‘You did not act in time’: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs

Greta Thunberg took her climate message to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Tuesday. The 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist told a packed room that her future and the futures of her fellow children had been ‘sold’.

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

Read entire post ‘You did not act in time’: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs | Greta Thunberg | The Guardian

Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and Radicalisin’: schools and the links to terrorism

One of the many beauties of living in a liberal, secular democratic society is the freedom to disagree and debate. There are always many sides to an issue and we have the liberty to express our opinions without the fear of being arrested. Many citizens in many countries do not have this right.

But what if there are those who disagree fundamentally with the very nature of our system of government? Must we tolerate those who seek to overthrow the democratically-elected order?

Nothing magical about democracy

“Democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”
– Winston Churchill, 1947

There is, of course, nothing magical about democracy. In the words of UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Parliament in 1947 “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

Even so, it is pretty good in my eyes. It is, of course, a work in progress as is evident through the multiple changes over time. For instance, as women were not given universal suffrage in Canada until 1918 (1940 in Quebec) it would be hard to argue that our democratic system was ‘perfect’ in 1867.

How far can critics go however?

Is it ok to advocate a complete overhaul of our democratic system, much more than going from first-past-the-post to proportional representation? What if there are those maintaining that democracy is incompatible with certain religions? What if those advocating such change are ok with achieving their goals through violent means?

A recent report in Dutch media has brought this issue to the fore. The Netherlands’ education minister has threatened to withdraw state funding from an Amsterdam Islamic secondary school accused of having terrorist links and added that “the children’s safe and democratic development cannot be guaranteed because the school is operating in parallel to society”. In other words, there are those at the school who are probably teaching the kids that democracy is irreconcilable with Islam.

We in Canada are not immune from this wonky belief

During his terrorism trial, VIA Rail plotter Chiheb Esseghaier stated often that he did not think highly of democracy and demanded in his leave for appeal that he should have been judged based on the Quran and not on the tenets of the Canadian Criminal Code. Islamist extremists reject democracy since that system of government allows humans to make and amend laws: they believe that only God has that right and will kill to make sure it happens.

I hope we are on the same page on this one. Warts and all, our democratic systems are the best we can do and must be safeguarded. We certainly cannot stand by as extremists and terrorists seek to undermine our societies under the aberrant conviction that we have it all wrong and they are going to show us how it should be done.

Interestingly, the AIVD – the Netherlands’ equivalent to CSIS – as early as 2004 wrote convincingly of the ‘threat to the democratic legal order’ from both violent and non-violent Islamist extremists. In the spirit of full disclosure, I had many exchanges with my Dutch counterparts in the mid-2000s and have them to thank for much of my own thinking on the dangers of violent and non-violent Islamist extremism to our country.

We have had our fair share of Islamist terrorist plots over the past few decades and most were foiled.

Just like in the Netherlands, this kind of threat is exactly what we have CSIS for. It states quite clearly in Section 2d) of the CSIS Act that threats to the security of Canada include “activities directed toward undermining by covert unlawful acts, or directed toward or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of government in Canada”. We have had our fair share of Islamist terrorist plots over the past few decades and it is thanks to CSIS and its partners that most were foiled.

There is, however, a bigger picture here

Are there some among us who are ok with having their children taught that democracy is evil and must be cast aside? Should this not be a line that must not be crossed? If so, are parents who become aware of the influence of extremist ideologues – either in schools or in religious institutions – brave enough to denounce these efforts and seek outside assistance where necessary? I do hope so.

To my knowledge this is not a huge problem in Canada and I do not want to leave the impression that there is a ‘fifth column’ of anti-democratic terrorists poised to strike. No, the threat is not zero but neither is there evidence I am aware of that it is significant or on a national scale.

At the same time we need to call out those who want to take down our democracy. For better or worse, it is our system of government and it warrants protection.

A child-friendly approach to urban planning

Children living in informal settlements in areas of rapid urbanisation are severely affected by a lack of basic services, inadequate living conditions, and limited opportunities for individual and community growth.

A child-centred approach is required to ensure their needs and constraints are included in decision-making and planning. As part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Programme, Arup is assisting the municipality of Salvador in Brazil to develop a child-centred approach to resilience building in informal settlements.

In the favela of Novos Alagados, Arup is working to improving the liveability and safety for children and their caregivers. The project is being delivered in partnership with Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Urban95 initiative and Avsi Brazil, an NGO that has been operating in the area for over 15 years.

Read more A child-friendly approach to urban planning | Sara Candiracci | 100 Resilient Cities

How bacteria can save children’s lives

For decades, undernourished infants across the world have been treated with a course of high-calorie, high-protein rich foods. The foods may come in various forms – from peanut-rich pastes to fatty milkshakes – but the common-sense philosophy is always the same: restore the most basic nutrients to the growing body as quickly as possible.

These “ready-to-use therapeutic foods” help to remove the immediate danger to the child’s life. But the battle is only half-won.

The period of undernourishment may be for just a few months, but consequences can last a lifetime. Throughout childhood and adolescence, the child will remain physically stunted and more vulnerable to infection. He or she also may show cognitive deficits, resulting in lower IQs, and reduced impulse control – which can mean falling behind at school and struggling to find employment as an adult.

Read entire article How bacteria can save children’s lives | David Robson | BBC

World Mental Health Day 2018

Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job.

For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension however. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows.

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated.Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause.

> Read entire article World Mental Health Day 2018 | World Health Organization

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How United Nations use the Minecraft video game to design public spaces in Egypt

UN-Habitat in cooperation with Megawra (The Built Environment Collective-BEC) and Cairo governorate (Cairo Heritage Preservation General Administration) organized the first Minecraft workshop in Egypt for the participatory design of an open space in Al-Khalifa neighborhood in Cairo.

Al-Khalifa neighborhood in the heritage site of Islamic Cairo is one of Egypt’s most unique areas, with estimated population of 20,085 in an area of 25,3284 m2; it’s considered one of Cairo’s most dense areas, suffering from lack of public spaces and access to basic services particularly to women and children.

Minecraft is a game where you dig (mine) and build (craft) different kinds of 3D blocks within a large world of varying terrains and habitats to explore.

I love how we can put our ideas into the game and see it come to reality

Under the framework of UN-Habitat Regional Public Space Programme, and serving SDG11 and its target “By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities” UN-Habitat is partnering with Megawra and Cairo governorate to rehabilitate an open space of 3000 m2, on two phases, in Al-Khalifa.

An area which is currently used as a garbage dump and a hub for illicit activities will be converted into a heritage and environment park for the use of the residents of the neighbourhood.

The Khalifa project, receiving a grant of 100,000$ form the global public space programme and with the guidance of UN-Habitat’s videogame expert Eugenio Gastelum, is pioneering the use of the popular Minecraft video game for the first time in Egypt as a tool to engage the community in the design process of public spaces. Around 20 community members, mainly adolescents from both genders, participated in a 3 day design workshop. “This is the first Minecraft workshop to be held in Egypt” says Safa Ashoub, Public space expert at UN-Habitat regional office for Arab states, “We are hoping to build the capacities of adolescents to be able to understand and design their public spaces and to later on utilise this useful tool for their own development” She added.

Source: UN Habitat

Business recovery should be simple enough to teach an 8-year-old

The future entrepreneurs and leaders are communicating and engaging with the world, using the technology of today. Children are smart and can learn new things very quickly.

Today’s technology is so amazing that we have instant access to information to entertain and educate ourselves; it’s in the palm of our hands.

We depend on businesses and industries to help us live. We also use them to help develop our life and family ambitions. Our livelihoods are intrinsically linked to work and the work life balance is key to all of us.

The (often dark art) subject of business resilience, business recovery, disaster recovery, business continuity management (BCM) and organizational resilience (OR), are full of complexities. Sometimes they need to be because businesses can be complicated.

But these subjects are not the easiest to explain to an adult let alone convince the future generations that resilience is needed to protect our livelihoods. The subjects are somewhat shrouded in negativity rather than positivity. That had to change and it has.

If the future generations can understand and
recognise the value of resilience in life and in
business, then there is a greater opportunity it
will happen and be achieved in the future.

If the next generations can develop resilience and recovery simpler than before, then so can the business leaders of today. 100% optimism.

Do you share Paul optimism? Do you agree with this post? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Contributor photo Paul

ABOUT THE AUTHORAn international business resilience leader, Paul Kudray is a Fellow of the EPC and a Fellow of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management (FICPEM). He is a Lead Auditor for ISO 22301. In 2014 he founded his own consultancy and he is an excellent forward thinking resilience innovator and blogger. paul@kudrayconsulting.com

Warnings over children’s health as recycled e-waste comes back as plastic toys

A trend towards using plastic parts in electrical and electronic goods is causing a headache for the recycling industry

Flame retardants used in plastics in a wide range of electronic products is putting the health of children exposed to them at risk, according to a new report (PDF).

Brominated flame-retarding chemicals have been associated with lower mental, psychomotor and IQ development, poorer attention spans and decreases in memory and processing speed, according to the peer-reviewed study by the campaign group CHEM Trust.

“The brain development of future generations is at stake,” says Dr Michael Warhurst, CHEM Trust’s director. “We need EU regulators to phase out groups of chemicals of concern, rather than slowly restricting one chemical at a time. We cannot continue to gamble with our children’s health.”

The issue poses questions about recycled products that have been imported from countries with less robust recycling rules, such as China.

A 2015 study found traces of two potentially hormone-altering flame retardants in 43% of toys surveyed.

In 2014 China generated 3.2bn tonnes of industrial solid waste, of which 2bn tonnes was recycled, recovered, incinerated or reused, according to a study in Nature. But concerns about its waste treatment standards were heightened by the discovery of some of the highest concentrations of PBDE chemicals (a group of brominated flame retardants) ever recorded in the food chain near the country’s e-waste recycling plants in the same year.

A trend towards using plastic parts instead of metals in electrical and electronic goods is also causing a headache for the circular economy because so many plastics use toxic flame retardants.

RELATED: Germany bans internet-connected dolls over fears hackers could target children

One 2015 study found significant traces of two potentially hormone-altering brominated flame retardants in 43% of 21 children’s toys surveyed, including toy robots, hockey sticks and finger skateboards. The substances are often found in the recycled plastics first used in electronic products.

Last month the European commission moved to restrict the use of one such substance, DecaBDE, but also allowed exemptions for spare car parts and aviation, and longer deferral periods for recycled materials containing the substance.

Source: The Guardian

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The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year, says WHO

More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, say two new WHO reports.

The first report, Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment reveals that a large portion of the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years – diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia – are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water and clean cooking fuels.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

A large portion of the most common causes of death among children are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water.

Harmful exposures can start in the mother’s womb and increase the risk of premature birth. Additionally, when infants and pre-schoolers are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke they have an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma. Exposure to air pollution may also increase their lifelong risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Top 5 causes of death in children under 5 years linked to the environment

A companion report, Don’t pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children’s health, provides a comprehensive overview of the environment’s impact on children’s health, illustrating the scale of the challenge. Every year:

  • 570 000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke.
  • 361 000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • 270 000 children die during their first month of life from conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution.
  • 200 000 deaths of children under 5 years from malaria could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage.
  • 200 000 children under 5 years die from unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls, and drowning.

Source: WHO

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Germany bans internet-connected dolls over fears hackers could target children

Germany has banned a popular talking doll that can connect to the internet over fears its technology could be exploited by hackers to target children.

The German telecommunications watchdog advised parents who have already bought the popular Cayla dolls to destroy them, but stopped short of ordering them to do so.

The Cayla doll, which was released in 2014, can interact with children and answer their questions. It connects to the internet and uses a combination of voice recognition software and Google searches to provide answers.

But the Bundesnetzagentur, Germany’s telecommunications watchdog, has ruled that the technology the dolls use to connect to the Internet is unsafe. Cayla uses an unsecured Bluetooth device hidden inside the doll to connect to the internet via an app on a nearby mobile phone.

The Bundesnetzagentur says that technology could be exploited by criminals to target children.

Source: The Telegraph

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