The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 12 July 2016

Image: Alamy

Uncertain heritage

At a time when ancient sites across the Middle East are under threat, Unesco is in Istanbul this week to discuss its endangered World Heritage sites and peruse potential additions to the list. A variety of man-made and natural sites have been nominated, including the biodiversity and architecture of the marshlands in Iraq. But a particularly curious candidate is the collection of 17 Le Corbusier constructions across seven countries, from Tokyo’s National Museum of Western Art to the urban plan of Chandigarh in India. This is the third time that the Swiss-French architect’s oeuvre has been put to the Unesco vote, only this time the pitch has been shifted to present these works collectively as an “Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement”.

Image: Hoang Dinh Nam/Getty Images

Sea change?

Most people have probably never heard of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague but its five-person tribunal will be in the spotlight today. At 09.00 UK time the international court is slated to rule on a three-year-old case brought by the Philippines that will determine whether China has the legal right to claim much of the disputed, resource-rich South China Sea as its own. Manila has argued that Beijing’s control over man-made islands, rocks and reefs shouldn’t give China economic control of the up to 200 nautical miles of waters surrounding the Spratly Islands – but China has refused to recognise the proceedings. The case reflects worries in Asia over Beijing’s growing military assertiveness and it looks like a ruling in favour of the Philippines would not change much: the court has no authority to enforce the decision.

Image: Hiroshi Kai

Raising the bar

Piedmont may well be known for its Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco ruby reds but something else is brewing in this region in Italy’s northwest. From the small town of Piozzo, Baladin has been leading the pack of Italy’s small craft beer-makers since it started producing its own label in 1996. Tomorrow’s opening of its brand-new €12m production plant will enable it to yield 50,000 hectolitres of beer a year while staying true to artisanal methods. Other than standing as proof of its own success, Baladin’s expansion bodes well for the popularity of small breweries in such a wine-dominated country. Now counting about 700 craft breweries across the nation, the sector has seen a 1,900 per cent increase in Italy over the past decade alone. A recent law defining craft beer as something that is produced by independent breweries without being pasteurised and microfiltered will also help protect this budding industry from the big players’ influence. Cheers to that.

Expanding palate

With its array of bustling pintxo bars and the highest density of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, the Basque Country has long been a delicious destination of note. Now its government has teamed up with the Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastián to up the region’s gastronomic reputation by launching the Basque Culinary World Prize. Dished out for the first time yesterday, it celebrates chefs from around the world who are using food as a tool to improve social conditions. María Fernanda Di Giacobbe from Venezuela (pictured) took top honours for her support of Venezuelan cacao farmers through her chocolate-making “laboratories”; other finalists included Joshna Maharaj, a Canadian championing high-quality hospital meals, and David Hertz, who has set up culinary training for underprivileged people in favelas across Brazil and Mexico.

From Monocle 24

Image: Robbie Shade

Belgrade’s beach culture

You might think that beach culture couldn’t exist in a landlocked country but the lack of a coastline doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t slip on your Speedos and throw down a towel. A prime example is Serbia, which lost its last bit of coastline when Montenegro voted for independence 10 years ago. Since then Serbians have embraced options closer to home, most notably in the capital where two mighty rivers converge. Our Belgrade correspondent Guy De Launey reports.

From Monocle Films

Made in Wales

From a lavender farm in the countryside to a denim mill revitalising a harbour town, Wales is using its traditions and craft to benefit new industries. Monocle Films profiles two inspiring Welsh enterprises that are bringing international success home.

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