The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 18 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

Lessons from Germany

You set a date in the diary a year ahead to talk about cities and how they can act on the global stage, manage inclusion and deliver on education. And then you discover those issues have never been so pertinent as a migrant story of epic proportions unfolds in Europe. That’s what has happened at the Build conference that is taking place in Bilbao this week. Run by the German Marshall Fund it brings together 100 civic leaders and thinkers. On Thursday, Michael Münter, the impressive policy director for the city of Stuttgart, gave a glimpse of how his city is coping with 4,300 migrants who have arrived so far by, for example, providing German lessons from day one. Münter says inclusion must happen with the help of industry and even city hall, which has a campaign to ensure its staff roster reflects a city where 40 per cent of people have a migrant background. But he stressed that Germany cannot take everyone and that many in the city have concerns that must be addressed.

Image: Marufish

Going green

Langkawi Island will be a new test-bed for Malaysia’s green ambitions as its government strives to create the region’s first low-carbon island. Prime minister Najib Razak says Langkawi, a tropical tourist bolthole in the Andaman Sea, will showcase renewable energy, electric mobility, waste management and green buildings. Malaysia is collaborating with South Korea on the project, tapping into its experience creating a carbon-free island in Jeju Province. “Southeast Asia is a hot spot for renewable energy companies,” says Anton Finenko, a researcher at the National University of Singapore. “It’s the perfect place to produce a project like this – the most conventional path would draw on solar, hydropower and biomass energy.”

Image: Getty Images

Ready for its close-up

The three-year renovation of St Patrick’s Cathedral on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue is nearing completion, just in time for a papal visit on 24 September. The $177m (€157m) refurbishment was overseen by architect Jeffrey Murphy. The work removed decades of grime, gave new lustre to the stained-glass windows and hooked up the building’s heating system to a geothermal well. Even the old organ pipes have had a tune-up. “St Patrick’s Cathedral helped put New York City on the map as a centre for world-class architecture in the late 1800s,” says Murphy. “It remains one of the most important landmarks in the city. With this conservation project, it can once again be seen in all its glory.”

Image: Krzysztof Pacholak

Hard news

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s leading daily newspaper, is a liberal publication that has been making its voice heard since 1989. Negotiating tradition with a democratic bent, the paper has accompanied the country from the fall of communism to becoming a fully fledged member of the EU. “In general, Poland has been a success and I believe we played a part in it,” says editor in chief Adam Michnik. Read all about it in the next issue of Monocle, on newsstands now.

From Monocle 24

Image: Mona

Cairo: Tahrir Square

This week’s edition of The Urbanist looks at the evolution of town squares. Cairo’s Tahrir Square was once the scene of mass uprisings but now people are banned from gathering there as the government gives it a facelift.

From Monocle Films

Retail special: chocolate shops

This tasty Monocle Briefing film goes in search of the perfect bar of chocolate. In Cape Town, Tokyo and Chicago we sample sugar and spice and all things nice.

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