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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 15 September 2017

Geopolitics

Image: Shutterstock

Listen to reason?

Myanmar and North Korea are both on the agenda at the UN; although what good resolutions can do may also be up for debate.

The 72nd session of the UN General Assembly has kicked off and there’s no shortage of hot topics brewing for António Guterres’s first general debate as UN secretary-general. Issues to be addressed include the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and North Korea’s increasingly alarming behaviour. Guterres has already ruled out military action for the latter and secured new resolutions against the country, though it’s hard to believe the meeting will yield many real-world results. Aung San Suu Kyi has already cancelled her plans to attend amid growing criticism and, given North Korea’s missile testing, it remains to be seen whether UN resolutions will be enough to change the rogue nation’s course.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Time for a change

David Chipperfield’s involvement in the Rolex Mentor programme has led him to believe that London should do an about-face when it comes to city-planning.

If you switched the planning departments of Zürich and London, how would each city change? That is a debate that architect Sir David Chipperfield has been having for the past year. As part of the Rolex Mentor programme he has been sharing wisdom with his protégé Simon Kretz, Swiss architect and teacher at ETH. Over the course of a year they studied the impact of a potential planning-regime switch and, at a dinner at London’s Royal Academy this week to mark the end of their buddy programme, it was clear that it has been an architectural eye-opener. Chipperfield said that in London there is a fear of placing restrictions on developers (thanks to the belief that the market should determine what happens) but often also a sense of having to battle to get a building green-lit. His conclusion: “There is a lot we could learn from the Swiss model, where the process is not confrontational but often driven by an open sense of competition for what should happen.” Rolex, which was founded in London before moving to Switzerland, should be pleased with the tie-up.

Environment

Image: US Army

Break ranks

Trump may not believe in climate change but at least his military is taking it seriously.

While the current White House administration may question if climate change is real, the Pentagon isn’t taking any chances. Donald Trump officially cancelled an Obama-era order requiring the military to prepare for climate change with measures such as fortifying bases and planning for more humanitarian relief missions from natural disasters. Despite Trump’s decision the military has continued to prepare bases around the US against extreme conditions, doing everything from building up aircraft hangars to withstand higher winds to preparing ports for rising sea levels. This could help mitigate damage to military infrastructure from events like the recent hurricanes that ravaged Florida and the Gulf Coast. For the Pentagon, it looks like disaster preparation trumps disbelief.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

The race is on

Goings-on at the IAA in Frankfurt suggest a battle between Germany and China for pole position in the SUV market.

The Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) in Frankfurt, one of the world’s biggest fairs for car-lovers, opens its doors to the public tomorrow. Visitors will notice a buzz around the highly profitable sports-utility-vehicle (SUV) segment – and that China is announcing its entry into that market. Great Wall Motors hopes to shake up the European market with its high-end marque Wey, while Chery is presenting the Exeed TX, an SUV available in three models. (Moreover, in just one week’s time, Volvo – owned by Chinese conglomerate Geely – will launch its eagerly awaited compact SUV, the XC40, in Milan.) The Germans have responded to the challenge though: the new third-generation Porsche Cayenne and the new BMW X3 have both premiered at the IAA to rave reviews.

From Monocle 24

Rooftop pavilion

The Urbanist

We find out about a tiny rooftop dwelling disguised as a warehouse air duct in East London. Could this alternative way of living help solve London’s housing crisis?

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