treaty sets geopolitics and territorial claims aside, demilitarizes the continent and facilitates scientific cooperation. There are now 50 state-parties with a Secretariat in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the last International Polar Year of 2007-2009, researchers cooperated in both polar regions during summer and winter. In the Antarctic, science drove cooperation and nationstate claims were “frozen”. But geopolitics still permeates the Arctic, albeit les intensively than during the Cold War. Russia operates many High Arctic vessels-ships and submarines – including a fleet of nuclear powered icebreakers. President Vladimir Putin has indicated an urgent need for Russia to secure strategic, economic, scientific and defence interests in the Arctic. Russia’s Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command has Arctic responsibility and has increased military flights near Canadian and Danish airspace. NATO’s Arctic member states – the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Iceland – have reinforced defence capabilities. Thule Air Base in northwest Greenland is the northernmost American military base. The former air base in Iceland is now the international airport at Keflavik. The Arctic comprises the world’s fourth largest ocean and eight Arctic Circle states: Russia, Canada, Denmark by virtue of Greenland, Norway, Sweden, United States, Finland and Iceland. Most activities are subject to the law of the sea and maritime law. But unlike Antarctica, there is no Arctic treaty. States mostly assert claims through institutions established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or by means of diplomacy, propaganda and force. Russia has asserted claims to nearly 1.2 million square kilometres of territory, including the North Pole in a submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). In 2007 a Russian expedition planted the country’s flag 4200m underwater, directly below the North Pole. Despite occasional tensions, the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental organization established in 1996, encourages cooperation. Comprising governments, NGOs and indigenous communities, it is a forum that assures science is at the centre of decision-making on matters such as the environment, navigation, fisheries, economic
development and indigenous peoples. The Council Secretariat is in Tromsø, Norway and is currently chaired by Finland under the rotational system. Separate treaties and agreements relating to the northern polar region including the 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, and the 2017 Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation and the Polar Code pertaining to navigation which is applicable in both polar regions. A new treaty for the conservation of marine life is being considered by the United Nations and could apply to the Central Arctic Ocean.
DANCING FOR ACCESS — AND CONTROL What has been termed the “scramble for the Arctic” is in reality a dance of access and control. The dance implicates the environment, navigation (Is the North West Passage Canadian or international waters?), oil and gas, commercial fishing, security, and emerging business ventures. It affects indigenous peoples and the resources they steward. And access is sought by the so-called “near Arctic States” – China, India, Korea and Singapore, all of which would benefit from Arctic shipping routes that are shorter than the traditional South China Sea, Suez and Panama routes. And at the centre of Arctic relations is this land of fire and ice –as Iceland punching above its weight. The Althingi, Iceland’s parliament since 930, has identified as priorities the Arctic Council, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, fisheries, climate change, sustainable use of natural resources, security, commerce and collaboration with the Faroe Islands and Greenland with special attention to indigenous peoples. Akureyri is now a magnet for many working on theses about High North issues. In 2019 Iceland will assume the chair of the Arctic Council and thereby influence answers to the question of who will get what, how and why in the Arctic. This is the regional dance. But science, especially knowledge of cryospheric change, will condition the weal and woe of polar life. The dance is far from over.
Contributing editor Charles H. Norchi is Co-Chair of the Arctic Futures Institute (USA) and the Benjamin Thompson Professor of Law, University of Maine School of Law.
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Tourist Trap by Carla Drysdale
“Not a Sea but a River of ice; wave forms on its surface; structure and strata” Every year it shrinks the height of three men.
wrong, like touching the inside of a body. “White ice-seams; beyond a certain intensity, light ceases to be light and becomes mere pain”
When we finally climbed down all 400 grip strut metal stairs, Hell was cold. Melting.
Glassy tunnels glow in lollipop red, blue and green.
The Mer de Glace contains 4,000 million cubic metres of frozen water. As you read this, less.
Its mouth rains like a water park ride.
“On the 20th of July, I made a long excursion up the glacier, examining the moraines, the crevasses, the structure, the moulins, and the disintegration of the surface.” And so new steps are added, going down. “Measurements commenced; glacier tables; first view of the dirt bands” We are a handful of half a million people who thump down diamond pattern safety steps each year. “I was accompanied by a boy named Eduourd Balmat and found him so good an iceman that I was induced to take him with me on the following day also.” At the bottom, a maze inside the glacier with giant ice sculptures of polar bears, king and queen chairs. “Sliding and viscous theories; surfaces sparkled with minute stars” We stay on the soaked green carpet runner, backed by rubber.
“The stars hung like gems above us.” We unfurl umbrellas on the way out. “One star in particular, which lay eastward from the moon, suddenly made its appearance above one of the Aiguilles,” It’s a long way up those stairs. “…and burned there with unspeakable splendour.” An overweight woman is crying. “Our guide uncoiled a rope and tied us all together.” My son’s camera clatters onto the ice. “Our little party seemed so lonely and so small…” His stone mason cousin from Colorado hops the wire fence, hands it back to him. “…amid the silence and the vastness of the surrounding scene.” We take a few selfies before it disappears.
Sliding our hands over the cold blue walls feels
Carla Drysdale is a Canadian writer and poet who resides in France. Her books are Little Venus (Tightrope, 2010) and Inheritance (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Poems appear in Cleaver, Literary Mama, Literary Review of Canada, PRISM International and others. In 2014, she received PRISM’s Earle Birney poetry prize. She is currently working on a novel and is Poetry Editor for Global Geneva. Find out more at www.carladrysdale.com. Poem originally appeared in Peacock Journal. All quoted lines taken from contents and text in “The Glaciers of the Alps” by John Tyndall, published in 1896 by Longmans, Green and Co.
PHOTOGRAPHY ©Kristjan Fridriksson
We’d better listen to what the Polar regions tell us
The impact of climate change on the world’s Polar regions can no longer be ignored. As Clare Nullis of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva writes, the problem is not just about melting ice caps. It is about the need to translate science into urgent political action.
THE ARCTIC AND PARTS OF THE ANTARCTIC are warming twice as rapidly as the rest of the world, causing melting of glaciers, shrinking sea ice and snow cover. The impact of this is felt in other parts of the globe – as evidenced most clearly by rising sea levels. For us to ignore such realities places the entire planet in peril. But it doesn’t stop there. Because of teleconnections, the poles influence climate conditions in populated parts of North America, Europe and Asia where hundreds of millions of people live. Warming Arctic air and declining sea ice are believed to affect ocean circulation and the jet stream high up in the atmosphere. There is growing proof that they are potentially linked to extreme weather including – ironically – bitterly cold spells in the northern hemisphere winter.
THE CHANGING FACE OF THE ARCTIC Obviously, the most immediate and dramatic impacts are felt by the people, wildlife and ecosystems in Polar regions. Indigenous communities face threats to their way of life, their homes and their hunting and fishing. Traditional knowledge is no longer reliable for forecasting
weather conditions. An increase in tourism and other activities might potentially bring some economic benefits and open new transport passages as sea ice thaws. But at what price? “What is of most concern is what the thawing permafrost does in terms of infrastructure erosion around the coast, what it does to the settlements, the cultural heritage. It is changing the face of the Arctic,” observes Susan Barr, President of the International Arctic Science Committee. In the town of Longyearbyen in Norway’s Svalbard, the valley sides are becoming unsafe. In 2015 and 2016 there were two serious avalanches. “We have to think about moving the entire older part of town,” said Barr, who has worked for 40 years with Polar cultural heritage. I interviewed Barr, and the heads of three other top Polar research agencies during the Arctic Circle Assembly last October in Reykjavik, Iceland. All were surprised at the speed of change. All, too, voiced concern that science is not being translated into policy. In meteorological terms the Arctic and, in particular, the Antarctic are the world’s most poorly observed regions because of their remoteness. There is an urgent need to improve weather and sea-ice forecasts to ensure the safety of transport, tourism, exploration and scientific activities.
There is a fear that ships seeking to navigate ice-laden polar seas may not be designed to cope with the harsh environment. Less ice does not mean less danger, and help may be thousands of kilometres away. Any oil spills could also be environmentally catastrophic. WMO in Geneva is trying to address these shortcomings, and is working with the Arctic Council and the Antarctic Treaty system to provide them with the best possible information. The Year of Polar Prediction (spread over two years to cover both the Arctic and Antarctic winters and summers) is currently underway with the aim of improving forecasts of weather, climate and ice conditions.
MORE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION And WMO has just initiated Arctic seasonal predictions, using the same model as in other parts of the world. The first ever Pan-Arctic Regional Climate Outlook Forum last May in Canada brought together scientists, indigenous communities and representatives of climate-sensitive sectors like shipping. It will become a regular event, providing up-to-date summer and winter seasonal predictions.
“Climate change really hit home for me when I found out that two little ice caps in the Canadian Arctic I had studied back in 1982 and 1983 as a young graduate student had essentially disappeared.” Surface temperatures are expected to continue to be above average for June, July and August 2018, whilst sea ice is forecast to be below normal for most of the Arctic based on the outlook issued at the Forum meeting. But the Arctic had another warm winter. Temperatures in February briefly rose above the freezing point – remarkable at the height of the Polar winter. As a result, Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average, with record-high thin first-year ice which is more susceptible to melting. Ice cover in the Bering Sea, on the northern edge of the Pacific Ocean was also at a record low at the end of April. “Basically the Bering Sea is ice-free, when normally there would be more than 500,000 square kilometres of ice,” said the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. Its director, Mark Serreze, has spent more than 35 years studying snow and ice and describes the changes in his book “Brave New Arctic.” “Climate change really hit home for me when I found out that two little ice caps in the Canadian Arctic I had studied back in 1982 and 1983 as a young graduate student
The thinning and disappearing sea-ice is making traditional Inuit hunting more dangerous and difficult. ©Kristjan Fridriksson / JONAA
had essentially disappeared,” he wrote in an op-ed on The Conversation website, previewing the book. “I often find myself wondering whether the remains of those two little ice caps will survive another summer. Scientists are trained to be sceptics, but for those of us who study the Arctic, it is clear that a radical transformation is underway. My two ice caps are just a small part of that story. Indeed, the question is no longer whether the Arctic is warming, but how drastically it will change – and what those changes mean for the planet,” wrote Prof. Serreze. Much of the attention is focused on the Arctic, but we should not forget the Antarctic. Spanning 14 million km2 (roughly twice the size of Australia), its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8 km thick and contains most of the planet’s fresh water. Enough to raise sea level by around 60 metres were it all to melt. The Antarctic Peninsula (the northwest tip near to South America) is among the world’s fastest warming regions, almost 3°C over the last 50 years. Some 87 percent of glaciers along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated in the last 50 years and the rate is accelerating. According to Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, the melting of the West Antarctica ice sheet is a major concern. “This ice sheet doesn’t sit only on rock, it sits mostly below sea level. When warm water gets underneath the ice shelf it melts from below,” she told me in an interview during the Arctic Circle Assembly. Modelling suggests there will be critical thresholds, and there will be a point when the West Antarctic ice sheet may melt very slowly and then very fast. “About 5 metres of global sea level rise is captured in that ice sheet. Globally, even a small rise in sea level will impact on all coastlines. All the major cities in the world and the supply chains are on the coast so just a few centimetres of sea level rise will have a major impact,” she said. The realities are there. It is now up to policymakers to respond.
Clare Nullis works with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva.
THE VIEW FROM GREENLAND:
Grappling with contexts
Greenland is a self-governing member of the Realm of the Danish Kingdom. But as the world’s largest island (Australia and the Antarctic are usually considered continental landmasses), Greenland still has unfinished business in implementing self-rule, observes Hans Peder Kirkegaard, editor of Aqago, an online media site. Too many outside Greenland, he argues, are focused on economic relations with Denmark.
JUST A CENTURY AGO, MOST PEOPLE IN GREENLAND lived in peat huts in the winter and sealskin tents in the summer. Today, fewer than 60.000 people live on Greenland’s 2 million square km; most are indigenous, speaking an Eskimo-Aleut tongue that resembles no European languages. Greenland has been on the path to independence since 1953, when Greenlandic politicians were given three days to choose between independence or be absorbed into the Kingdom of Denmark after 139 years as a colony. Denmark changed its constitution and inducted Greenland into the Kingdom of Denmark as counties, thus granting citizenship to the Greenlandic people. In 1979, Greenland was given some autonomy with the “Act of Greenlandic Home Rule.” This was in part driven by Denmark’s membership in the European Federation (EF), now European Union. Greenlanders voted overwhelmingly against the EF in a 1972 referendum.
GREENLAND’S BREXIT: HOME-RULE WITH LIMITATIONS Greenland thus became the only territory to exit the European Union until Brexit. But home rule had its limitations. Certain competencies remained with the Danish Government. Greenland has no property ownership as such. Instead, all is the “common property” of the Greenlandic people. You can obtain a permit for land in perpetuity or within a set of regulations. However, under home rule, it only allowed the permit holder rights to the land on the surface, for example, to build a house. The non-renewable resources below, of great interest to mining companies, were the sole responsibility of Copenhagen. The Greenlandic home rule government had no power to issue permits nor rights to the underground resources. This was one of the driving forces to attaining self-rule. During the 2000s, before the 2007-08 financial crash, prices of non-renewable resources rose dramatically, and exploration in Greenland increased because of it. It was
also at this time that Greenlandic politicians negotiated with the Danish Government to attain self-rule. Three major issues were to be addressed: non-renewable resources, language and a path to independence. Even in 1953, there was some resentment that Greenland was not offered a Free Association or something like it, which is an option under the U.N. ”Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”. Though Greenland achieved self government in 2009 with its capital in Nuuk, the country’s largest town (17,400 people), there is still a reductionist approach towards independence in some circles. When Greenland was finally granted self government together with greater autonomy, this established, in accordance with international law, that the Greenlanders are a recognized people. The Greenlandic language became the official language on the island, while the Nuuk government was given the right to the non-renewable resources underground. Chapter 8 in the Act lays out the path to full independence.
INDEPENDENCE: NOT JUST ABOUT ECONOMIC RELATIONS WITH DENMARK It is in this context that the discussion about independence is carried out in Greenland. When non-Greenlanders debate the territory’s independence, it is often reduced
Ilulissat, Greenland © Jennifer Latuperisa-Andresen
to the economic relationship with Denmark. They seem to ignore or are ignorant of the historical, political, and cultural context of the relationship between Greenland and Denmark. This reductionist approach is often more damaging than fruitful to the Greenland debate. People assume that advocates of independence are not aware — or are ignorant — of the economic challenges. The debate is treated as being about economics and the monetary block grant Greenland receives from Denmark each year, covering about one-third of all public finances. The issues are much more complicated than the reductionists give Greenlanders credit for. I see two aspects to independence: One is institution-building in a former colony; the other is liberation of the mind.
WHAT IS A NATION? The first is accomplished through education and participation in democracy. The second requires self-reflection, deep thought and understanding by everyone individually. This means a discussion about “who are the Greenlandic people? What is the moral foundation of Greenland? What is a nation?” Foreign institutions, both formal and informal, which govern a nation, erode, replace and overturn a colony’s original historic institutions. Globalization has opened up the same debate about many shopping streets of Europe,
where the multinational stores and fast-food restaurants of Paris, Stuttgart and Copenhagen are barely distinguishable. In Greenland, the personal challenge as we move forward towards independence is about letting go of past wrongs without allowing prejudices to determine one’s own self-worth and self-respect. However, one problem we face is philosophical. As a Greenlander, I have found our language lacking in words that describe the complexities of the human condition and the relation to freedom. The idea of Greenlandic independence is expressed with two words, “Namminiilivinneq” and “Naalagaaffinngorneq”. The first means “To truly be self-determinant” and the second “To become a state”. Sometimes “Kiffaanngissuseq” is thrown into the debate. It literally means “not to be a servant”. In the years leading up to the Self-Government Act, there was an air of discontent and desire for “Namminersorneq”, the Greenlandic word for Self-Government. The literal translation is “to be self-determinant”. (Notice the difference from “to truly be self-determinant”). So I prefer “Iperangaassuseq”. It literally means: “to release”. The word encompasses the act of releasing bitterness, hate and pain, so as to be free of them. It means to forgive, and let go of the burden of anger. In other words, this is what it means to be free.
Hans Peder Kirkegaard is the editor of Aqago, an online media site.
FROM THE FIELD
THE THIRD POLE:
Letter from (a critical observer in) the Himalayas The Himalayas are often regarded as the ‘Third Pole’ given that its massive snow and ice surfaces serve as the most important water resource for the entire subcontinent. But as Julien Bettler writes, it is also a high disaster zone that needs to embrace more longer-term risk reduction strategies in the event of earthquakes, landslides and floods. KUSUM GURUNG’S LIFE TOOK A TRAGIC TURN in April 2015. An earthquake destroyed most of her village’s houses along with all their meagre property. It also took the lives of friends and family members. Little if anything had been done in Nepal to prepare for such disaster despite repeated warnings from seismologists. When I travelled up to the remote farming communities in Rasuwa district of Nepal a year later, I visited a women’s economic empowerment project run by Norlha - Helping people in the Himalayas, an NGO that I had originally helped set up. A crucial component was that it also taught them basic literacy and numeracy. Yet its impact was far deeper than simply training women in commerce. It changed their husbands’ behaviour. Furthermore, as Gurung told me, it altered the way local people looked at her. “Now that I can read and write my name, neighbours treat me like a real person,” she said as I stared, baffled. Today, more than three years after the devastating earthquake, only 21.3 per cent of destroyed houses have been reconstructed. So where does Nepal stand today with regard to much-heralded aid programmes seeking to rebuild houses, lives and create a dignified future?
MORE THAN JUST CHANGE: THE NEED FOR A COMPLETE MENTAL SHIFT Nepal has to build far stronger infrastructures and resilient communities able to cope with earthquakes, landslides and floods. But disaster preparedness takes more than plans and reinforced concrete. Beyond the gigantic endeavour of improving physical assets such as safer homes, the greater challenge is to ensure good governance and, above all, accountability from the authorities towards left-behind communities. This is major a problem for a young democracy where corruption and nepotism are rampant, and transparency still seems to be pointedly absent from the political
culture. There has to be a complete mental shift. This is where the highest leverage for genuine transformation lies. Without such solid foundations, little sustainable will ever take place. Why were the seismologists’ calls to caution ignored? All too often, fatalistic beliefs are among the factors that prevent proper disaster preparedness measures from being implemented. In addition, there are no immediate benefits visible. So incentive is limited. According to Dor B. Bista, a revered Nepali anthropologist, the prevalent religious faith does not “encourage planning for the future.” Projecting one’s actions to see their implications are at odds with the deeper cultural roots of fatalism. Accountability is widely absent from this country’s political culture. Its absence is perhaps one of the most deeply embedded causes of long-standing concerns facing the country and its attempts to promote genuine development and social justice. So how do ideas of resilience or even basic development fit in a societal model that is proudly tied to cultural beliefs going back 3,500 years where roles are fixed at birth? “If the course of events is already determined then it makes little sense to attempt to independently influence their outcome,” Bista writes. Change is looked upon with suspicion, and sometimes as a foreign concept; at least by the ruling class and caste who benefit from social, political, and ethnic domination. The younger, better educated generation seems to distance itself from this approach, though in very subtle ways. Yet their roots and social environment remain strongly caught up with fatalism. In a country where well over one quarter of the population lives under the poverty line, how does one ensure that development and progress become - or even remain - sustainable for the benefit of the entire South Asia and Central Asia regions? Working as a development professional, I frequently ask myself: “Who sincerely wants development to take place?” i.e. who wants change? Everybody likes money,
but genuine development is more than economic growth alone. It is easy to draw up a list: Making children safe, growing strong and happy; giving equal rights to women as well as disadvantaged groups; creating a sustainable environment and more resilient communities; i.e. being ready for the next disaster. Virtually all scientists agree that another earthquake will come, possibly stronger than the previous one. Ultimately, genuinely conceived foreign aid should serve as a vector for change. But it should not be perceived as an infusion to keep alive a moribund system that preserves privileges and avoids the ruling elite being held accountable.
water-related issues cannot be overstated. Tensions over access and rights started erupting decades ago. As a result, water-sharing diplomacy closely linked to peace and development is appearing more and more on the agenda, not just in the Himalayas but in the rest of Asia and beyond. Second, overall development in the Himalayas is strongly affecting climate change given its massive snow surfaces. What climatologists call ‘black carbon’ particulates are formed through the incomplete combustion of fuel from gasoline or diesel-run engines, biomass burning and bio-fuel. When deposited on snow, black carbon
The Himalayas - the planet’s ‘Third Pole’ © Julien Bettler
WATER, TRADE & TOURISM The Himalayas are also a key future asset for the rest of the world. This is highlighted in two distinct yet intertwined ways; and both are closely related to water. For one, culturally. I love exploring Kathmandu’s temples. Some inner courtyards host magnificent pieces of architecture. The signs of the importance of water are everywhere. On nearly every single historical monument, a snake (naga) is depicted, usually as an ornamental element. Most of the city’s wells or public fountains (hiti) have a serpent spouting water. The presence of water at the heart of the Himalayas is the single unique trait that has allowed this city not only to thrive, but play such an important role in the region’s commerce. Dating back to the third century AD, trade is just as much part of the overall fabric as is tourism today, one of the country’s leading economic sectors. As the world’s Third Pole, the Himalayas contain the largest reserve of fresh water (mainly in the form of snow) outside the polar regions. Water from the Himalayan water tower feeds 11 countries. Six of Asia’s major river and 46 per cent of the world’s population depend upon rivers originating in Tibet alone. So the region’s
absorbs sunlight, generates heat, thus accelerating the melting of nearby glaciers. The carbon and pollution emitted in cities and communities close to the Himalayan glaciers are having a disproportionate impact on climate change. And yes, the Third Pole also is melting. Fast. Here again, local actions are directly linked to global impact. The good news is that solutions exist, such as the sustainable livelihood projects for remote farming communities that Norlha helped pilot. As a result, the quality of life of Kusum’s community has increased substantially. It is now far more resilient, and women are finding themselves significantly more respected. Their husbands have started reflecting on their role as males, such as through more concrete gestures in public life vis a vis women as well as at home with household chores. Our experience shows that solutions can be implemented if people, particularly locally-rooted civil society, play a fuller role in holding the authorities accountable. But this will only work if ordinary citizens are given a voice.
Julien Bettler is currently country representative for the Swiss child relief agency, Terre des Hommes. A development professional dedicated to Himalayan issues and communities, he previously ran the Lausanne-based NGO, Norlha.
FROM THE FIELD
Lions in Conflict
In recent months a number of lion stories hit the news. Writing from southwest Africa, contributing editor Keith Somerville examines the growing problem of lions versus human beings resulting in loss of territory, livestock predation and revenge attacks.
ÂŠ Prince David
MOST OF THESE REPORTS INVOLVED LIONS IN SMALL safari parks in South Africa attacking people. One concerned a young woman killed by a lion that had been habituated to the so-called “lion whisperer”, Kevin Richardson, at the Dinokeng Game Reserve, near Pretoria. Another was the mauling of British lion park owner Michael Hodge at his predator centre in Limpopo province, after which the lion responsible was shot. These stories are all about captive lions but attract great media attention through a combination of horror at the attack and subsequent calls for the lions involved not to be shot. Few shed any real light on the situation of these Big Cats and the very real and continuous conflict between wild lions and communities in African lion range states. Three years ago, the killing of an old male animal by a trophy hunter – the Cecil the Lion Affair – did put an international focus on the issues around wild lions, but chiefly concentrated on eliciting emotive responses attacking the trophy hunting business, without any serious examination of whether or not it has any role in wildlife conservation.
THE REALITY OF HUMAN-LION CONFLICT More serious are incidents of lion-human conflict with long-term consequences for both the survival of wild lions and the safety and livelihoods of people in areas of rural Africa where wild lions still live outside protected national parks or reserves. In mid-April 2018, 11 lions were poisoned by villagers at Hamkungu, in Uganda, near the Queen Elizabeth National Park. This was reported in the Uganda press and some conservation-related media, but did not hit the global headlines outside the UK’s Guardian (with a preliminary story but no follow-up), despite the large number of Big Cats killed. Regular incidents like this shed light on the threats to lions and people and the true nature of human-lion conflict, but this rarely gets international media attention to the issues. National Geographic, for example, highlighted the lions’ unusual tree-climbing activities as a tourism attraction and said “humans encroach on their available habitat”. Not much attention is given to the other side of the lion vs human conflict – the killing, often on a large scale, of cattle and goats by wild lions. On 14th November 2017, 171 goats and donkeys were killed in one incident by a pride of lions at Etendeka Klipriver in Namibia’s arid Kunene region in the north-west. A week before, 86 livestock were killed by the same pride at Awantapos in the Torra Conservancy nearby. The lions in the community conservancies and protected areas of Kunene and Damaraland in Namibia live alongside pastoralists in a very delicate and easily-upset balance. Lion predation on livestock can trigger what appear to be revenge killings that threaten the survival of the lion population there.
IMPOVERISHMENT AND CONFLICT MITIGATION Despite the extent of the killings of livestock and the impoverishment of the pastoralist families involved, little attention is given to these events beyond the Namibian
media and the websites of desert lion conservationists and researchers in Namibia. But it is a serious issue and one that will directly affect the survival of Namibia’s population of desert-adapted lions. The conflict problems are not limited to Namibia and Uganda, but occur across lion range states in Africa where they have habitat outside or bordering protect areas. In these districts, lions live side-by-side with long established pastoral communities dependent on raising cattle, goats and sheep, and using donkeys as beasts of burden. Livestock owners, many of them small-scale farmers without the funds to invest in employing cattle herders or building strong enclosures to protect the cattle at night, coexist with lions, hyenas, leopards and cheetahs in an uneasy relationship that can easily slip from hostile suspicion into warfare. Cattle graze freely over vast areas during the day, when they are vulnerable to attack, more often by cheetah on goats or other small stock. But at night vulnerability multiplies, with, lions, hyenas and leopards the main threat. In the past, extended pastoralist families often had herders available in the form of young men and boys who would tend the cattle during the day and bring them into enclosures at night. This provided protection and the deterrent effect of people near the cattle. It did not prevent predation but kept it within bounds and therefore limit the level of killings of suspected stock raiders. But as young people, especially in countries such as Namibia and Botswana where education has improved hugely in its reach over recent decades, seek work in towns using their new qualifications, the pool of cattle herders shrinks and families no longer have young men available to tend animals. The small-scale farmers cannot afford to employ cattle herders from outside the family. This means that livestock may be untended during the day and not brought into secure enclosures at night. The result has been conflict with predators, as lions and other carnivores seize the opportunity of an easy meal by preying on unprotected, free-roaming or poorly enclosed animals.
POISONING LIONS BUT ALSO – INADVERTENTLY – OTHER WILDLIFE The inevitable result is that local herders suffering huge losses kill actual or suspected livestock raiders. They may be shot, but often are poisoned. This targets predators returning to carcasses of animals they had previously killed. But such poison-baiting also annihilates any predator that scavenges from the carcass, such as innocent lions, hyenas, jackals and vultures. Agricultural chemicals (pesticides and weed-killers) are freely available to farmers and can be lethal to wildlife when dead livestock are laced with them. The killing of lions and other wildlife in this fashion is a serious conservation issue but may also have an economic effect more serious than the original loss of livestock. Lamenting the poisoning of the 11 lions that had strayed from Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, Bashir Hangi, the communications head for the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), said: “It is a sad day for us as
FROM THE FIELD | LIONS IN CONFLICT
an institution and we regret that we lost 11 lions at Queen Elizabeth National Park…As a country we are benefiting mostly from nature tourism, so when someone comes and kills 11 lions, that person is an enemy of the country.” He said the UWA and police would try to catch the “criminals” who had carried out the act. Tourism earnings are vital to many countries and lions are a major attraction for dollarbearing safari-goers from abroad.
PROSECUTING LION-KILLERS: MAYBE NOT THE BEST OPTION FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION The commitment to prosecuting lion-killers is all well and good, but eradicating lions in this fashion is not something carried out like ivory poaching, for gain. It is a response to often devastating economic loss for communities and to prevent further killings. Prosecution of herders responsible for killing to protect livestock or avenge a loss criminalizes local people without providing any long-term solution. If lions are to survive other than as increasingly isolated populations inside protected areas, they must be
© Megan Collins
allowed to roam, as thousands do, outside protected areas and to coexist, as they have done for millennia, with local pastoralist communities. This, rather than prosecution of poor farmers or ever greater fencing in (or out) of wildlife, must be the answer if both local communities and wildlife are not to suffer. The eminent mammal and carnivore specialist, Dr David Macdonald of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford, whose unit oversees the Hwange lion research project which collared Cecil the Lion, told me the key to the future of a viable lion population in Africa was the maintenance of the “lion estate”. This is the area over which lions can move and has to include areas outside national parks and reserves.
Currently there are somewhere between 20,000 and a possible maximum of 35,000 wild lions in Africa. The most likely figure is around 24,000, believes Amy Dickman, who directs the Ruaha Carnivore Project in Tanzania. Many of these lions live wholly or partly outside reserves and are vulnerable to human hostility but also represent a threat to livestock.
EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS COUPLED WITH SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY PROJECTS If lion numbers are to be maintained or increased to avert the threat of extinction – most seriously in West Africa where fewer than 500 may survive in isolated population groups – then a variety of measures need to be adopted to enable more peaceful coexistence. First and foremost are ways of getting local communities to accept the presence of lions by providing incentives for them not to kill lions. This can be in the form of working with local communities to provide early warning systems to deter lion attacks, assisting with the provision of lion-proof fencing but also channelling funds (usually from NGO, business or private donors) into community projects such as health centres, veterinary care for livestock and educational scholarships. In Namibia, Tammy Hoth-Hanssen of the NGO AfricatNorth, is heavily involved in similar programmes, especially warning systems and providing materials for building night-time enclosures that can resist lions and other predators. When I was in northern Namibia recently, she told me that these had helped reduce hostility to lions but a lot of work was still to be done in convincing people to enclose their livestock at night and to see lions as something other than vermin. The Ruaha project, Africat and similar schemes in Laikipia (Kenya) and Hwange (Zimbabwe) also fund the employment of lion guardians recruited from local communities to monitor lions, drive them away from livestock or warn livestock owners of lions in the area. The Botswana Predator Conservation Trust does similar work, but as one of their researchers, Cameron Radford, told me when I visited the region in May, they are also trying out techniques using audio deterrence, consisting of lion-triggered speakers broadcasting the roaring of dominant lions from the area to scare off young males, and also painting eyes on the rear end of cows to make lions think they have been seen. These latter projects are in an early stage and may or may not have the desired effect. One conservationist to whom I spoke in northern Botswana was sceptical that they have anything but a marginal effect in reducing lion predation on stock.
© Geran De Klerk
In some areas, predation is so serious that local farmers give up keeping stock. This is the case in areas around Sankuyo, near the Okavango Delta protected areas in Botswana. Chief Timex Moalosi of Sankuyo told me his village has a major problem with lions from the Delta coming into their land. They kill stock on a regular basis and many villagers have given up keeping cattle and goats as a result. The chief said there had been a long-term issue with lions but until the ban on sport and commercial hunting in 2014, the lion predation had been limited. Although lions had not been shot for sport since 2007, he said the presence of professional hunters and lions on the community’s land had kept the lions at a safer distance from the village. But he felt that the hunting ban had damaged the village’s economic prospects.
THE HUNTING BAN: A LOSS OF INCOME FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES One serious negative effect of the hunting ban was the loss of the income from hunters who pay to use community land. Chief Moalosi told me that in a good year, like 2010, the village could earn $600,000 from the quota of 120 game animals shot by hunters. This was direct income and helped persuade reluctant villagers to tolerate lions and the occasional loss of livestock. With hunting banned, income had been lost and lions were no longer deterred by the presence of hunters. Trophy and commercial hunting is a thorny issue ‒ and much debated after the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. Many local farmers and their village leaders believe that trophy hunting brought in income and helped persuade people that lions were valuable. Both David
Macdonald of WildCRU and Amy Dickman of the Ruaha project, along with researchers and conservationists to whom I spoke in Botswana and Namibia, are not enthusiastic supporters of hunting and in many cases do not like it at all. But they see also that in unprotected areas with wildlife populations, if you don’t have the income from hunting and the maintenance of wildlife habitat that results, land will “go under the plough or cow” and be lost to wildlife for all time, I was told by one conservationist who preferred not to be named. In Namibia, community conservancies are trying to mitigate human-lion problems through radio collaring of lions, regulated trophy-hunting to bring in income for local people and, where possible, high-cost safari tourism to generate more earnings and give wildlife a tangible value. Human-lion conflict is a major problem for predator-conservation projects and for livestock farmers. There is not one solution but several cocktails of solutions that must vary from area to area. The one key component in every area, though, is getting local people to tolerate lions, either through livestock protection programmes, direct payments for involvement and empowerment in the implementation of wildlife projects.
Professor Keith Somerville teaches at the Centre for Journalism and is a member of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent. He is also a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and a research associate at the Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non-Human Sphere at King’s College, London. His book on human lion coexistence and conflict will be published in 2019. 27
FROM THE FIELD
Revisiting life after genocide Norwegian photographer Kristian Skeie’s pictures first appeared in Global Geneva’s inaugural edition in November 2016. Written by Vicken Chiterian, the article focused on life after genocide for Iraq’s persecuted minority, the Yazidis. In this report, Skeie again explores the aftermath of genocide with regard to Srebrenica in Bosnia, more than two decades after the infamous massacre in July, 1995, in which more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces. In this profile, the normally Swiss-based photographer, who continues to focus on Iraq and Rwanda, explained why he decided to do this project.
A woman cries and prays over the coffin containing the remains of a loved one who has been identified and was buried at the Potočari Memorial on 11 July 2017. Some 70 other victims were buried the same day, 22 years after the genocide. © Kristian Skeie
FOR 43-YEAR-OLD KRISTIAN SKEIE, “Life After Genocide” is a general headline that he has been using for the past eight years. It first started with a visit to Srebrenica together with a group of Webster University students from Geneva. “It was a rather short visit, but we met with survivors in addition to going to the memorial site in Potočari just outside of Srebrenica. Potočari is an old factory where the Dutch UN forces had their HQ during the war. Having met so many people who survived, I found myself with far more questions than answers. I knew I had to visit again. I did, so ended up returning many times during the following years.” Skeie has now moved to Sarajevo not only to work more closely around this topic, but to focus more on the future of Bosnia and the Balkans as a whole. Both personally and as a photographer, he notes that the whole issue of “never forget” has affected him profoundly. For seven decades, as the New York Times recently pointed out, this has been the rallying cry for the remembrance movement of the Nazi-instigated World War II Holocaust. “Remembering and being aware of the past is vital,” Skeie maintains. “Yet humanity continues to repeat itself. We must learn from and remember the disastrous faults of our ancestors. Only this way can we do better for future generations.” Perceptions, however, can easily be perverted. Recently, he further points out, it was reported that 31 percent of Americans thought that two million Jews (instead of six million) had been killed during the Holocaust. Half of all Americans in the U.S. also thought that Hitler gained power through force rather than political maneuvering and the usurping of the democratic process. History, he adds, is important. “So, as journalists or photographers, we constantly have an obligation to follow up and report.” During the Srebrenica massacre, more than 8,000 men and boys were killed in one week. In Rwanda, barely one year before, more than 800,000 people were killed over 100 days. “The numbers are high; my work has been about getting to know some of the people who experienced this,” he explains. FROM TOP TO BOTTOM Ramiz Nukic walks through the hill above his house, in the village of Kamenice, around 30 minutes drive from Srebrenica. He is a farmer who has found the remains of nearly 250 people who were murdered during the Genocide in Srebrenica. A shoe of a murdered man found by Ramix Nukic during one of his searches in Kamenice People are praying after having walked one of the days of the Mars Mira peace march. All photographs © Kristian Skeie
FROM THE FIELD | BOSNIA:-HERZEGOVINA: REVISITING LIFE AFTER GENOCIDE
A man is praying and crying next to the grave of a family member at the Potoča ri Memorial cemetery. © Kristian Skeie
“EVERY YEAR, THERE IS A PEACE MARCH lasting three days and covering 120 km between Tuzla and Potočari. It follows the same route taken by the men, boys and some women who tried to escape after Srebrenica fell on 11 July 1995 to Ratko Mladić. (The former Bosnian Serb general was sentenced on 22 November, 2017 to life imprisonment for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague). Only this time (July 2018), the march goes in the opposite direction. On arrival, there is a memorial service to bury all those newly identified remains of victims. More than 1,000 bodies remain to be buried properly. Others have yet to be discovered.” - Kristian Skeie
As a photographer, Skeie believes that it is easier to understand, to remember and to learn once you talk and listen to those involved, beyond the statistics. “This can only happen during longer-term projects. Most of the people I photograph become friends or people I continue to stay in touch with.”
PHOTOGRAPHY AND LANGUAGE Skeie considers image-making to be another language. If used well, it means you are communicating with the people you work with. “I never hide the fact that I am a photographer. I use only moderately wide lenses with little or no distortion. The important thing is to stay close and to show respect. It’s always a collaborative exercise between the photographer and the people being photographed.” Furthermore, Skeie considers himself fortunate, if not privileged, to meet so many who show strength by picking up the pieces of what is left after having lived through awful times in war and genocide. “So my photography, perhaps, is giving something in return,” he says.
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Saving the SDGs – as well as the world – and it may be the way to go The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, face serious challenges over funding if they are to achieve their objectives by 2030. America’s editor William Dowell writes that a Swiss-backed initiative, Project 1800, could not only solve many of the SDG’s financial difficulties but also dramatically improve the funding equation for other development projects. The new concept shifts the focus to people and mobilizes multiple sources of capital for social ends.
“THERE IS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH CAPITAL IN THE CURRENT PARADIGM. WE NEED TO REFRAME CAPITALISM,” observes Arthur Wood, the Geneva-based international development consultant who convened Project 1800. The Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) recently underwrote this unusual initiative in the hopes that it just might provide the answer to financing and achieving the United Nation’s much-touted Sustainable Development Goals. The five-month study takes its name from the fact that an estimated 1,800 children under the age of five die each day from a lack of clean drinking water. The project uses the Senegal River basin as a test case for clean water management, but its implications go much further. WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) ranks as the second most pressing SDG, surpassed only by climate change. Roughly 3.4 billion people are currently believed not have to access to clean water today. By 2030, the deadline for the SDGS to be reached, clean water access will be problematic for at least 40 per cent of the world’s population, a reality already costing $300 - $600 billion a year. Meeting SDG-6’s (6.1 and 6.2) overall requirements is estimated at $1.7 trillion. As matters stand, the global foundations and international institutions created at Bretton Woods can barely provide $300 billion a year in financing over the next 12 years. That means that the SDG targets for water and sanitation are unlikely to be met. The estimated annual shortfall for achieving all 17 SDGs is put at $2.5 trillion.
LESS FUNDING FOR THE SDGS UNLESS… Financing the SDGs became even more stressful after waves of Third World immigrants crowded into Europe, exhausting humanitarian budgets that might otherwise have gone towards development. A more recent concern is that the world’s financial markets, which are now at their highest level since 1900, are overdue for a correction. If and when that happens, there could be even less funding for the SDGs. Arthur Wood, who was hired through Strategos, a boutique consulting outfit, believes that the current approach to financing the SDGs is fatally flawed and ultimately doomed, unless the entire system is radically reconfigured. Without private investment, Wood insists, the SDGs are essentially non-starters.
A RADICALLY DIFFERENT MULTI-STAKEHOLDER MODEL Wood and the 19 experts from different organizations, such as the UN and civil society, but also former regulators, technology and metrics specialists, spent more than five months developing Project 1800. What they recommend is nothing less than a new financial approach. This means a radically new multi-stakeholder model for dealing with basic water problems. The Senegal River Basin, which is shared by four countries ‒ Senegal, Mali, Guinea and
Clean water is crucial but needs to be part of basic, long-term development investment. © United Nations
Mauritania ‒ served as a concrete example to realistically anchor the project. The principles developed, however, could be applied to most development initiatives. “The issues we are dealing with,” Wood says, “are systemic issues.” The critical element missing from the current approach, he believes, is an accurate assessment of the social cost of failing to meet the SDGs. “Government planning needs to look at the Social Progress Index as well as GNP.” In the Project 1800 model, each dollar invested tracks improvement of all the externalities (In this case, “externalities” refers to the indirect costs incurred if the project were not undertaken). By including the savings from damage averted by the project along with the benefits attained, a proposal that might initially have seemed prohibitively expensive suddenly becomes far more affordable. As Guy Hutton, Senior Adviser at UNICEF and contributor to the 1800 Project, explains: “Once you quantify the range of social, health and economic benefits from improved WASH, the returns outweigh the costs at least five times.” This encourages policymakers and donors to see investment as a condition, and not just a result, of economic development. Even better, once a specific social benefit from a project can be quantified, it may even be possible to market a “blue equity”. In the Senegal River Basin, for example, clean water and a healthy population makes it more attractive for businesses to invest in the region, since the returns from their activities will be higher. This also justifies asking them to put cash into development through a token or share the authorities can create and sell. This is essentially a socially-oriented, outcome-based security that can be bought and sold on the open market. A standard equity security (known as an “Exchange Traded Fund”) would have a value based on both the aggregated economic return of the participants and the economic value of reducing all the future externalities.
IMPACT INVESTMENT PLUS: A NEW APPROACH TO ACCESSING PRIVATE CAPITAL WORTH $218 TRILLION Traditionally, only owners and direct investors were concerned about a project’s outcome. The Project 1800 approach makes it possible ‒ in principle ‒ for financing to tap into a much larger source of funds, notably the estimated $218 trillion of private capital available across global financial markets. “Basically, you are creating a mechanism,” Wood explains, “that allows you to monetize the problem.” The new approach draws on what is commonly known to economists as “impact investment”. As the 1800 Project envisions, this consists of “mobilizing multiple sources of capital to serve social needs”. Wood points out that global foundations are currently sitting on more than a trillion dollars in endowments not being used for social purposes. “What we are advocating,” Woods says, “is ‘change management’ in handling that capital and aligning it with classic capital markets.” This offers collaborative framework at a much lower cost to all players with the interest of the community at the centre. What Project 1800 also envisions is a systematic, rather than a fragmented, development approach which is “not another siloed intermediary but ‘plumbing’ that can be applied to any social issue and used by any player.”
SYSTEMIC CHANGE: WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS NO INVESTMENT? But the real goal is to look at social development as a financial concept. “It shifts incentives [for investors or donors] from a reward for giving, in which the final outcome is often ignored, to the externalities and the value of collaboration and scale, in which the incentive is
INTERNATIONAL GENEVA | SAVING THE SDGS – AS WELL AS THE WORLD – AND IT MAY BE THE WAY TO GO
to the consumer or in development speak from bilateral programmatic solutions to multi-partner collaborative solutions.” Incorporating private investors into the mix is hardly new. What makes Project 1800 different is its emphasis on developing a overall project framework that can be adapted – and, above all, applied ‒ to vastly different scenarios. The goal is to shift the development model from one that incentivizes competition among different countries, agencies and philanthropies to one based on collaboration and economic value.
ROPING IN ALL PLAYERS FROM GOVERNMENTS TO PRIVATE INVESTORS
Involving local populations is just as crucial as investment. © Mike DuBose
determined by the social benefit produced,” Wood underlines. “Essentially it favours a systemic change rather than focusing on the products produced. It does this by taking into account the economic cost of the damage if no investment is made.” It may sound like an old approach to conservationists. They’ve been practicing multi-stakeholder principles and ecosystem approaches to human development problems for decades. But one major benefit of Wood’s approach is that it brings management vocabulary to bear on development jargon ‒ which private investors have a hard time understanding. As Wood points out, investment banks have employed a similar approach, but with a “client” rather than a “product” focus. Previous development efforts have tended to treat water problems piecemeal as a fragmented market in which incentives were misaligned. Project 1800 aims at a broader network approach. It also plans to introduce the latest financial and communications technology, while finally standardizing the whole procedure. This includes hard wiring the interest of the local communities, social entrepreneurs and social stakeholders in the process. “You don’t have to build everything yourself,” Wood observes. A far better approach is to create a general model that can be customized. Overall, this means applying a principle that investment banks have followed for a long time. Borrowing management speak, Wood sums up: “What we now doing is shifting the focus from the product
To achieve this, Project 1800 proposes creating an umbrella organization. According to Project 1800 team member Bill Kelly, a retired partner of Latham & Watkins and a director of Ashoka: “Under the aegis of this umbrella organization, geographical funds led by significant players could use established legal forms to raise capital in forms that appeal to multiple classes of investors.” Marc Owens, former head of charities regulation for the US Internal Revenue Service and now a lawyer with Loeb & Loeb, LLP, points out that groups in the US have been exploring precisely this. Variations on existing legal forms, he says, such as the limited liability company, can provide structures that could facilitate social investment. These could offer participatory tranches of a project designed to produce tailored investment returns. Europe, for example, has pioneered and continues to innovate socially-focused enterprises, from the huge Mondragon worker-owned cooperative in Spain’s Basque region to new business entities, that invest part of their returns into social projects as part of their legal structure. Project 1800’s legal frame is an adaption of global partnership law to social purpose — as it already does in the corporate sector. This allows for multiple players to retain their own legal frames but aligning their interests and incentives. When married to an equity structure this allows different economic social returns to multiple stakeholders. The goal is to emphasize a win-win collaboration among all concerned. This ‘umbrella’ approach would use standardized modules that can be put together on a “plug-and-play” basis. This would not only dramatically speed up the development process, but would make future programmes more credible to investors. It would also eliminate the enormous costs that go into establishing feasibility studies for each new project, essentially reinventing the wheel. As Wood sees it, Project 1800 just might save the day. “It moves an impossible target,” he says. “It completely changes the paradigm by changing the problem into a tradeable market opportunity.”
Journalist and author William Dowell is Global Geneva’s America’s editor based in Philadelphia. He has reported widely across the globe on issues ranging from humanitarian response and development to wars, human rights and environment.
© Geneva Airport Authority
GENEVA AIRPORT: The challenges – and problems – facing International Geneva’s aerial gateway Switzerland’s second largest airport with over 17.3 million passengers in 2017, Geneva (GVA), or Cointrin as it is still unofficially known, is crucial not only to International Geneva, but the region, including neighbouring France, even Italy. From the passengers’ point of view, it must be one of the world’s easiest airports. Most European tourists heading for the Valais, Mont Blanc or Haute Savoie ski areas, fly into GVA before shuttling off to resorts such as Verbier, Chamonix and the Portes du Soleil. Many French and Italians also use Geneva as their main airlines portal. Meeting with Geneva airport director André Schneider, journalist Luisa Ballin explores the critical challenges – and problems, including noise and environmental pollution — facing GVA if it is to grow according to plan and needs. KEEPING TRAFFIC MOVING IS A CRITICAL CHALLENGE both for Geneva and its airport. But for André Schneider, who has been running Geneva airport as its CEO since 2016, these are no mysteries. He knows he faces formidable issues, ranging from traffic congestion to lack of runway space that face this former grass field ‘aerodrome’. Seeking to attract 25 million passengers by 2030 (Zurich has clocked up 27 million and is aiming for 50 million at the end of the same period), these are problems that will require a combination of greater efficiency, infrastructure investment and, above all, imagination. One of the 20 oldest airports in the world, GVA was founded in 1920, when the City of Calvin barely had a population of 120,000, some one-third of today’s. Geneva airport is conveniently situated on the edge of town with nearby residential areas, hotels and offices, but with quick access to the centre. It is less than 10 minutes bus ride to the United Nations, seven minutes by train to Cornavin, Geneva’s main railway station, and almost walking distance to the French frontier town of Ferney-Voltaire (don’t worry, you can take a bus). CERN, the international centre of particle physics research, 4.5 km from the airport, has its own shuttle buses, while many travelers even bike to the airport. It means you can whisk off to London or Brussels and back for the day, and then pedal home in the evening. “This is one of the advantages of being so near the centre of town,” explains Schneider. “But this also means that for
an increasing number of people living near an airport, it is an industrial platform that creates noise.”
AIRPORT EXPANSION: THE NEED TO FIND AN ACCEPTABLE EQUILIBRIUM Ensuring the smooth-functioning of the airport is an essential component of local and federal efforts to develop “International Geneva” into a global hub for key interests ranging from humanitarian aid and sustainable development goals to world trade, climate change and scientific innovation. But as Schneider points out, it is hardly an easy task, particularly if you are seeking to find an acceptable equilibrium between performance and respect for the environment. Last year alone, the airport welcomed over 4,700 heads of state, ministers and other high-profile personalities. Many come for international conferences or discreet meetings, business, pleasure ‒ or health reasons, given Lake Geneva region’s high number of specialized clinics and medical centres. According to sources, even dignitaries such as Vladimir Putin of Russia or the King of Saudi Arabia, quietly fly into Geneva before heading off to their Swiss lakeside villas or Alpine chalets. At one point, royal Saudi visits to Geneva accounted for well over two per cent of the city’s tourism income in the form of hotel nights, car rentals, night clubs and restaurants. As we have come to expect from Switzerland, however, Geneva
INTERNATIONAL GENEVA | GENEVA AIRPORT: THE CHALLENGES – AND PROBLEMS – FACING INTERNATIONAL GENEVA’S AERIAL GATEWAY
airport remains tactful about its visitors. For Geneva’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over two-thirds of companies, many of them international, such as Caterpillar, DuPont and Procter & Gamble, consider Geneva Airport as crucial to their economic and social development. The same goes for many International Geneva employees, Genevans themselves and numerous other regional inhabitants, such as those living on the French side of the border. Many use the airport to reach over 100 destinations around the world from Beijing and Montreal to Reykjavik, Bristol and Doha.
IMPROVED PUBLIC TRANSPORT: A WAY OF DEALING WITH INCREASED ROAD CONGESTION So how is Geneva airport seeking to overcome its traffic problems? “We work in close collaboration with the Canton (of Geneva), the Swiss Confederation and Swiss Rail, because we are fortunate enough to have a main railway station right here at the airport,” explains Schneider. To a point, it also collaborates with local communes on the French side, but as several sources point out, France’s Rhone-Alpes region needs to become far more engaged, as does Paris. Another issue is rush-hour congestion along the main highway running parallel to the airport with access to Lausanne and the rest of Switzerland, or France and the southern side of Geneva. Given the immediate proximity of the Palexpo halls, Geneva’s main trade fair facility, there
“Geneva profits from an extremely positive economic climate, but local infrastructure needs to adapt to such development and to take into account the nature of construction that is required.” are often major traffic jams, particularly during events such as the Geneva Motor Show. “We support the canton as much as possible in trying to resolve these problems. We also encourage our employees to use public transport. If we are to continue expanding, we cannot have more and more vehicles accessing our platform.” Geneva Airport itself financially supports the public transport option. “We offer a free Geneva Public Transport (TPG) ticket to all arriving passengers and we organize night buses. Because even if the airport suspends all flights from midnight to six in the morning, it remains active 24 hours a day. Many of our employees have to come to work at times when there is no public transport. Our night buses are geared to their needs and we also intend make these available to passengers,” Schneider observes. But even if Geneva Airport helps subsidize costs, it is imperative that both the Canton and the Swiss government in Berne do their part. “As part of our industrial platform, we represent 15 per cent of traffic, so we contribute toward mobility access in the surrounding areas. Whenever we become aware of development projects in the region, we
are concerned. It is essential that we find an acceptable equilibrium with regard to public transport mobility as well as road access. We are committed to the Aeronautical Infrastructure Sectoral Plan (PSIA) which aims to increase from 47 per cent to 58 per cent the number of passengers arriving on public transport,” Schneider says. One question, however, is whether Geneva Airport can really take on 25 million passengers by 2030 as planned. “This is actually part of a government projection in Berne,” Schneider points out. “The PSIA indicates that we should be able to satisfy our concession, by ensuring requirements with 200 million aircraft movements, he adds. “With an increase of three per cent per year, we should be able to accommodate the needs of the region, which include both international Geneva and local requirements.” Schneider shares the concerns of certain city councillors in the neighbouring communes. Discussions only with the city government are not enough, he maintains. It is urgent to act with forward planning over the next 20 years or more. “Geneva profits from an extremely positive economic climate, but local infrastructure needs to adapt to such development and to take into account the nature of construction required. Our terminal A is now 50 years old, and we are now considering a new one. Growth is beneficial to a good quality of life, but such new infrastructure takes time ‒ for example, the need to build a direct tram line or the expanding of the autoroute.”
AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WITH DIFFERENT SITES IN FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND? Given that Geneva Airport is unlikely to be able to accommodate a second runway, does Schneider envisage a more direct collaboration with Lyon’s St Exupèry airport (1 hr 34 min by road) and even Milan? “A collaboration with these airports already exists. To imagine having an airport located on several different sites could be a good idea, but we would have to significantly improve the public transport links between them. We could envisage a sharing of such links, such as the creation of a high speed train (TGV), but for the moment this is not happening.” On a joint basis, both Geneva and Zurich airports currently offer connections to half the economic centres of Europe, including same-day return flights. “This enables us to develop economic models that we could not have imagined otherwise. The quality is there, but the problem is the air space available. How do we ensure that the nuisance pollution (noise) does not become unacceptable? As airport directors, we can make proposals, but in the end it is politicians who decide. As far as Europe is concerned, we are already well-situated. But we now have to develop our intercontinental access,” says Schneider. Recalling the historic role of Geneva’s airport, Schneider adds: “We have grown together with International Geneva. Its organizations would never have come here without the airport, given that we are the entry and departure point for this hub. But need to continue investing if we are to succeed.”
Luisa Ballin is a Geneva-based Swiss journalist, She contributes on a regular basis to Global Geneva.
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THE #METOO MOVEMENT
whistleblowing & leadership failure
Post Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement denouncing the sexual and occupational abuse of women has spread like forest fire from Hollywood. For human rights advocate & investigator into sexual harassment Caroline Hunt-Matthes, who has campaigned for greater institutional transparency, and proper due process in investigations, the International Switzerland community is now feeling the heat from this rapidly expanding global concern. Those coming under the spotlight range from Swiss corporate giant Nestlé to the United Nations itself. Foremost is Nestlé. With final arguments submitted on 28 February 2018, the Vevey-based multinational has found itself accused of neglecting food safety by a former senior executive, Dr. Yasmine Motarjemi. Against all odds, Motarjemi, a triple Swiss, Swedish and Iranian national, the ex-assistant vice-president and corporate food safety manager, has taken the company to task with allegations of retaliation as well as psychological and moral harassment for alerting her bosses to serious food safety issues, which was part of her job. The court is expected to render judgement in June 2018. From December 2015 to May 2017, the court heard testimony from various specialists and witnesses, including six top Nestlé directors. All six reportedly towed the company line until one manager broke ranks. She testified to having participated in the organized ‘mobbing’ or persecution and harassment of Motarjemi by Nestlé and apologized for having succumbed to peer pressure. At the root of this case was Motarjemi’s claim that mismanagement in food safety had ultimately contributed to incidents, such as E. coli O 157 in the United States in 2009 and melamine intoxication in China in 2008 resulting in the poisoning of some 300,000 infants, many of whom are believed to have died. She claims that Nestlé was in a position to prevent the incident but because of ongoing mismanagement in food safety, it failed to do so. Without avail, she sought to warn the company, exhausting all internal levels of management procedures. She states that based on her experience, the whistleblowing system required by the New York Stock Exchange for multinationals simply does not work in Nestlé. An internal investigation carried out by the management of Nestlé into her harassment allegations shows an outrageously flawed process, questioning the professional handling by management of such important issues. Disregarding her alerts, the head of her own food safety department retaliated against Motarjemi and her efforts to make an ethical stand on food safety. For the Nestlé leadership, this was not what the public wished
to – or should – hear. The company’s new German CEO Ulf Mark Schneider missed a unique opportunity, when Motarjemi proposed an informal review of values relating to the matter.(See her letter published online by Global Geneva to which Nestlé offered no response). Based on international transparency norms, corporate leadership is meant to assume responsibility on matters in the public interest. Whether such standards have been respected is now up to the Swiss court to declare. The University of Geneva is also finding itself under fire for harassment – and questionable findings by an investigation. The campaign against harassment #UNIUNIE has been raging since December 2017 when the Swiss journal, Le Courrier, broke the story. Students accuse university rector Yves Flückiger of sexist behaviour. A specially appointed investigative committee by the Vice
Headquarters of the U.N. Refugees Office in Geneva. © United Nations
Rector rejected the claims, maintaining that there was no intention of harassment and sexism. However, in an interview, Remy Wyler, a professor of Labour Law at the University of Lausanne, says the jurisprudence is clear. It is not the intention that is determinant; it is the perception or feeling of the victim which is paramount. Ironically Remy Wyler is the same lawyer who defends Nestlé against Motarjemi. An open letter published on the Geneva Students Association website 24 April 2018, which pinpointed the failures of those handling the case, resulted in the resignation of the discredited Vice-Rector. The Rector, on the other hand, maintains that he still intends to stand for a second term. A further case worth watching is Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Swiss-born Islamic scholar, who has been accused of rape by at least three women in France and one in Switzerland. Last January, the Oxford university professor and TV pundit was taken into custody by French police.
NEW LAWS: SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE Despite rising concerns, Switzerland continues to procrastinate with its draft whistleblower law. It was referred back to the Federal Council for revision in May 2015, yet, so far, there are no signs of it re-emerging. Ad interim, the most venerable of Geneva’s international institutions, the International Labour Organization (ILO), whose slow and diligent standard setting since 1919 is often overlooked by the public, is in the process of rising to the #MeToo challenge. Its Assembly ending on 8 June approved steps for new regulations to establish enforcement and protection mechanisms against harassment and abuse of authority. These will be presented at the Assembly next year. One advantage of ILO’s unique tripartite approach – unlike many institutions, including the UN – is that business and unions as well as governments have equal voices in decisions. Hence it may produce an exemplary standard which is sorely needed.
THE UNITED NATIONS WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION FAILURES The UN, for example, needs a serious prod to address the decade-long failure of the whistleblower protection (2006-2016) for its staff. Its new whistleblower policy introduced by the Secretary General at the beginning of 2017 got off to a bad start. Its first client, Emma Rielly of the Office for High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Geneva, highlighted glaring negligence by the UN Ethics Office to properly apply its own standards to protect her under the new policy. More failures point to the fact that the UN needs a competent and independent mechanism not only to administer protection, but also to advise leadership not to dig itself into a hole. Case in point: the achievements of UN Human Rights Chief Prince Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein were tainted with the high profile mis-management of various UN and international whistleblower protection cases, such as Miranda Brown (WIPO) and Anders Kompass (UNHCR). As the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approaches, Zeid’s conclusion that that the human rights climate around the world is “appalling” should serve as food for thought for the next High Commissioner. So should Eleanor Roosevelt’s warning: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
Caroline Hunt-Matthes is an adjunct professor at Webster University Geneva Campus and Grenoble Business School. She is also a specialist researcher on whistleblowing as well as independent investigator in the field of sexual exploitation and abuse. She herself has been the target of the UN’s longest-running (15 years) retaliation case against a whistleblower which was resolved at the Palais des Nations Tribunal on 1 June 2018 with an apology and settlement.
FROM THE FIELD
Coping with disaster
Last September, 2017, Hurricane Maria tore across the West Indies ravaging the island nation of Dominica and US territory of Puerto Rico making it the worst natural disaster recorded for both. The storm also represented the 10th most intense Atlantic storm on record. Nearly eight months later, contributing editor Jeff Carmel visited Dominica to see how people are coping, and whether they can rebuild in a manner that reduces future disaster risk. (All photographs by Jeff Carmel)
THE MASSIVE DESTRUCTION CAUSED BY MARIA is immediately visible as you fly in from the Caribbean Sea to Douglas-Charles Airport. Huge swathes of trees stand pale and naked, or lie felled across the mountainsides, like matchsticks violently scattered by a giant hand. Here and there stands a coconut palm with crown intact. As you approach the first signs of habitation, all you see are patchworks of green plots and brilliant blue plastic tarpaulins. And where there is no blue, there are sections of walls, concrete foundations and piles of jagged debris. With the next hurricane season barely a month away, numerous roofs ripped off or damaged by Maria’s Category 5-plus winds (225 miles per hour) remain to be repaired or replaced. Parts, too, were damaged by flash floods, landslides and hurtling boulders. Bursting its banks, the Roseau River – a torrent of logs, coconuts, silt and even vehicles - raged through the country’s capital destroying homes but also inundating government buildings as well as smashing bridges and sewage lines. Warren St. Jean, a Pentecostal pastor and former policeman whose concrete house foundations were washed away by a furious 20-foot wall of water and, debris echoed so many others in saying, “Our loss was great, but we still have life.” For Dominica’s 74,000 people, however, life hardly has returned to normal. With nearly four-fifths of the population affected, an estimated 90 per cent of the island’s buildings sustained damaged or destroyed roofs. Many homes, too, were completely wrecked. Livelihoods were wiped out in a matter of hours with nearly all crops, livestock, fishing boats and infrastructure shattered. Dominica’s outdoors-oriented tourism industry marketed as the “Nature Island of the Caribbean” was also dealt a massive blow. Road and hiking access to many of its attractions – waterfalls, lakes, hot springs – were been choked off; bridges were washed away, roads blocked by downed power lines, fallen trees and other debris. Much of its lush rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was denuded along with coastal woodlands. Dominica’s Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) estimates recovery costs for reconstruction and climate resilience in “building back better” at $1.37 billion. While the international humanitarian response was swift and as comprehensive as could be given the logistics, difficult terrain and scope of damage – at its peak, some eight UN agencies, 17 NGOs as well as the International Red Cross
were involved – but now comes the main challenge: the long-term rebuilding that goes beyond mere recovery. With the increase in Atlantic storms but also a rise in sea levels aggravated by climate change, island communities, similar to those in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, need to be rebuilt to withstand future catastrophe. Yet despite best intentions, the recovery phase has been painfully slow. Many Dominicans, fearing a new onslaught of storms with the 2018 hurricane season, now find themselves even more vulnerable than before, especially in remote villages still lacking electricity, water or regular access to information. Government and humanitarian housing programmes have built less than 160 units of the 7,000 projected. Unemployment, too, is a deep concern, while people living in unstable hillsides suffer from deep psycho-social trauma. Even the slightest breeze or hint of rain creates anxiety among both children and adults. Hurricane Maria also provoked long-simmering political and social rifts because of inadequate information and coordination. Based on numerous interviews with particular emphasis on listening to what ordinary people have to say, many Dominicans perceive that aid delivery has not always been fair. Political affiliations often determine who gets what and when. Frustration, however, now seems to have given way to resignation. As one government minister pointed out, even when there is a vision with everyone on board, “tribalism is high” with people making politics out of everything.
Without money or livelihoods, many are likely to move away. While the government recently extended the waiver of import taxes for building materials, progress is slow. For one, there are not enough boats to bring in supplies. Roofing screws, structural straps and other building materials have been hampered by procurement channels or are sitting in containers in the antiquated port. A further problem is the need for people to better grasp the government’s new Guide for Housing Standards that demonstrates how optimal house, roof and foundation design can help withstand high winds, such as the use of screws rather than nails to hold down roofing. As Environmental Minister Joseph Isaac points out, “the old building specs just won’t do anymore. Our biggest challenge is to make people understand that ‘Build Back Better’ is not just not a cliché but something being put into practice.” Otherwise, he adds, “the cycle repeats itself.” Yet the lack of screws means that even if wood has arrived, the government cannot follow its own specifications. While putting back roofs is the priority, Isaac continues, “we must look at our national image, clean up the debris, spur tourism again, and spread the word that the country is back.” The European Union, World Bank, China, Caricom, Cuba and other donors have been providing funding and other resources from the start. But far more investment is required to “build back better.” This includes getting the private sector involved, such as convincing reinsurance companies to invest beyond just responding with limited cash to basic premiums. Only then can there be real reduction of disaster risk.
San Diego-based journalist and digital media specialist Jeff Carmel was in Dominica on assignment for Ground Truth Solutions, an international NGO headquartered in Vienna, and one of four humanitarian-to-humanitarian (H2H) groups tasked with gathering and disseminating information about the relief effort.
La Isla by Anna Polonyi A gull pecks at a fish It drags the carcass tail first, head heavy The gull senses me It drops its prize waits for me
cast up on the shore. further out of the waves, facing the sea. watching.
walks away, not too far,
to lose interest,
to trick me into
what it found
is of no But little
value so I will go. does it know, just as I
did not quite
know until I watch it
from one side of its head,
that I am unlike
the rest of my species
on this beach:
I am a pilgrim, meaning:
I have nowhere
to be but here and that leaves
plenty of time especially
to watch the gulls,
this one and wait for it
to grow tired
Anna Polonyi Anna Polonyi is a Franco-American-Hungarian poet, writer and journalist who lives in Paris. A Harvard graduate, she is the former recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and the 2015 Sylvia Beach Short Fiction Prize. She holds a Master’s degree from Sciences Po Paris and her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Radio France Internationale, The Irish Times, and The Times of India, among others. Her poem, “La Isla,” was originally published by Finishing Line Press in Wayword, Polonyi’s first chapbook
of watching me. 41
Investing to prevent disaster Vulnerability to disasters has long been an integral part of the Asia Pacific’s history, and climate change is only going to intensify the dangers. But the region is taking steps to deal with the risks, and can provide lessons to other parts of the world. Loretta Hieber-Girardet, the recently-appointed Regional Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangkok, Thailand, shares her views on the need for greater investment in disaster prevention. MUCH OF MY LONG-TERM CAREER in the United Nations has been focused on disasters, and I was often struck by the seeming randomness of the death and destruction I encountered. In the 2010 Haiti earthquake, amidst devastation and block after block of collapsed structures, I would see a sole building standing-– its inhabitants mostly unharmed. Typhoon Haiyan’s fury was unleashed on the Philippines in November 2013 and thousands perished, but others heeded early warning and sought safety inland, preserving their lives. These disasters - and many others - I covered shared similar underlying factors: a lack of preparedness, weak governance, un-addressed vulnerabilities such as poverty, gender inequality and social exclusion, and in many cases a lack of commitment to address the root causes of the crisis.
A NEED FOR MORE ATTENTION AND RESOURCES - BEFORE RATHER THAN AFTER I recently shifted my career from responding to disasters to trying to prevent them instead. Over the years I came to understand that so much of the widespread destruction and loss of life in emergencies could have been avoided if governments and communities had focused far more attention and resources on disaster prevention. Six months ago, I became Chief of the UNISDR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction) regional office in Bangkok covering 42 countries in Asia and Pacific. In the past months, we marked the tenth anniversary of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar which killed 140,000 people and the Sichuan earthquake in China which left 70,000 people dead. In both cases, the high death tolls and billions of US dollars in economic losses could have been largely mitigated by more robust disaster risk reduction measures. In Myanmar, the cyclone’s impacts were greatly exacerbated by earlier damage to the environment, including deforestation and destruction of mangroves which could have served as a buffer against the storm surge. Cyclone Nargis illustrates the vicious circle in which a hazard can become a major disaster due, in part, to environmental degradation.
In China, thousands of children perished when their school buildings collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake and since then the government has enforced strict building codes, especially on public structures such as schools and hospitals. A few weeks ago, I visited China’s National Disaster Management Centre in Beijing where teams are working 24 hours a day to monitor hazards across the country using satellite imagery. China invested heavily in these dedicated systems after the Sichuan earthquake specifically to improve its prediction capacities and early warning systems for disaster management. I have travelled extensively in the region in the past months and found that solid progress is being made in other countries as well to improve disaster risk reduction. But I have also learned that far more investment is needed if the growing risks are to be averted. A person living in the Asia-Pacific region is five-times more likely to be affected by natural disasters than a person living outside the region. It is likely that 40 per cent of future global economic losses from disasters will be in Asia-Pacific, with the greatest losses in the largest economies – Japan and China, followed by the Republic of Korea and India.
MORE INTENSE CYCLONES AND TYPHOONS MEANS INCREASED DANGERS Rapid, unplanned urbanization is creating new risks. Asia-Pacific has just over two billion urban residents. That’s 60 per cent of the world’s urban population. The region’s cities will grow by another billion by 2040. This means that by 2050, two thirds of the region’s population will live in cities. Huge concentrations of people and physical and financial assets in the region’s fast-growing cities means that a single major disaster can result in widespread human catastrophe and wipe out decades of development gains. Colliding with this chaotic, galloping urbanization is climate change. Asia may see 50 per cent more rainfall due to climate change, leading to increased risk of flooding in cities. As global temperatures rise, more intense cyclones and typhoons will further increase the dangers.
Post-disaster housing.© UNISDR
A changing climate and rapidly growing exposure to disaster risk presents countries in Asia and the Pacific with an unprecedented challenge. To meet the growing threats in the region, new approaches are needed. Improving disaster preparedness and management remains critical, but we also need far more emphasis on understanding and managing risk. This entails understanding the potential impact of a future hazard when deciding when and how to build new infrastructure, or when developing a new agricultural strategy. Embedding resilience means taking pre-emptive steps to address the potential impact of a disaster. A simple example is making sure new infrastructure is built to withstand an earthquake. But resilience also includes educating people and making sure all members of a society are aware of the risks they face and are supported to take appropriate measures to protect their lives and livelihoods. Mega-disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami or the 2015 Nepal earthquakes grab global headlines and result in devastating losses of lives and material damage. Unfortunately, it is often only after such catastrophes, that appropriate action is taken by governments, the private sector and civil society to prevent future similar disasters.
THE MORE WE DO IT NOW, THE LESS WE WILL PAY IN FUTURE. These major events are rare though and it is, instead, the “silent” disasters that never make the news that have such a negative impact on sustainable social and economic growth in the Asia Pacific region. Low intensity, high frequency events such as local flooding, or mudslides that result in, for example, business closures, and transportation disruption are relentlessly chipping away at hard-earned development gains, keeping communities locked in poverty, and dependent on external resources to survive. Part of my new professional challenge is to convince others that embedding resilience into development is an
investment not a cost. The more we do it now, the less we will pay in future. But in the few months since assuming my post, I have been confronted with the reality that disaster prevention does not attract the same resources as disaster response. Governments and people naturally want to give money to help others when their lives and livelihoods are in danger and this is a good thing. This isn’t always the case when we say a disaster “might” happen and therefore resources are needed to avert potential future losses. There is a cogent case for investing in disaster risk reduction especially at the community level even if a disaster does not strike. Taking measures to increase disaster resilience will help communities and countries achieve a more attractive investment climate. A strengthened emphasis on environmental protection and community empowerment has a positive multiplier effect: creation of new jobs as well as improved and more diverse livelihoods. Such benefits are critical enablers for the achievement of sustainable development, which is at the heart of today’s global agenda. The more we can do ‘upfront’ to build more resilient communities, cities and economies- the less impact disasters will have. This is a key message to be shared at the forthcoming Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction that UNISDR is co-hosting with the Mongolian government in Ulaan Baatar in early July. Through risk-sensitive planning and investment in disaster risk reduction, countries can better safeguard their investments thereby ensuring development will be sustained for future generations. Nowhere is this more urgent than Asia-Pacific- the most disaster-prone region in the world and home to two-thirds of the global population.
Loretta Hieber-Girardet was with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) from 2009- 2017. Previously, she worked for the World Health Organisation, including in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Time for an
A new style of teaching is converting curious young minds into designers, developers and engineers starting from ages 8 to 14. A highly unusual educational institution, STEP, recently launched its 48th campus in the heart of International Geneva. Global Geneva digital editor David Breed met with directors Vitalii Varbanets and Vincent Baumgartner to explore the technology gap between West and East and discuss why they think that now is the time for an IT revolution in Switzerland. Please see the full version in Global Geneva online
Vincent Baugartner (VB): Growing up in Switzerland, I learned coding the hard way: sitting down, read and read and repeat. But that’s not how you learn coding; you learn by practice…We ask our students to create things they can use in their everyday life. They build things they can take home and show to their parents and friends. At STEP Academy we don’t teach tech for tech, we are teaching tech as a tool.
conditioning children to use technology in a passive way which can have a negative effect on their development… For instance, at the STEP Summer Camp kids spend five days building what they see in toy stores. Using professional kits they learn robotics and sensors with Arduino, build components with a 3D printer, make stop-motion Lego videos for YouTube, or design game environments with the Unity 3D engine.
Vitalii Varbanets (VV): Digital skills are missing in schools. Many students come to us who have never touched a PC before. But they’re able to obtain much better results than computer-literate children because they learn fast. The greatest advantage of kids at STEP Academy is the rate they acquire knowledge, and the freedom to ask questions…and these suddenly become a video game!
GG: Are video games intrinsically educational whether or not we like what values they convey?
Global Geneva (GG): Where children start is very important. It’s not just about gaining a vocational tool but also of programming their brains to be more receptive to learning. VV: Yes, when we start each class we explain the end goal: say “you will accomplish this”. The idea is to start with the smallest element and then build from there. For instance, building a website about a restaurant starts with a few recipes, or maybe traditional family dishes. The emphasis is less about programming than content creation… It’s also important not to tell students ‘what to do’ but rather ‘how to find’. We encourage children to be explorers. VB: Parents are often worried that sending their children to technical schools will turn them into geeks. But the opposite is true. Almost every child has access to a screen, whether phone, tablet or computer, which turns them into media consumers. Our approach is to turn these little consumers into actors. We’ve seen this at our other campuses: once children start creating their own games, the time they spend playing games actually decreases. It is much more empowering for a child to play a game they have created. We’re shaping young people to be informed and prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. VV: Public education is not tackling this problem. Most institutions are preparing children for the world they know about. But the world and the state of technology is changing constantly. What children post to social media today could be highly embarrassing when they grow up. It’s essential to teach children about online privacy, cyber security, and how to behave on the Internet. Technology itself is getting better, but the way we use technology may actually be getting worse. GG: It seems children today are in need of a healthy digital diet. Depending on the visual stimulus they absorb, their cognitive ‘muscles’ are likely to expand or retract. VV: As we are surrounded by technology, it’s important to understand the good things and the bad. Children seated in cars having tablets to keep them quiet. This is
VV: It upsets me that games are addictive… Education should be even more interesting than video games, which are seen as time killers. But look at the behavioural aspects of a video game: children must process volumes of information, carry on voice chat with people who share the same values, track indicators on progress and how your level is improving. In the traditional education systems it is vice versa…Our goal is to make education more addictive than games. Kids are natural learners, but somewhere along the way their curiosity is lost. VB: What’s great about new technology is you can gamify the educational experience. However, public education in Switzerland is slow to adapt. Countries like Estonia and Sweden are much more forward looking, whereas the City of Geneva is reluctant to introduce coding in public schools, arguing it’s too complicated and takes too much time. GG: STEP Academy’s open-learning format may run contrary to the customary Socratic method of Swiss education. Does tradition put Swiss children at a disadvantage to children in Eastern Europe and Asia? VV: For me, having taught in 17 countries, I’d say Switzerland has the best system. In my ideal world, education in schools should not only be about learning but lead you to find your passion. Or what you want to do in life. Once you find out what your aspirations are, everything changes. I find it really upsetting for people who only understand what it is they want to do at age 35 or 40. GG: What is it the Swiss do differently if it’s about cultivating a child’s natural interests? VV: What’s remarkable is that parents have much more time to spend with their children… playing with their children outdoors more than letting them play video games at home. That is a very important concept. One of the best metrics for determining success for the next generation is understanding the ratio of time children spend playing with their parents versus the time spent playing computer games on their own. GG: What we often think of as play for children is actually more like collaborative world-building. Perhaps the role of parents is to help give shape to the proceedings?
CHANGEMAKERS | STEP ACADEMY: TIME FOR AN IT REVOLUTION
VV: We’ve had several parents come to our Open House on game development, and they stayed with the children to observe, and then start working on the game together. This is the ideal case, for parents to create something with their children rather than letting them alone. GG: YouTube is something we often think is for teenagers, but the course starts at eight years old. Are there other skills children can acquire at this early age? VV: We’ll have new programmes for children aged 5 to 7 focusing on basic introductions to algorithms. There’s a tool called Lego WeDo, which is similar to Lego Mindstorms, where students can build a model of a crocodile and learn how to programme the mouth to open and close. Another exercise teaches the coding required to construct an elevator. With the YouTube classes, we teach stop-motion animation, using small Lego figures, placing them on a scene, and then compositing the photos. We also offer a course on 3D modelling using TinkerCad. GG: 3D modelling at age 7? VV: We were also surprised to learn that children of this age are better at 3D design than 2D. It’s simply because they experience the world in 3D so it is much more intuitive to create models in 3D. GG: Being able to build something that resembles the worlds they see on television must be really rewarding. VV: Constructor kits by Little Bits have gained popularity, which teach children how to build mechanical devices. By piecing various components together and adding buttons you can generate music or sounds or play like a guitar. While small children are not so good at complex tasks they are really good at putting parts together. There is also the Dash & Dots robots which can be piloted by a mobile phone, where you programme commands to go forward, turn left and right, or avoid obstacles. This teaches that code is about having a fixed task and then splitting those tasks. GG: What are the future plans? VB: One of our projects is with private daycare, or crèches. Many educators studying at the University of Geneva are not current on digital skills. So we’ll be setting up courses for their employees. We will be moving more in this direction of corporate training. In Geneva, there is a lack of very basic skills on specific types of tools for the workplace…The focus of the adult courses will be coding, digital design and Internet marketing, with an emphasis on real-world applications. We are discussing with several companies about developing partnerships with our
students, for instance, if they can build a landing page for a website, or coding for mobile Apps. Not necessarily for the corporate website but perhaps adding features to existing sites or Apps. Our aim is to be flexible. If a business has a specific need we can design a course. Because half of our staff are based in Geneva, with the backoffice in Ukraine, we can call on our technical team to develop a format quickly and affordably. This allows us to adapt very quickly. GG: The hot trend this year is improving ‘Data Culture’ to promote broader transmission of data-related skills within UN agencies and IOs. VV: STEP relies on data management for its students, and many of our decisions about improving courses are data driven. Across all of our campuses…their performance and feedback is monitored via our central administration. Our HQ looks like NASA with giant displays screens showing metrics on all of our students, which refreshes every 30 secs. We know exactly where we can optimise on a daily basis. GG: You seem to be channeling the future of executive education. VV: Companies that wish to survive for the next 10-20 years will need to adopt this type of monitoring and apply AI to their management systems today. You have to make decisions quickly. Education itself is changing very rapidly. Looking into the 2019 we are testing programmes which are not about acquiring skills, but on improving how people learn. One course for children age 7 is about brain development. We have parents who are learning by the same methodology. Another course focuses on creative expression. This kind of ‘soft skill’ enables students to better communicate with people and to understand, for instance, what a client is really saying on a brief. For more information, please see: https://geneva.itstep.org/
Plug into Switzerland
www.lenews.ch Swiss news and activity ideas 47
President Macron inaugurating renovated Château de Voltaire. [Pool photo/AFP]
FRANCE’S CRUMBLING CHATEAUX:
Not the only cultural heritage under threat
At the end of May, 2018, French president Emmanuel Macron visited the newly-renovated 17th century Château de Voltaire in the town of Ferney-Voltaire near the Swiss border. He travelled to the frontier Pays de Gex region not only to talk about literature and philosophy, but also to announce the creation of a UK-style National Trust lottery to help save France’s deteriorating cultural heritage, or patrimoine, Yet what the young leader had in mind had more to do with the poor condition of some 269 deteriorating chateaux, abbeys, bridges and dovecots. Not the steady destruction of the country’s historic village heritage by property developers, Paris law and local mayors. IT’S A NOBLE CONCERN THAT WILL APPEAL TO MANY. President Macron’s aim is to use the lottery – quickly - as a means of mobilizing private money to avoid raising taxes and leaving a debt for the young generation. “We need to create new resources and to mobilise private money,” he said. “That’s the only way to save these monuments in peril.” Macron, however, was not talking about the deliberate destruction of buildings in the historic centres or ‘bourgs’ of hundreds of France’s small towns and villages from the Haute Savoie to the Côte d’Azur. This concern was raised by one local resident – only those living in the vicinity of the Château were invited – who pointed out that property developers were “tearing down” 17th century barns and other traditional structures in ‘lovely’ villages. “This means that the local population will never enjoy these old buildings or understand their own heritage,” she said. Macron immediately agreed that knocking down old buildings is not acceptable. “We need to establish projects organized by local authorities together with local associations and private players,” he said. “But these still need to be financed.” While the French Ministry of Culture may declare châteaux and village fountains as ‘protected’, it does not take into account local or regional historic character. Many villages, too, are located in rapidly expanding urban areas, such as the border zones with Switzerland or Germany, where there are enormous social and political pressures to build.
Property developers stand to gain exceptional profits from fast and cheap construction. Furthermore, under French law, they can more or less do what they like, often aided and abetted by local authorities operating without proper transparency or indulging in perceived conflicts of interest. Such abuses would “never be acceptable” in northern Europe, such as Germany or the Netherlands, as one legal expert pointed out at the 2018 OECD conference on Corruption and Integrity in Paris. “Nor according to EU or UN norms and standards,” he added. And yet, even the French Ministry of Interior, which maintains that local mayors do have the right to protect their historic village ‘bourgs’, admits that there is no real oversight except “after the fact.” So when buildings are destroyed in a questionable manner, it is too late. What this means is that traditional village structures ranging from centuries’ old stone farms to town houses are simply bulldozed to be replaced with bland, cataloguestyle apartment blocks with little regional character. Or they are constructed in a manner that threatens nearby buildings, such as in areas prone to flooding if not landslides. In one Pays de Gex village, urban planners allowed the construction – despite warnings – of a two-story underground parking which caused a nearby just- renovated 19th century church building to literally fissure in half. While in another the local authorities allowed the developers to simply re-issue the same plans with slight changes in order to get around the law.
Many mayors argue that there is nothing much they can do, but that they’re the ones getting blamed. They must abide by rules imposed by Paris. But public opposition is growing and people want their mayors to be held accountable. The French press, too, is finally beginning to turn its attention to local heritage issues. However, for many ordinary residents, who feel helpless and ignored, there is often little they can do. The developers tend to manipulate the law in a manner that cannot be contested. Or they threaten costly law suits. Furthermore, some mayors, or their cronies, seek to intimidate, sometimes with verbal, even physical threats. On taking office just over a year ago, President Macron made it clear that no public official with a history of illegal activity should be in government. Yet lack of transparency and proper accountability are clearly critical issues, particularly among many of France’s 35,000+ mayors. Macron’s visit to Ferney may have drawn attention to the need to protect France’s beautiful patrimoine. But it also underlines the fact that the very democracy and freedom of expression so vociferously upheld by Voltaire is also under threat.
Livre sur les Quais
Book festival on Lake Geneva
THE ANNUAL BOOK FESTIVAL LE LIVRE SUR LES QUAI returns 31 August to 2 September taking over the picturesque Old Town of Morges with its participating hotels, restaurants and boats positioned against a backdrop of Lake Geneva and the Alps. This is not only one of the biggest francophone festivals around - hosting some 280 writers – but includes a full programme of events and talks in English. Maggie O’Farrell will talk about the complexities of writing a memoir and confronting the possibility of one’s own death; Chibundu Onuzu from Nigeria will explore the challenges of writing about one’s country from afar, especially when tackling the issues of politics and corruption. Xiaolu Guo will discuss growing up in China in a little fishing village and her journey to a Beijing film school and a writer’s life in Western Europe. Her memoir, Once Upon the time in the East, hailed by the Telegraph as ‘this generation’s Wild Swans’, won many prizes including the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award.
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Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s Slippery Slope in Switzerland
PHOTO © Samuel Ferrara
Maxwell (‘Max’) Perkins, the renowned New York editor, discovered Scott Fitzgerald in 1919. This led to the publication of “This Side of Paradise” in 1920 and eventually his magical American fairy tale “The Great Gatsby” in 1925. Fitzgerald in turn introduced Perkins to Ernest Hemingway resulting in the publication of the archetypal disillusioned expatriate novel “The Sun Also Rises” in 1926. This was followed in 1929 by the novel that everyone has read, “A Farewell to Arms”, whose final scenes take place in Lausanne’s Clinique Cecil, which still exists. The Basel-based Irish writer Padraig Rooney, whose beautiful and amusing book, “The Gilded Chalet,” explores Switzerland’s relationship with American, British and other expatriate authors, looks at Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s encounters with the Lake Geneva region. THE WAR WAS OVER AND THE FRENCH FRANC CHEAP: twenty-five to the US dollar in the mid-twenties. Ernest Hemingway first breezed into Switzerland from Paris, in 1922, to cover the International Peace Conference in Lausanne for the Toronto Star. A cub reporter, the same age as the century. His wife Hadley departed the Gare de Lyon to join him but her suitcase was stolen. It contained “everything I had written,” wrote Hemingway. “She was bringing the manuscripts down to me to Lausanne as a surprise.” Those were the days when aspiring writers kept only one copy and a carbon. “She had put in the originals, the typescripts and the carbons, all in manila folders.” Despite the theft, they spent an idyllic four months in the hinterland above Montreux. Forty years later Hemingway remembered it in A Moveable Feast: “Below Les Avants there was a chalet where the pension was wonderful and where we would be together and have our books … I remember the Rhône, narrow and grey and full of snow-water and the two trout streams on either side, the Stockalper and the Rhone canal.” Already a keen fisherman, Hemingway soon became a proficient skier. Over the next twenty years, he skied in the Vorarlberg, straddling Austria and Switzerland. But the marriage didn’t last. By 1927 Hemingway was back in Switzerland with his second wife, Vogue correspondent Pauline Pfeiffer. She was a Paris Right Bank heiress but it would be a mistake to caricature her as another rich American slumming in the jazz bars of Montmartre. She shared her husband’s journalistic savvy (three of his wives were journalists) and rubbed shoulders with Chanel and Lanvin. In Gstaad they stayed in the Posthotel Rössli. By now he was working on A Farewell to Arms. His characters, a nurse and recovering war-wounded soldier, nip across the Italian border into neutral Switzerland, a neat, romantic escape for these martini refugees. The nurse gets pregnant and it ends badly in a “false spring”, with a stillbirth in the hospital in Lausanne. He liked to see the shores of Lake Geneva as an escape from the First World War in which he had been an ambulance driver on the Italian front. Hemingway’s short story Homage to Switzerland is set in a station café in Territet on the outskirts of Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva. A quiet story, untypical of him, understated like the Swiss themselves. There are “baskets of pretzels in glazed paper sacks” and the waitress speaks “German and French and the dialects.” Three different American men try to engage her and the local railway workers in bragging banter. One character offers her
a large sum of money to spend the night with him. But like Switzerland, she’s not for sale. Homage to Switzerland is a little gem of on the clash of cultures. The dollar is riding high, the American century full-steam ahead, and Hemingway’s travellers have no foreign language to speak of, are careless of culture, and are passing through. The older democracy holds steady against such people. “Switzerland is a country where very few things begin, but many things end,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. With Zelda in tow, he was more of a party animal than Hemingway. Publication in The Saturday Evening Post kept Fitzgerald in funds – by 1929 he could command $4,000 a story. He changed the endings to make them more saleable. “He said it was whoring,” Hemingway tells us, “but he had to do it as he made his money from the magazines to have money ahead to write decent books.”
CULTURE | HEMINGWAY’S AND FITZGERALD’S SLIPPERY SLOPE IN SWITZERLAND
“Switzerland is the country where very few things begin, but many things end” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald’s Switzerland is part-luxury hotel, part-clinic. His rich, careless people bray through Europe in leisure-class. Despite years in France, Fitzgerald had horrendous French and an “atrocious” accent, according to his daughter. “Je suis un stranger here,” was one of his more accomplished phrases. “Très bien, you son of a bitch!” was another, reserved for taxi drivers. He couldn’t spell either, Hemingway admits mischievously: “I knew him for two years before he could spell my name; but then it was a long name to spell…” Gstaad, like the Côte d’Azur, was a gathering spot for Americans abroad. The Fitzgeralds stayed at the Palace Hotel with the beautiful people. Then as now, Gstaad and environs was where the wealthy parked their children in international schools and their money in banks. They indulged in the new sport of skiing. At a tea dance “four-score young Americans, domiciled in schools near Gstaad, bounced about to the frolic of ‘Don’t Bring Lulu,’ or exploded violently with the first percussions of the Charleston. It was a colony of the young, simple, and expensive…” By the time the 1929 crash came, Zelda was in Switzerland for re-hab and Scott was leading a rootless existence in lakeside hotels. More than the economy was coming apart. She had always been high-maintenance. Scott booked her into the Valmont clinic (Rainer Maria Rilke and the Belgian royal family had been patients). Later she was transferred to Les Rives de Prangins outside Nyon overlooking Lake Geneva, to the tune of a thousand dollars a month. For Scott it would mean more stories with trick endings. Tender is the Night, published in 1934, describes the arc of their slippery slope. Doctor Diver is a psychiatrist at “a rich person’s clinic” who thinks he’s on the way up but he’s really on the way down. He marries money but has been bought to look after his unstable wife: “swallowed up like a gigolo”. By the end of the novel, Diver is ensconced in the Hôtel des Trois Mondes in Lausanne with a louche collection of inter-war racketeers and the detritus of the Roaring Twenties: “throughout the hotel there were many chambers wherein rich ruins, fugitives from justice, claimants to the thrones of mediatised principalities, lived on the derivatives of opium or barbital … This corner of Europe does not so much draw people as accept them without inconvenient questions.” Fitzgerald is onto something here. Switzerland for American writers between the wars was a funfair and a slippery slope in equal measure.
Padraig Rooney is an Irish author whose most recent book is The Gilded Chalet – Off-piste in literary Switzerland. Rooney also teaches at the International School of Basel.
CULTURE & BUSINESS
Book publishing confronts the Internet Do publishers – and readers – need to decide which way to go when it comes to printed or e-books? Our America’s editor, William Dowell, asks whether books in the future will be digital, printed on paper or both. IN THE EARLY 1960S, A CHARISMATIC VISIONARY NAMED TED NELSON began working on a concept that quickly turned into an obsession. Nelson’s goal was nothing less than gathering the world’s collective knowledge in a centralized repository that would be instantly accessible to everyone, a sort of computerized version of the ancient Library of Alexandria only this time on a global scale. He named his vision, Project Xanadu. Although Nelson worked on the project for decades, it never got off the ground, mostly because he lacked the technical expertise and the funding to complete it. Nelson’s real mistake, however, was to base his grand plan on centralizing knowledge rather than focusing on accessing it where it already existed at different locations around the world. The Internet and Tim Berners-Lee’s work on the World Wide Web (invented in the Lake Geneva region), managed to do just that, while Google’s ingenious algorithms made it possible to navigate through a decentralized ocean of random information regardless of geographic location.
HOW VIABLE ARE BOOKS? The digital revolution that followed changed the way we access information. It has raised questions about the continued viability of the book, which for the last two thousand years has been the most adaptable and practical vehicle for storing what we know. The question debated by publishers today is will books printed on paper continue in the future, or will they be replaced once and for all by digital eBooks that can be read on tablets, smart phones and computer laptops. The answer at least for the present is that both print and digital books are likely to be in widespread use for the foreseeable future. What is dramatically changing in the world of publishing is the dynamics of the way books are sold–not the books themselves. In the United States, where the change is most visible, the shift from bricks-and-mortar book stores to online sales for books in print as well as for digital eBooks has been dramatic. The transition to online sales echoes what is happening in the larger retail market as well. It will likely transform the range of access as well as the kind of books that we are likely to read in the future.
THE CHANGE IN PUBLISHING — AND HOW BOOKS ARE READ The first assault on local book stores dates back to the 1990s, when chain stores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders introduced mass marketing strategies into an industry that had remained relatively unchanged for more than a century. In contrast to the few hundred books on display at the typical neighbourhood bookstore, Barnes and Noble could offer instant access to thousands of books. Chain stores often sweetened the deal with a 25 per cent discount on best-selling titles. Many local bookstores found it difficult to compete. For a brief period, it looked as though the chain stores would dominate the future of publishing, but then Jeff Bezos stepped into the picture. After graduating from Princeton with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, and then working on Wall Street for several years, Bezos drove from New York City to Seattle, Washington. Along the way, he realized that as far as book stores went, most of rural America was already a desert.
AMAZON AND THE INTERNET REVOLUTION The solution, Bezos decided, was to shift sales to the Internet. Bezos convinced his family to invest $300,000, and he was off and running. The new venture was named “Amazon” mostly because the “A” put the company alphabetically at the head of the line. While Bezos started by selling conventional print books, he was attracted to digital publishing as the innovation that promised to put Amazon on the map. For Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, any Kindle owner could make an impulse purchase of just about any book he wanted and start reading it immediately. It didn’t matter if you were at the beach or at an airport waiting for your plane to take off. In 2005, he bought a French software company, Mobipocket, which had developed sophisticated software for e-publishing. Bezos then turned to developing a dedicated eReader, the Kindle, which appeared on the scene in 2007. Bezos’ idea was to make any book instantly downloadable to a Kindle regardless of where you were. The critical feature that Bezos insisted on was that
the Kindle had to connect to an Amazon sales point without requiring the customer to sign up for an internet connection. To do this Bezos contracted with Qualcomm, which created a specially dedicated cellular network, dubbed “Whisper Net.” From that point on, any Kindle owner could make an impulse purchase of just about any book he wanted and start reading it immediately. It didn’t matter if you were at the beach or at an airport waiting for your plane to take off. From the beginning, Amazon offered access to some 90,000 books, a figure that dwarfed anything that Barnes and Noble could possibly equal. Today, Amazon by the best estimate provides access to nearly six million titles in 12 countries. In contrast to conventional books which are increasingly expensive to send through the mail, eBooks are oblivious to international frontiers and can be downloaded anywhere in the world. Bezos, had, in fact, realized a large part of Ted Nelson’s dream of making much of the world’s knowledge instantly accessible. It was no accident that by tapping into the book market, Bezos was able to identify and link to thousands of educated consumers at the top of the retail food chain. Amazon soon moved from books to selling just about everything. Its annual revenues today are more than $178 billion.
PRINT AND E-BOOKS: AN OVERALL INCREASE ON SALES. Amazon’s stunning success delighted some and frightened others. More than a few publishers hoped that the public would grow tired of reading electronic books and Ereader sales did begin to plateau in 2013, and then go into a slight decline. That may have given some hope to pro-print luddites, but the decline turned out to be due in part to the vastly improved resolution and flexibility of iPads, tablets and smartphones that became substitute platforms. Apple increased the practicality and comfort of reading on a screen when it launched its “Retina” displays which have nearly the same resolution as a printed page. Amazon smartly made its eBooks readable on almost any tablet or smartphone. Another advantage of Amazon’s approach was space. You could literally keep hundreds of books stored on Amazon’s servers without crowding yourself in a small apartment. The impact on the publishing market, at least in the US, is obvious. The Borders chain which had employed more than 19,000 people went out of business in 2011. In 2015-16, according to figures published by AuthorEarnings.com, a website that tracks book sales for authors, overall American sales of traditionally published books increased by 3.3 per cent, but sales at Barnes and Nobles declined by 6 per cent. Sales at Walmart, Target and similar stores dropped by 5 per cent and sales at airports, train stations, etc. declined by 2 percent. In contrast, sales at independent bookstores went up by percent. The real winner was Amazon which increased its book sales by a whopping 35 per cent. Bezos’ company was in effect clearly devouring the rest of the industry. At the same time that print sales were on the upswing, eBook sales through Amazon increased by 4 percent. 56
For Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, any Kindle owner could make an impulse purchase of just about any book he wanted and start reading it immediately. It didn’t matter if you were at the beach or at an airport waiting for your plane to take off. A large number of these sales bypassed conventional publishers and didn’t show up on standard sales reports. According to Author Earnings, Amazon sold more than 480 million eBooks in 2016. While the most striking trend was a major shift towards purchasing books on line rather than from bricks-and-mortar stores, there was an equally intriguing tendency for new writers to go it alone and publish their own work on line rather than depend on the traditional publishing establishment. Amazon is playing a major role in defining this market as well. Through Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon offers to print copies of an author’s book from a stored PDF as orders come in. The printing cost, around $8 per book, is automatically deducted from the author’s royalties when a sale is made. A growing number of companies offer similar deals. to all tastes. It is the content that matters.
IT’S THE BOOK THAT MATTERS, NOT THE FORMAT: CATERING TO ALL TASTES The traditional publisher’s edge, of course, is in the professional help in editing, access to established distribution networks and its ability to publicize an author. As more and more sales go on line, however, the bottom line is that independent authors now have more options available than at any time in the past. In deciding whether to go with traditional print books or to go digital with an eBook, it may be worth taking a cue from the former students and professors at MIT’s Media Lab, who developed the “electronic ink” now used in Amazon’s Kindle. The Media Lab saw books as “bits and atoms.” The computer bits hold knowledge. The atoms are the physical form in which that knowledge is presented. The two do not need to be the same. In other words, the essence of a book is its intellectual content. The form in which it is presented does not really matter. It follows that the best approach for both publishers and authors is to make a book’s content available in as many different forms as possible.
Global Geneva America’s editor William Dowell is based in Philadelphia. An author and former foreign correspondent for TIME and ABC News, he has reported world-wide on issues ranging from wars and politics to the nuclear industry, culture and international aid. This piece was originally published online as part of Global Geneva’s coverage leading up to the 2018 Geneva Book Fair, where New York was the honorary guest.
Writing — or attending literary events — in Switzerland
Exactly two hundred years after the publication of Frankenstein, a novel Percy Shelley ‘s 19-year-old wife Mary dreamt up during a visit to Geneva, Switzerland continues to attract readers and writers. Jonathan Coe found inspiration for his 2015 novel “Number 11” following a visit to the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Jill Alexander Essbaum set her debut novel “Hausfrau” in a leafy Zurich suburb. Matthew Wake explores some of the literary happenings - or where to go to write - in Switzerland this summer.
SUMMER IN SWITZERLAND IS ALWAYS A GREAT TIME to respond to one’s literary urge, whether finding that inspirational location in the mountains to write one’s novel or to attend this country’s numerous cultural events. This year’s season got underway in early May with the inaugural Bibliotopia Festival at the Fondation Jan Michalski’s Centre for Writing & Literature at the foot of the Jura Mountains near Lausanne. Focusing on migrants and refugees, this brought together writers from around the world to address the theme of literature beyond borders. Through readings, debates and interviews, the panellists explored geographical, emotional and linguistic displacement, much of it based on their own personal experiences. The weekend line-ups included Chinese-British film-maker and author Xiaolu Guo, Romanian György Dragomán and Albanian Gazi Kapllani. Later this year, Global Geneva plans to put together a Special Report of short stories and essays on personal refugee and migration experiences. If you are an established or aspiring writer then the Fondation Jan Michalski should already be on your bucket list. Opened by Vera Michalski-Hoffmann in 2004, this architecturally innovative centre is devoted to supporting the written word. As well as housing a multilingual public library, the Fondation offers financial support for literary projects. Writers can also spend uninterrupted one-on-one time with their manuscripts in the adjoining ‘Treehouses’. Applications for the next year’s residencies opened in May 2018. (See Global Geneva article by Indian author Taran Khan who spent her three-month fellowship living in one’s of the centre’s hanging pods or ‘treehouses’.) On the subject of literary festivals, Man Booker Prize winner John Banville read from his autobiography Time Pieces. A Dublin Memoir at the Solothurn Literary Festival which took place in mid-May, while Swiss-based writer Padraig Rooney read his poetry over that weekend too. (See Rooney’s Global Geneva article on Hemingway and Fitzgerald in this issue). Banville will be at the Zurich Open Air Literary Festival in July, alongside Irvine Welsh of Trainspotting Fame, American writer and journalist Rebecca Solnit, and multi-award-winning author Teju Cole. In September there is the Morges Book Festival or Le Livre sur les Quais to look forward to. Taking place in the lakeside town between Geneva and Lausanne, it has an English section that features roundtable discussions and literary cruises on Lake Geneva. (Check with Global Geneva’s own online events for more details). And if that’s not enough to fulfil your yen for literary satori, to close the summer there is the American Literature Festival in Oron. It is a small festival with a
growing reputation and this year has attracted Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo as one of its headline authors, alongside Laura Kasischke and Jean Hegland. In the past few years, Swiss-based writers have found literary acclaim in the English-speaking world. To follow in their footsteps you could join Vaud resident Jason Donald at his annual Write Time Retreat in Gstaad at the end of May. Donald wrote his latest book, Dalila (2017), in Switzerland. His week-long gathering offers the chance to exercise the tools of the writing trade with a group of like-minded souls. Michelle Bailat-Jones (Unfurled, 2018) is offering a year-long Writing the Novel course to help writers complete their potential magnum opus, and Daniella Norris(Recognitions, 2016) hosts the annual Inspired Writing Retreat at the Chateau de Bossey, between Geneva and Nyon. There is always something going on at the Geneva Writer’s Group. You can catch one of their monthly craft workshops, attend the bi-annual conference or submit to their Offshoots Anthology. For the truly brave, how does going on stage in front of a group of strangers and reciting your poetry grab you? If that does not fill your quivering heart with terror, then you might enjoy the monthly Geneva Open Mic Poetry Readings at the Ethno Bar. ‘Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving,’ it seems that everyone is welcome. Writers throughout Switzerland should keep an eye on The Woolf Quarterly, an online literary magazine that provides writing news and prizes for writers and artists. They run an annual short story competition, the annual WriteCon writing weekend and monthly meet-ups in Zurich to stop writers getting lonely as they wrestle with their words on the page. It is even possible to enjoy literary tourism in Switzerland and visit whole towns that are devoted to books. If you’ve never been to the hidden and somewhat magical town of Romainmôtier, then put the weekend of 14-17 September in the diary for the Foire aux Livres when more than 100,000 second-hand books will be on sale. But the award for the most bookish town in Switzerland has to go to St-Pierre-de-Clages in the Valais. The ‘Village du livre’ boasts seven bookshops within its walls and organises an annual book festival at the end of August. It seems that the physical book is alive and well and living in Switzerland and it is all here for you to discover. Mary Shelley would be proud.
Matthew Wake is the owner of Books Books Books, the independent English bookshop in Lausanne. The bookshop also organises occasional book readings and other events.
LETTER FROM NICARAGUA
Volunteering to help, but also learn
Raleigh International is a UK-based development charity that seeks to bring about change through young people. For more than 30 years, it has deployed over 42,000 local and international volunteers from 17 to 25 to work on projects in countries such as Tanzania, Nepal, Malaysia and Nicaragua. Launched in 1978 as Operation Drake by Prince Charles and Colonel John Blashford-Snell, a former British army officer, explorer and author, it evolved into Operation Raleigh and eventually Raleigh International. Maintaining its adventurous spirit and commitment to youth leadership, Raleigh now supports projects such as encouraging job skills or putting youth at the heart of water sanitation and environmental initiatives. Elisa Schmidt – 24 – spent six months in Nicaragua as a team leader.
IF YOU HAVE EVER THOUGHT OF VOLUNTEERING, DO IT! You won’t regret it. After finishing my Master’s and having never done a gap year, I felt like I had missed out on some unbelievable experiences such as living off the grid and working on one-of-a-kind projects. Luckily, my late night job searches led me to the International Citizen Service (ICS) website and later on, to Raleigh International. ICS offers volunteer and team leader positions in numerous countries around the world to work on sustainable development projects with partner organizations. I applied to be a team leader because I wanted to gain work experience. Following some initial team leader training in the UK, I found myself - four months later – on a plane to Nicaragua. It was incredibly daunting at first. I had no idea what to expect. Would I be able to complete the project? Would my Spanish be good enough to communicate with all my volunteers and project partners? Would there be a lot of bugs? Would I be a good leader for my team…? However, looking back now, there was really nothing to worry about. Once all the team leaders from Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the U.K. had arrived in Masaya, a city in western Nicaragua, we received two weeks of intense
training from Raleigh staff and acquired a much more in-depth sense of what we needed to do. Of course, everything would change once we got to our communities, but the training really helped us relax about the tasks ahead.
PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE The first community I lived in was called Wascasoni. It was located 4km up a steep hill in the highland department of Madriz of northwestern Nicaragua near the border with Honduras. It was absolutely beautiful up there, even though there was no flat ground. I only walked around completely out of breath. I also lived with an amazing host family, who really made me feel like their daughter. Onergio (my host dad) is the leader of Wascasoni and strives to make his community more economically prosperous, environmentally-friendly and more connected to its indigenous (Chorotega) roots. Over the past few years, the region has been plagued by incessant drought. This has led to increased unemployment and diminished access to nutritious food. Consequently, our job as volunteers was to promote entrepreneurship
among young people in the community so that they could support themselves and their families through constantly changing circumstances. The young people we met were unbelievable. Every single one was incredibly motivated to start their own business. They not only wanted to support their families, but also to see their community prosper. Katya, for instance, was only 14 years old but had already started plans to set up a bakery. Her reasoning was that it could increase her family’s income and reduce community members’ travelling time to buy bread. The closest market was one hour away by foot. So buying food could take a lot of time and energy. Raleigh funded her business in the end,
Volunteer team leader Elisa Schmidt with young friend.
so I can’t wait to see her achieve her goals – I know that she’ll do everything she set out to achieve. We also had the opportunity to speak to community members on a daily basis, which really gave us an insight into their lives and their histories. A lot of people spoke to us about the war from the 1960s and 1970s and about Hurricane Mitch, which had ravaged numerous homes and rendered many of them homeless. During the second stage of my six-month volunteer project, I lived in another community, San Jose de Palmira, also located in the northwest. This was actually a housing project built to help people who had lost everything after the hurricane. Families could apply for a house and, if they were successful, they would be able to live rent free and become property owners after 10 years. Many praised this project initiated by the Institute of Human Promotion (INPRHU) because it allowed families to escape poverty.
WOMEN: BACKBONES OF THE COMMUNITY One of the women recounted how, right after the hurricane which had destroyed her home, she was forced to move to a more expensive place with her husband and three children. As a result, she had to wake up every morning at 2 am to cook breakfast for her family so that she could leave for work at five at the coffee mill, where she would do a 12-hour shift before going to school in the evenings. She would only get home at 9 pm, cook dinner and then catch only two or three hours sleep. Now, she is able to work with a women’s cooperative in the community and take care of her family within normal working hours. In addition, as she doesn’t pay rent, she is able to save more money. Such stories taught us volunteers a lot, especially the strength and dedication of the women in our communities. They are really the backbone of every household. They’re the ones in charge of pretty much everything, especially cooking. Everyday, they make three meals for their families, which usually consists of corn tortillas, a variation of beans and rice and plantain. They also make coffee and fetch massive barrels of water – roughly 20kg
– by putting these on their heads and walking up and down the steep hills. For starters, their physical strength is incredible. I could not manage to carry a barrel of water up the hill during the entire six months I was in Nicaragua. To the amusement of my host family, I had to buy a smaller water canister at the market so that I could carry it from the well back to the house every day. The women are also excellent multi-taskers as they often take care of the children, do the laundry, run a business and go to school all in one day. My host mother Cendys is 25 with two children Luis, six, and Elijas, two. She has recently started a bakery and has become famous for her delicious cakes, which she sells to almost every house for special occasions. For Mother’s Day last year, she received 25 cake requests and did them all within 12 hours. She also studies accounting every Saturday so that she can expand her business and keep track of her finances. Overall, I think that although we were in Nicaragua to teach young people about entrepreneurship, we were really the ones who learned the most. We became more aware of what life is like for most of these people and the lengths they will go for their families and especially, for their children. We also saw the effects of climate change on rural communities. This has been one of the most important lessons. A lot of my British volunteers had mentioned this point to me. They said that it was the first time that they really understood how such changes could affect other lives. Most pledged to reduce their carbon footprints by driving less, cutting back on meat and reducing their electricity consumption. On a lighter note- after encountering daily bugs bigger than my fist, and having a meter- long snake fall from a tree onto my head while walking down a village path, I also managed to rid myself of a longstanding phobia against creepy crawling spiders, snakes and insects, which, for me, is an amazing feat in itself.
Elisa Schmidt is an American-German national from the Lake Geneva region. She currently lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand.
GENEVA’S CELESTIAL SPHERE –
More than just a symbol of peace
On the eve of World War II, the League of Nations began installing a steel and bronze globe symbolizing international peace in front of the Palais des Nations buildings overlooking Lake Geneva. A day later, on 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Hitler’s blitz attack, which lasted barely five weeks, launched a worldwide conflict in which between 50 and 85 million people lost their lives (mostly civilians in the Soviet Union and China). Eighty years later, the United Nations is now restoring this highly emblematic work of art. American historic preservationist Robert A. Enholm, the heritage expert on the project, recounts the sculpture’s remarkable story. THE “CELESTIAL SPHERE” IS A LARGE STEEL AND BRONZE outdoor sculpture located on the campus of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. Readily recognized as a symbol both of the UN and the “International Geneva” community, it has endured the wear and tear of nearly 80 Swiss winters. This historic work of art is now in the process of being restored to its original glory and, it is hoped, to serve as an ongoing emblem of world peace despite the numerous wars and humanitarian crises that continue to plague the planet. The restoration work has been funded by an anonymous donation, and the project is expected to be complete by September 2019, in time for a celebration of the centennial of the founding of the U.N.’s predecessor, the League of Nations, in the aftermath of World War I.
CLOSELY TIED TO THE HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS Created by American artist Paul H. Manship (18851966) and cast in Italy, the Celestial Sphere represents the heavens as seen from Earth in the form of an “armillary sphere”, an ancient tool used in many cultures to demonstrate the revolution of planets or stars. Manship intended the Celestial Sphere to rotate on an axis, and part of the restoration project is to restore that original mechanical rotation. The sculpture itself is over four metres in diameter and presents 64 cast bronze figures of characters from ancient mythology representing constellations. These include the 12 symbols of the Zodiac, such as Scorpio, Sagittarius and Taurus, but also other constellations ranging from Ursa Major and Orion to the Southern Cross. The artist placed 840 silver-gild stars with astronomical accuracy on the work. The intended visual effect is for the viewer to see the constellations and innumerable stars spinning in the sky overhead.
The Celestial Sphere is closely tied to the history of the League of Nations, which although lasting barely two decades serves as the basis for the UN that we know today. The sculpture was installed in 1939 to crown the Cour d’Honneur at the just completed Palais des Nations, the classical-style world headquarters of the League which was built between 1929 and 1938. Various governments and institutions donated artwork or fixtures to help with the construction and decoration of the building. The Celestial Sphere itself was a gift of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, which operated from 1921 to 1993 to perpetuate the humanistic ideals of American President Woodrow Wilson (1956-1924). The sculpture’s purpose was to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the League’s founding and to honor the leadership of Woodrow Wilson, who received the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts establishing the League. Officially referred to as the “Celestial Sphere – Woodrow Wilson Memorial,” Manship’s masterpiece reflects his renowned Art Deco style. The “v Fountain” at the Rockefeller Center in New York, for example, is one of his best-known works. At a time when the United States controversially had not joined the League of Nations, this project was a tangible connection between New York and Geneva. Manship’s art often embraces the modernization of classical Greek, Roman and other ancient sculptural forms. The American artist was engaged to design the Celestial Sphere in 1935 and worked for nearly five years on the project, traveling to Geneva to see the Palais des Nations under construction and contracting a foundry in Florence, Italy, to cast the sculpture. Manship worked closely with Italian artist and foundryman Bruno Bearzi (1894-1983) to bring the Celestial Sphere into creation. Bearzi was later knighted by the Italian king in recognition of his efforts to save and restore Italian sculpture and other works of art during and following the World War II.
Celestial Sphere overlooking Geneva. [PHOTO: Global Geneva]
AN IRONIC SYMBOL OF PEACE ON THE ONSET OF GLOBAL WAR Bearzi and his crew installed the Celestial Sphere literally as World War II began. The completed sculpture, weighing about 6,100 kilograms (over 6.7 tons) was shipped by train from Florence to Geneva. As with any complex project, the completion and delivery of this sculpture were postponed several times. Finally, the sculpture was loaded at the foundry and taken to the train station in Florence, arriving in Geneva three days later, on Wednesday, 30 August 1939. “What a most extraordinary coincidence, and almost a sardonic one,” wrote Arthur Sweetzer, an American employee of the League of Nations in Geneva, in a letter dated 1 September 1939 to Hamilton F. Armstrong, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in New York. “The Woodrow Wilson Memorial is being put in place on the League of Nations grounds as the next World War is just breaking out.” Sweetzer correctly saw Germany’s invasion of Poland that day as the thunderclap announcing the beginning of World War II. Sweetzer, who later went on to help create the International Baccalaureate (IB) education programme, noted with remarkable foresight that, “while the human family is tragically demonstrating that it has not yet risen to the level of Woodrow Wilson’s ideals, it had set into motion a movement that would eventually come into its
own. The experience of these past twenty years will not have been lost; bitter though the present situation is, the new Peace Conference will at last start off ahead of where the previous one started.” In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the UN was created on 24 October 1945, based on the experience and lessons learned from the League of Nations. As with any work of art, the Celestial Sphere is open to many interpretations. I imagine that the artist, in presenting the seemingly infinite and immutable universe, is summoning our humility and demanding to know why, in the face of this majesty, we cannot achieve world peace. The physical conservation of this work of art is also an opportunity to restore the Celestial Sphere as a symbol of international cooperation and humanity’s enduring aspiration for peace. In an era in which the international community has set forth its 2030 Sustainability Agenda, and the related 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Celestial Sphere and its message can be embraced not only by the UN and International Geneva, but also by the people across the globe who work and dream to make world peace a practical reality.
Robert A. Enholm is under contract to the United Nations Office at Geneva and has served as a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and as Executive Director of the President Woodrow Wilson House museum, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. The opinions expressed in this article are his own. 61
Adapting to survive
PHOTOGRAPHY: ©Carl-Johan Utsi
Reindeer husbandry by the semi-nomadic Sámi people goes back 2000 years. As social anthropologist Majken Paulsen writes, although these these Lapland people are resilient and highly adaptive, change is happening fast and becoming untenable. Many find their ability to survive is being constantly put to the test. LOOKING TOWARDS SÁPMI (OR LAPLAND), we find the cultural homeland of the Sámi people, Europe’s northernmost indigenous population. Sápmi stretches from the Barents Sea to the White Sea across four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. As with many native people of the Arctic, the Sámi have hunted wild reindeer for thousands of years. In the 1500s, they began domesticating these caribou-like animals, becoming the nomadic herders we know today. Reindeer herding differs from traditional husbandry in that the Sámi animals are semi-domesticated, meaning that they roam free in the wild for most of the year. There they can behave naturally in an environment to which they are genetically adapted, while their herders protect them from harm. From a mainland European perspective, the area of northern Fennoscandia is revered for its pristine landscape, a veritable “wilderness”. For those practising their traditional livelihoods, however, it is simply “home”.
Contrary to popular belief, Scandinavian reindeer husbandry is not unstructured and “wild”. It involves a wide range of actors inhabiting a well-traversed and intimate terrain, with overlapping territorial practices and disputed claims to the same resources as southern industries. Yet flexibility has long defined Sámi reindeer management. The Siida, a versatile cooperative unit traditionally organized through kinship relations, provides the necessary structure for each herding district. Throughout the year, herders combine and divide pasture, personnel and animals in order to reduce pressure on the land and to achieve the optimum relationship among humans, animals and nature itself. To the chagrin of many Sámi, new legislation, physical barriers, human development, pasture regulations and climate change are increasingly challenging this traditional flexibility. This is tragically leading to conflicts between herders and the rest of society as pastures are
encroached upon in the name of ‘development’. For example, Nasa Mountain, an ore-rich highland in the Norwegian-Swedish borderland, is known primarily for its silver mine. For the Sámi, the Nasa Silver Mine evokes painful memories. With its creation in 1635, the mine conscripted their ancestors to work as part of its operations. As there were no roads connecting the mountain to civilization, the Sámi were forced use their reindeer to transport silver ore from the mine to its smelting site. The working conditions for both humans and animals were harsh, leading many to flee. Today, already well into the 21st century, Nasa Mountain investors are once again planning to reopen the area for mining, but this time on the Norwegian side. The Oslo government has granted the necessary permits to open a quartz excavation operation in an area currently home to 25,000 Norwegian and Swedish reindeer. Every spring, reindeer herds migrate from both countries towards Nasa Mountain to give birth to new offspring. Once the animals have calved, their numbers rise to over 40,000 reindeer. Whenever confronted with environmental difficulties in the past, such as poor pastures or threats from predators, Sámi herders often simply relocated their animals. But today, modern pasture law requires that each herding group remains within its own defined geographic area. Such rules imposed by distant legislators, who may not fully understand local needs or the intricacies of reindeer husbandry, ultimately leave herders with drastically fewer adaptive choices. “If the mine opens, it is the end for many herders in the area, as our sacred calving land will be disturbed. The mine will scare away the reindeer, the migratory routes will be blocked and we have no other areas to relocate to,” said Olof Anders Kuhmunen, a reindeer herder, said in an interview with NRK, the national Norwegian broadcaster). Overall, modern Sámi reindeer husbandry has tended to expand and evolve with relative success in line with the rest of society. This includes coping with sometimes significant and disruptive changes brought about by technological development. As far as the herders are concerned, their paramount concern remains – just as it did hundreds of years ago – the well-being of their animals. Nevertheless, it remains a mounting struggle. Given that the climate is changing faster in the
Arctic than in any other region of the world, the Sámi herders may be obliged to embrace even more radical adaptation practices in order to survive. As already evident, arctic ecosystems, characterized by low biodiversity and highly specialized species, are potentially far more vulnerable to ecological disruptions caused by warming temperatures and seasonal variations. These are likely to push the geographic boundaries of infectious diseases and introduce new host species and pathogens that can inflict increased morbidity on both humans and animals. For the moment, the specifics of such impacts are little known. Reindeer herders, veterinarians and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority all agree that the health conditions of today’s semi-domesticated herds are generally good. However, based on earlier descriptions of epizootic disease outbreaks in both domesticated and wild reindeer, new diseases can have devastating effects on their populations. The good health of today’s reindeer populations is attributed largely to their ability to roam large areas throughout most of the year. The “wilderness” is their health insurance; it keeps these animals strong and well. As a result, the Sami herders have fought – and are still fighting – with governments, international companies and local developers for the rights of their animals. As a struggle for land, culture and livelihood, the outcome of this conflict is critical. Their future depends on it.
Majken Paulsen is a PhD student at Nord University, whose work is part of the Nordforsk-funded Nordic Centre of Excellence project, CLINF (Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases and the Impact on Northern Societies). This multidisciplinary research group investigates the effects of climate change on the geographic distribution and epidemiology of infectious diseases, including how they impact humans and animals in northern societies.
POLAR FOCUS: BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
BUSINESS IN THE ARCTIC:
infrastructure or investment — which comes first? Plutarch’s chicken or the egg conundrum, formulated in the first century of our era, is commonly stated as: which came first: the chicken or the egg? The dilemma stems from the observation that all chickens hatch from eggs and all chicken eggs are laid by chickens. But as Nauja Bianco writes, when it comes to business and development in the Arctic, it is somewhat the same. ON 22 MAY 2018 A MEETING TOOK PLACE between the Arctic Economic Council, business and regional stakeholders in Sweden as well as the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Trade Department. The agenda was “business opportunities in the Arctic”. It was not an exceptional meeting but shows that there is gradually more and more emphasis on business in the Arctic. Three immediate take-aways were: a need for infrastructure, infrastructure, and infrastructure – as well as more cross-border collaboration (without barriers) and more job mobility. A private equity firm, Guggenheim, has estimated infrastructure needs at $1 billion. But what kind? Well, all types: from the traditional types, such as roads, ports and airstrips to newer ones required for telecommunications and the provision of broadband. But the infrastructure needs also depend on the eye of the beholder. Some see the Nordic Arctic countries as well equipped in infrastructure and privileged to have a Nordic welfare system backing up the region’s (economic) development. Others argue that the welfare system is hindering private initiative. The North American Arctic, they say, has potentially much more drive and available equity investment, both from private sources, and those already in place. However, if you ask businesses, they would say that investment is lacking. And if you ask the investment suppliers, they would say that it is bankable projects that are missing. At a seminar organized by the Danish Confederation of Industries’ Arctic Cluster of Raw Materials (ACRW) in April 2018 the head of the group observed that this is a region struggling to answer whether it is investment that leads to infrastructure development, or infrastructure
development that makes investment attractive. So, which comes first? What such arguments show is that the Arctic needs to strike a balance between the two approaches: it needs a public-private partnership (PPP) approach unique to the Arctic’s four million inhabitants of whom roughly 400,000 are indigenous.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: MORE THAN JUST ONE TECHNOLOGY At the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska, in May 2017, a report by the Task Force on Telecommunications in the Arctic maintained that no single technology alone will meet all telecommunications needs in the Arctic. The best technology (or combination of technologies) for any specific case, it noted, depends on geography, infrastructure in place, users’ needs, and many other factors. This, among other things, shows that rule number one when planning in and for the Arctic is that the region cannot be viewed as a single entity. It is several, each with individual and specific characteristics. In Greenland, for example, a sea cable has been established for large parts of the territory (and an extension will be taking place shortly) for broadband access, while Nunavut – the newest, largest and northernmost territory of Canada – does not have broadband at all. Developing telecommunications infrastructure in the Arctic will require work by, and cooperation among, a constellation of different actors in the public and private sectors. The efforts should continue to include research
PHOTOGRAPHY © Icelandic Tourism Office
institutions, the public sphere and private industry. However, there is no doubt that providing a more up-to-date, adequate, and affordable access to the World Wide Web would improve the potential for doing business in the Arctic. Private investors as well as telecommunications companies, should view this as an emerging market and good business, while showing patience and a collaborative spirit towards inhabitants of the Arctic.
INVESTMENT AND BANKING OUTLOOK FOR THE ARCTIC The two major lenders in a Nordic and European context, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), are already active in the region. They say they have the capacity to lend more, particularly in infrastructure and telecommunication, where private investors need more time and patience to see profit. But Arctic investments are not high risk, says Stephen Hart, head of EIB’s Copenhagen office. The reason why private funding is scarce is that projects are often not commercial. NIB set aside €500 million to invest in the region in 2015. It is heavily focused on areas such as energy and transport, as well as on small and medium-sized enterprises that might otherwise have trouble obtaining funding. So far it has loaned only €25m. Yet among private investors, as Stefan Friðriksson of the NIB put it, rather than reaping first-mover benefits, they want to avoid firstmover risk.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP (AND EDUCATION) There’s an indication that private funding is scarce due to few commercial projects. Is the Arctic witnessing a shortage of good and innovative ideas, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial drive? Is the Arctic lacking
first movers, start-ups, micro-scale companies and SMEs along with people ready to do the hard work? Or is it that investing in the Arctic may not be that risky, but it just is not attractive if you want to earn large profits quickly? In January 2018 the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Arctic Cooperation Program launched an “Arctic Business Analysis” with an emphasis on four areas. One was “entrepreneurship and innovation” (the three others being “bio-economy”, “PPPs and business cooperation” and “culture and creative industries”). The sub-report on entrepreneurship and innovation showed that there is room to nurse entrepreneurial awareness and ability in the Arctic countries and that this can be facilitated through an increased focus on integrating entrepreneurship education into national strategies and that implementation of such education should go through local initiatives and local operators. So, maybe investment in entrepreneurship, innovation and talent development should take place in and for the Arctic simultaneously with the more traditional investment in, for example, infrastructure and telecommunications. Regardless of which line is taken and whether investments are carried out in alignment or not, there is no doubt that collaboration between the actors and regions of the Arctic should be strengthened to create critical mass, exploit comparative advantages and implement an organized approach – even when they have different interests.
Nauja Bianco is a “global Greenlander”, freelance journalist and owner of Isuma Consulting based in Toronto, Canada. In her extensive career she has had positions in the Government of Greenland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and in the intergovernmental organization of the Nordic Council of Ministers all dealing with international relation especially around Greenland and the Arctic.
SWITZERLAND’S GREEN BIKE TRAILS
© Swiss Tourism
Les Voies Vertes
Switzerland is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, but for those living and working here, it’s often easy to overlook it in the day-to-day rush of work, home and school. But as Janet Hill writes, do yourself a favour and slow down a bit, look around and breathe it all in. What better time than in summer? THE BEST WAY I KNOW OF TAKING IT ALL IN is to get on a bike and hit the greenways, known in the francophone part of the country as les voies vertes. They are also known in parts of Europe as veloroutes. The idea was hatched when planners wanted to find a way of putting defunct railway lines back into use. The idea was to turn them into paths that are dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians, without the nuisance or danger presented by automobiles. The first voie verte was completed in Burgundy in the 1980s and runs from Macon in the south through Chalon-sur-Saône and northward. In the intervening years, hundreds of kilometres of veloroutes have been added across continental Europe and are easily accessible if you know where to look. In fact, one in particular, part of the Eurovelo system, goes through the Swiss Jura and continues all the way to the Danube. Most parts of Switzerland have greenways, usually well-marked, but there are still parts which have been only partially developed, such as the bike routes along and above Lake Geneva. Many communes, such as in and around Basel or the Chateau d’Oex-Gstaad-Zweisimmen area are now incorporating bike lanes with separate pistes rather than simply painting corridors along main roads. The same
goes for the Valais, Graubünden and Ticino, where bike routes meander through fruit orchards and vineyards or along rivers.
REAL VOIES VERTES REQUIREMENTS: SAFETY, SPACE AND EASY GRADIENTS. The key to the real voies vertes is that they adhere to strict requirements that ensure that cyclists of all calibres can safely enjoy them. For example, to qualify as part of the official route, they have to be a minimum of three metres wide so cyclists can ride abreast and oncoming cyclists can pass without crowding. There is also a limit to how steep a grade can be, with the average along a given length not to exceed 3 per cent. Given that they are usually built on old railway lines, most of them are pretty flat. The more travelled routes are paved, although this isn’t necessarily the rule. Sometimes you’ll find packed gravel instead, but even these are generally well maintained and make for comfortable riding. When the route traverses a road, they are required to have barriers and signage to indicate that it’s time to slow down or stop, and check the surroundings before proceeding.
But be prepared to share the road with other non-motorized users. You’ll find joggers, parents with strollers, and even the occasional in-line skater taking advantage of the long-distance route. Choosing some of the less popular routes means that you will often find yourself riding for hours seeing virtually no one except the occasional farmer.
TRIP PLANNING You don’t need to be an athlete, and certainly don’t need a wardrobe of Lycra to get started. A good solid road or mountain bike will suffice as long as it’s in good working order. A lamp for your bike is a good idea in case you find yourself losing track of time, as is a good supply of water and snacks. That said, most routes wind through villages
and towns, and there’s usually a restaurant waiting to be discovered just around the corner. Some advice on planning: pack a lightweight backpack with a rainproof shell, sun cream and water, as well as a few snacks, a map and a phone. Be sure to have ID in case you’ll be crossing borders, and don’t forget a sense of humour, which will stand you in good stead in case of anything unexpected. Think about safety, too. Always wear a helmet and invest in a pair of riding gloves to protect your knuckles. Don’t feel that you need to cycle from end to end. Particularly if you haven’t been on a bike lately or have a young family along, plan a short trip and work your way up.
Janet Hill lives in the Lake Geneva Region.
The following is an excerpt from the short story ‘American Lottery’ by award-winning author Gazmend M. Kapllani. He was born in Albania but then left for Greece after the fall of the Enver Hoxha regime where he remained for 20 years. Kapllani’s writing centres on themes of migration and minorities, borders, totalitarianism, and how Balkan history has shaped public and private narratives and memories. “American Lottery” is a collection of inter-connected short stories about today’s America through the eyes of Albanian immigrants, of those who made it across the Atlantic Ocean, and of others who failed. Kapllani now lives in the United States.
American Lottery by Gazmend M. Kapllani
The American Embassy showed itself to us in the form of a huge yellow building with a huge American flag waving on the top. Three times we were interviewed by three different gentlemen. Their eyes examined us the way that doctors look at patients who are struck by some terminal disease. During the examinations they were assisted by the same translator, a short Albanian man around fifty, with small ears like dried Turkish figs and scarce hair on his head. Outside the Embassy there was a huge line of people with thin bodies, wrinkled faces and eyes that looked like cracked porcelain cups, waiting to hear their names and cross the fateful gate of the Embassy. Next to the gate stood a few Albanian policemen who kept the long line absolutely even and straight. Their blue and red hats were, for some inexplicable reason, always bigger than their heads. Every time we exited the Embassy, after being interviewed, some of the people would leave the line and ask us questions like: “did the Americans ask difficult questions?” “did the Americans ask if you have a bank account?”. Usually my father would answer the questions in a military style, with short, sharp sentences. Three months after the three interviews the mailman brought us another white envelope. Mother took it in her hands and opened it with the tense and attentive gestures of a bomb expert. My father and I hung on her every word. She read it and she smiled like someone who had survived a death sentence. After a month, she announced, two gentlemen from the American Embassy would pay us a visit. This was our last test on our way to America. The first wave of joy past, my parents gathered in a corner of the sitting room, in a safe distance from me, trying to decode the meaning of the upcoming visit, whether there was something insidious behind it. The devil lies in the details, my mother said. The conclusion was drawn though that the visit meant something particularly good. It meant that only the width of a hair now separated us from America. The visit of the two unknown gentleman incarnated the very width of the hair. My mother was convinced that the two gentlemen were coming to us in order to gather evidence that we deserved to live in America, that is, that we were living in Albania according to “civilized patterns”. My father felt somehow vexed for the fact that our civilized way of life was put into question. My mother though saw the whole thing in
mathematical terms. She was convinced that this was the last equation to solve and our last test to pass. America, she declared triumphantly, was now in our hands. She raised her right hand and clenched its fingers like she wanted to imprison the dream of America in her fist. The next day my mother’s enthusiasm shifted suddenly to panic. She looked around the house and felt that it was stripped of objects and symbols that would make us sympathetic to the eyes of our unknown American examiners. “If we don’t prepare properly for the visit we will fail America” she said. A whole day, from dawn to dusk, my parents discussed, argued, agreed, disagreed and agreed again on some basic steps to take in order to win the hearts and minds of our American examiners. My uncle would serve as our unofficial adviser in this supreme endeavour. - “You should have a puppy. It’s the first indicator of a civilized life” - my uncle told my father. - “We had never had a puppy” - my father answered. - “Get one then!” - said my uncle. My mother found the idea of the puppy plausible. In any case it won’t harm our positive outlook, she said. Without wasting time, my parents launched themselves in the search of a puppy. Stray dogs were all over the place in our small town. Dirty and hungry they wandered around the rusty and overwhelmed trash bins, wagging their long tails, fiercely fighting against each other in the middle of the day or doggedly making love in the dead of night. They seemed seriously irritated by the sudden multiplication of private cars in the narrow and bumpy streets of our town. Private cars were not allowed during communism and after its fall they were popping up like mushrooms after the rain. We didn’t need a dog like those stray uncivilized dogs. What we needed was a dog of special breed, clean, beautiful and civilized. My parents started visiting friendly and not so friendly houses and at the end of their one-week search they looked themselves like defeated stray dogs in the middle of the cold winter. No dog that would match my uncle’s description was to be found in our town.
Luck though had decided to be on our side again. The next morning my mother was woken up by a phone call. Someone on the other side of the line told her that a dog fulfilling every inch of my parents’ requirements was finally found. After a couple of hours the specific dog was brought on a leash to our house by a middle-aged lady whose big sunglasses made her look like a gigantic wasp. The dog was an all white poodle, small, smart, nervous, oval eyes, long ears, round head. A spark of enthusiasm ignited my parents eyes and hearts. Soon afterwards a shadow of terror covered their faces when they learned the name of the dog: Stalin. The dog did belong to an old inveterate communist who had passed away a few days ago. He had named the dog Stalin in honour of his beautiful days spent in Moscow during the period Stalin was dying and he was falling in love with a beautiful Russian woman whom he married afterwards. My parents stood silent looking at the dog as though they were looking at the ghost of Stalin himself. Suddenly the woman with the wasp-like face said: “In order to solve the problem successfully you could rename it Stallone.” The idea struck my parents’ brain like a thunderbolt. From Stalin to Stallone was a relatively easy transition, they said. The dog would adjust to his new name very soon. Why shouldn’t he? It seemed like a smart dog. They bargained the price with the lady (I never found out how much the dog did cost us) and took the dog. Stalloneex-Stalin entered our lives with grace and a lot of peeing that caught our family unprepared, therefore causing a new wave of panic in the house. The next few days were spent mainly learning how to tame the shitty world of a dog. At the end, Stallone-ex-Stalin generously rewarded our efforts. Furthermore, he seemed to appreciate my parents’ efforts to make him feel at home and revealed an impressive inclination to collaboration. He gladly and quickly forgot his former name, “Stalin”, and embraced his new name “Stallone”, never showing signs of nostalgia or identity crises. *** The moment that Stallone-ex-Stalin entered our lives I started dating Beti. We were in the same class in high school, both fifteen and both thirsty for those half-unconscious games of gender-roles. We always sat on the last school bench and often exchanged glances without saying anything. Every time I looked in her eyes I felt my heart transformed in a cascade. I liked how she squinted, how she touched her nose, how she moved her hands. I liked her legs. She always wore straight jeans that her father had sent her from Italy where he had immigrated two years ago. We would meet after class and walk to the “Tobacco Warehouse” – a deserted place with no tobacco and no warehouse on the outskirts of our town. Only the town’s cemetery was there. We sat on a broken bench under a solitary cypress tree in front of the cemetery and smoked cigarettes in silence. “Marlboro Lights”. Only here we could feel safe to smoke, away from the eyes of the grownups. While smoking we would talk about her father in Italy,
her quarrelsome mother, my anxious parents, our new dog, my mother’s pies and the upcoming visit of the two unknown gentlemen from the American Embassy. “America. America” – she would repeat almost absentmindedly, sucking her cigarette with grace, like she was trying to recall the name of a forgotten place or repeating some magic formula. I liked how her lips pronounced “America”, I liked how her lips sucked the cigarette, I liked how her lips emanated small plumes of smoke that seemed like the fog of fairytales. Neither of us had ever traveled abroad. She liked Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. I liked Robert DeNiro in “Once Upon A Time In America”. Klodi would say that she wanted to become an actress one day. Then she hoped her father would take her and her mother to Italy soon. “I would like to travel all over the world until I get very old” she would say. She always kept a map with her in her backpack and after smoking two cigarettes she would pull it out and we both would plan imaginary trips, a bit of everywhere. Bent over the map I felt her black hair touching my face and I struggled hard to hide my enchantment and agitation. “If you were free to live in another country which one would you have chosen?” – she would ask me. “Italy”, I would say. “But you’re going to live in America”, she said staring at me with her sober eyes. I would shrug my shoulders. My parents had never asked me whether I liked going to America. Everyone wanted to go to America. But I was not mad about it. I liked Italy better. It was a matter of language, perhaps. Italian sounded like a beautiful melody. English sounded like cracking nuts. She would listen to me in silence and would say: “you’re going to fall in love with English one day, you’ll see”. Then we would walk back to town, keep a safe distance from each other, chew mint gum to delete the smell of tobacco, say goodbye and go home. I watched her in secret while she walked away and I felt a kind of simultaneous ebb and tide in my chest.
Gazmend M. Kapllani is an Albanian-born polyglot author, journalist, and scholar. He lived in Athens for over twenty years. He received his PhD in political science and history from Panteion University in Athens, with a dissertation on the image of Albanians in the Greek press and of Greeks in the Albanian press. Kapllani’s first novel “A Short Border Handbook” (Livanis, Greece 2006) has been translated into several languages. It has been adapted for the stage by Bornholm Theater in Denmark and The National Theater of the Deaf in Greece. In 2017 it won the prestigious International Literary Prize of the City of Cassino in Italy. Kapllani’s two other novels, “My Name is Europe” and “The Last Page” have been translated into French; “The Last Page” was shortlisted for The Cezam Prix Litteraire Inter CE 2016. Since 2012 he has been living in the United States as a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and writer-in-residence at Brown University and Wellesley College. Also a columnist and advocate for human rights, fairness, and diversity, Kapllani currently resides in Boston teaching Creative Writing and European History at Emerson College. His new novel “Wrongland” is the story of two brothers, Karl and Frederik, raised in Cold-War Albania, under an authoritarian communist father (who named his sons after Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) and a violent Stalinist regime that had isolated the country from the outside world. 69
2018 Summer Events Art Exhibitions JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985), artist. A photographic study of the artist and his work. From 30 May to 23 September, 2018. Musée de l’Elysée Avenue de l’Elysée 18, 1006 Lausanne. ALICJA KWADE (1979-), Polish sculptor and conceptual artist. This multi-media exhibition addresses a wide range of phenomena and conceptual models from physics, philosophy and sociology. Haus Konstruktiv, Selnaustrasse 25, 8001 Zürich. HELLO ROBOT
AFRICA. ECSTATIC RELIGIONS. A journey to discover religious cultures and heritage. Magnificent objects infused with magic plus fascinating photographs that immerse you in an atmosphere of devotion and mysticism. From 18 May 2018 to 6 January 2019. Musée d’ethnographie de Genève (MEG) Boulevard Carl-Vogt 65,1205 Geneva. PIERRE SOULAGES. (1918-) Painter, engraver and sculptor associated with abstract art. French president Francois Hollande described him in 2014 as “the world’s greatest living artist. A major exhibition from 15 June to 25 November, 2018. Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Rue du Forum 59, 1920 Martigny, Valais, Switzerland.
Music & Culture INTERLAKEN CLASSIC MUSIC FESTIVAL Showcasing up and coming classical stars of tomorrow alongside leading international orchestras and soloists. From 7-9 June, 2018. Interlaken, Switzerland. ZURICH FESTIVAL. Music, opera, concerts, dance… From 1-24 June, 2018. Zurich. MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL. Paulo Conti, Zucchero, Hamza, Matthew Herbert Brexit Big Band, Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Deep Purple…From 29 June to 14 July, 2018. Montreux, Switzerland.
Design between Man and Machine. (Hello, Robot. Design zwischen Mensch und Maschine). Whether drones, sensors or Industry 4.0, robotics have entered our lives, changing the way we look at things. Design plays a central role in this. Over 200 robotic design exhibits. From 27 May to 4 November, 2018). Gewerbemuseum Winterthur, Kirchplatz 14, 8400 Winterthur, Switzerland. TERESA BURGA (1935-): Aleatory Structures. A broad retrospective of popart-like paintings, drawings and objects by this Peruvian artist. Her first exhibition in Switzerland. From 26 May to 12 August, 2018. Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Limmatstrasse 270, 8005 Zürich.
VERBIER FESTIVAL – Classical music in the heart of the Alps. From 19 July to 5 August, 2018. Verbier, Valais. 47TH FESTIVAL DE LA CITÉ. Ninety art and music events over six days merging historic monuments and contemporary artists. Over six days from 10 to 15 July, 2018. Lausanne, Switzerland. FESTIVAL MUSILAC. Pop-rock in the French Alpine Riviera, 12-15 July, 2018, Aix-les-Bains, France 43RD PALEO FESTIVAL
ROMAN SIGNER (1938-) A world-renowned artist with legendary ‘actions’ who lives in St Gallen. Sculptural transformations. From 26 May to 12 August. Kunstmuseum St.Gallen, Museumstrasse 32, 9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland. KLOSTER SKULPTUREN AUSSTELLUNG, 2018. Outdoor artwork and sculptures among the ruins of the Cluny priory at Rüeggisberg. A spectacular setting with views of Lake Thun, the Niederhorn and Niesen stretching right over to the Bernese Alps, including the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. From 22 May to 8 October, 2018. Klosterruine Rüeggisberg, Kloster 7, 3088 Rüeggisberg, Switzerland.
Depeche Mode, Lenny Gravitz, Indochine, Declan McKenna, Gorillaz…From 17-22 July, 2018. Nyons, Switzerland.
VERBIER FESTIVAL – Classical music in the heart of the Alps. From 19 July to 5 August, 2018. Verbier, Valais. 47TH FESTIVAL DE LA CITÉ. Ninety art and music events over six days merging historic monuments and contemporary artists. Over six days from 10 to 15 July, 2018. Lausanne, Switzerland. FESTIVAL MUSILAC. Pop-rock in the French Alpine Riviera, 12-15 July, 2018, Aix-les-Bains, France
Innovative VIRTUAL SWITZERLAND ANNUAL CONFERENCE, ZURICH. Two days of immersive technologies & insightful talks. Exchange with outstanding guests. 14-15 June, 2018. Microsoft Switzerland GmbH, 3 Richtistrasse, 8304 Wallisellen, Switzerland. 2018 CRYPTO VALLEY CONFERENCE ON BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY
OPEN GAMPEL POP MUSIC FESTIVAL. The Chemical Brothers, Death By Chocolate and many others. From 16-19 August 2018. Gampel, near Visp, Valais, Switzerland. GSTAAD MENHUIN MUSIC FESTIVAL & ACADEMY. One of the world’s best music gatherings. From 13 July to 1 September, 2018. Gstaad, Switzerland. LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Over 600 participants, 40+ speakers. $1,300 per ticket. Theater Casino, Zug, Switzerland. EUROPEAN GRADUATE SCHOOL SECOND ANNUAL SCIENCE COLLOQUIUM. The IoNLPT (Internet of Natural Language Processing Things) and the Future of Language. Featuring members of the Google AI and design team that sponsor “Art in the Age of Machine Intelligence”. 27 June 2018. Saas-Fe, Valais, Switzerland.
Interesting & Bizarre SUMMER COW FIGHTING FESTIVAL
Attracting over 160,000 film fans and professionals. From 1 – 11 August, 2018. Locarno, Ticino, Switzerland
LIVRES SUR LES QUAIS, MORGES BOOK FESTIVAL.
19 August 2018. Zermatt, Switzerland. FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE FRENCH RESISTANCE OF THE GLIÈRES, ANNECY. Take part in daily guided walks to learn how the ‘maquisards’ operated and received parachuted supplies from the Allies. There appear to be no organized events regarding the region’s collaborators or ‘milices’, but then, not a popular topic. From June to September, 2018. Contact the tourism office in Annecy, France. From 31 August to 2 September, Morges, Switzerland. MÉDIATHÈQUE FESTIVAL DU LIVRE SUISSE/SWISS BOOK FESTIVAL - Terre de Voyage. (See our report on the 2017 edition). From 21 to 23 September, 2018. Sion, Valais.
EVIAN F1H2O U.I.M. World Speed Boat Championship. Watch from the Quai Paul-Léger on the lakeside of town from 29 June to 1 July, 2018. Evian, France. FÊTE DES VIGNERONS (Wine festival), Vevey: Takes place once every 20 years. Switzerland’s most unique wine festival. From 27 to 11 August, 2018. Vevey.
YOUTH JOURNALISM IN SCHOOLS:
Helping young people understand and create credible information
Education, we hope, will make our children better people. How does it achieve that? As educator Ian Smith observes, we teach the young to be empathetic, to listen to others, to understand how to communicate, to be ethical in their actions, to consider both sides of an argument, to adapt to the changing world around them, and to view it through a different lens. IN SCHOOL NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES, YOUNGSTERS today are engaged in producing quality journalism that has become vital to communities worldwide. On my own campus, at the International School of Geneva, students produce their own publication, interview globallyrenowned speakers and write brilliant, insightful articles. Youth journalism is a window on the issues and ideas that will shape their communities and their times. As educators, however, we need to become more involved. The same goes for journalists themselves, who need to work more closely with schools. And likewise parents. Not only is there a need to support these young journalists to report stories that interest them, but it also highlights an opportunity to use such youth-produced news to generate dialogue and awareness among others from diverse cultures across the global community.
MAKING YOUTH JOURNALISM AN INTEGRAL COMPONENT OF EDUCATION Online technology has made journalism more interactive and participatory for the local, national and global audience with the expansion to web-based versions, reaching out to the world to shape narratives and impact communities. Using online technology, young journalists can go beyond just reporting news to interacting and discussing their stories with their peers in different corners of the world. By including cross-cultural interactions and discussions as an integral component of youth journalism, educators can make the news more relevant and better prepare youth for global citizenship in the wider context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During this revolution of accessibility and speed of transfer, information overload and the possibilities of digital manipulation of content are a real and present danger. It is important that young people are taught old school journalistic ethics and new school multimedia technologies to enable them to communicate the world’s stories with integrity, effectiveness, and comprehensive coverage. From the classroom to the newsroom to the boardroom, ethical behaviours must prevail for the health of our democracy from Geneva to Wellington. There would be no democracy without real journalism; it provides the facts needed to make educated decisions. Most people lack the access, time, or training to find the answers to questions that keep the world going. Properly trained journalists are the guardians of truth in a time that many people are too apathetic to care. 72
THE DESTRUCTIVE AND POSITIVE ROLES OF LANGUAGE
Language fluctuates with our health, functioning as an indicator of our well-being. The vibrancy of language is a signal that the soul is utterly alive to the world. When we are unwell physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we migrate inwards. We communicate less, and may eventually retreat into silence, like the child who is being intimidated or bullied at school. Language itself becomes sparser, more obscure; we tend to hide our pain behind a few well-chosen words, to take the time to heal. When we re-join the vibrant world, we re-join it first with words: we talk more, we return calls, we describe in more detail – speech after silence. An altogether different phenomenon takes place in public life. Paradoxically, when the world is well, news and language can appear bland. In recent years, public discourse has been deteriorating. Inflamed, disrespectful language is widespread. The language used gives a deep sense that our well-being as a people is in question: we live in a society where few have too much, most have too little, and everyone in power is in a perpetual conflict for the attention of the majority with populist rhetoric, stoking fear and uncertainty. Reading tweets from the highest office of power or watching the news that would inflame every conflict on earth just to get a headline that pays with ratings all contribute toward removing the notion of temperate, moderate language. At deeper levels, language is a barometer that constantly measures the health of a culture. The words we are being fed – from news to advertising, to cheap TV shows that play at people’s delusions, to political slogans – are well-chosen and calibrated for very specific psychological effects. As with harvesting data, they tend to yield the most financial rewards. Language is, after all, a construct, and a means of communication. Could it not be calibrated for a sense of balance, and reason, and calm? A journalist’s first and most important responsibility is to inform the public. What is published has to be accurate, factual and objective at all times. This information is the lens to our humanity, opening up the world to our fellow humans, exposing sources and objectivity. In the search for truth, journalists expose themselves to emotions, trauma, shame and human vulnerabilities; their story is our shared humanity, their efforts guided by a moral compass and neutrality that overrides all emotion. As AI and machine learning envelopes our world, this most human of professions, defined by ethical conviction and honesty, is fundamental to education in our schools and purpose for our world. It is not a subject of entertainment or sensationalism.
Ian Smith currently teaches at the International School of Geneva. He has taught Economics and Business Management for more than 20 years and was previously responsible in the UK for pupil care and character development.
Reporting International Switzerland & Beyond