Oceans: conserving our threatened life support system

Professor Callum Roberts – 25 April, 2016 – 18:45Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 08.39.09

Oceans form the earth’s largest life support system. They produce 50% of the earth’s oxygen, and absorb the majority of our carbon. They are a crucial part of the cycle that produces our rain, and provide over a billion people with seafood as a main source of protein. But overfishing, the destruction of coastal habitats, pollution and climate change are threatening their health and the very survival of the vital ecosystem that depends upon them. This deteriorating situation imperils us all.

Callum Roberts is professor of marine conservation at the University of York. His research focuses on threats to marine ecosystems and species, and on finding the means to protect them. His main research interests include documenting the impacts of fishing on marine life, both historic and modern, and exploring the effectiveness of marine protected areas. For the last 25 years he has used his science background to make the case for stronger protection for marine life at both national and international levels. His award winning book, The Unnatural History of the Seacharts the effects of 1000 years of exploitation on ocean life. Callum’s most recent book, Ocean of life: how our seas are changing, shows how the oceans are changing under human influence and was shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Science Book Prize. His research team provided the scientific underpinning for half a million square kilometres of marine protection in the North Atlantic that was established at the OSPAR ministerial meeting in September 2010. In 2015 he was named by BBC Wildlife Magazine as one of the UK’s fifty most influential conservation heroes.


Venezuela: can the Bolivarian Revolution resist the forces of the right?

In December lVenezuelaast year Venezuela’s political right wing gained a majority in the National Assembly, defeating the country’s socialist PSUV party, which for 17 years has worked unremittingly in the interests of the most vulnerable sectors of society. Supported by the US and the neo-liberal block, this right-wing resurgence has destabilised the country and provoked dismay among the left leaning countries of Latin America, which have formed a new Parliamentary Network to confront the threat of neo-liberalism in the region. To make matters worse, the collapse of global oil prices and an unprecedented rise in inflation have adversely affected the economy, and President Maduro has been forced to declare a state of economic emergency. The National Assembly attempted unsuccessfully to block this measure, and its leader Henry Ramos Allup has now called for President Maduro to be removed from office. Dr Francisco Dominguez, Head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University, and Secretary of the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign, will discuss this extremely grave situation with us.


“Land grabbing, corruption, human rights abuse – the exploitation of the global poor”

rubber_baronsJulian Oram is Land Campaign leader at Global Witness.  Many of the world’s worst environmental and human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system.  Global Witness campaigns to end this by carrying out hard-hitting investigations to expose these abuses and campaign for change.  Julian will cover the following issues:

  • Why has land grabbing become a major global social issue, and what have been the recent drivers behind the dramatic rise in large-scale land acquisitions over the past 10-15 years.
  • Where are the current major global ‘hot spots’ of land grabbing, and what are the consequences in terms of livelihoods, poverty, culture, social disruption, governance, conflict and environmental destruction?
  • What have been some of the social, political and market responses at local, national and international levels?
  • Focus on the Greater Mekong Region: recent causes and effects of land grabbing in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar; and how GW is working with our partners and allies to address land governance issues in the region?

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Philanthrocapitalism: who really benefits from the Philanthropy Industry?

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 20.17.19Large charitable organisations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are currently rivalling governments as the providers of social welfare, yet the businesses which generate their charitable largesse frequently contribute to economic instability and compound global inequalities. There are 85,000 of these private foundations in the US, about 5,000 now established each year, and the distinction between profit making and benign activity is becoming increasingly blurred. Linsey McGoey is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Essex, and a former adviser to the WHO. She has published widely in the media, and her new book No Such Thing as a Free Gift: the Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy (Verso, 2015) examines the issue, asking whether this market-based philanthropy is actually doing good or simply perpetuating the inequalities it purports to remedy.


THE NEW SLAVERY: Human trafficking and the use of slave labour

kevin_bales_disposable_peoplekevin_balesHigh profit exploitation of people is increasing rapidly with globalisation of markets and millions of people are being subjected to a form of modern day slavery. With millions plunged into economic vulnerability by famine and market forces  and many more displaced and forced to flee because of war, the scale of the problem is huge and often ignored or condoned by corporations, governments and international bodies. At the same time highly organised and sophisticated criminal groups are making enormous profit out of human trafficking that has devastating consequences  for women and children in particular.
Kevin Bales is Professor of Contemporary Slavery and and Deputy Director of the Wilberforce institute for the Study of Slavery at the University of Hull. He is a Co-Founder of Free the Slaves and has for many years been one of the leading campaigners on the issue of modern day slavery, advising governments and the UN as well as writing extensively about the issue. In 2002 his documentary film ‘Slavery: A Global Investigation’ won the Emmy Award for best documentary. He will look at the current situation regarding slavery and human trafficking and what should be done to improve it, in particular in relation to the refugee crisis that is engulfing the Middle East. Professor Bales has written two books “Disposable People” and “Ending Slavery”   See also the link to TED talk on slavery in February 2010