Monday. 3/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Venetia Rainey

Full circle

Today will see business leaders, policymakers and experts from around the world gather in Helsinki for a three-day celebration. No, not of music, art or even food but of the so-called circular economy which is not just about recycling but about improving the efficiency of the entire manufacturing process and, in turn, eliminating waste. The concept has become increasingly fashionable but is it more a buzzword than a reality?

It seems so. A 2018 survey by ING, a bank, of 300 executives found that 62 per cent of US companies plan to move towards circularity but it also concluded that they struggle to understand its true value and implement it effectively. Not only is this shift essential from an environmental point of view, however, it’s also a huge business opportunity. Look at Heineken’s brewery in Mexico: it uses waste heat from a nearby factory for energy and sells by-products such as sludge and spent grains to farms. Here’s hoping the Helsinki delegates have some more smart ideas for pushing things forward.

Diplomacy / UK & USA

What’s the point?

Donald Trump is in London for a UK state visit this week and hundreds of thousands of protesters (and their large inflatable Donald balloon) are expected to take to the streets. But is it all much ado about nothing? As far as state visits go, Trump’s trip is pretty low on pomp. Though he’ll be welcomed to Buckingham Palace by the Queen for a banquet and various activities, he won’t actually be staying in it – there are renovations taking place. He also won’t be taking the customary gilded carriage ride to the palace, due to security reasons. And he definitely won’t be addressing parliament: too many British politicians opposed it, particularly speaker of the house John Bercow. Even Trump’s scheduled sit-down with Theresa May will be meaningless: she only has four more days left as prime minister.

Defence / Asia

It’s good to talk

The Shangri-la Dialogue – Asia’s biggest defence and security summit – took place in Singapore over the weekend. The event is usually a chance for defence ministers to come together and talk about China’s activities in the region: the superpower has until now been somewhat absent from the gathering. But this year the Chinese Communist party decided that its defence minister Wei Fenghe should take a more active role in the discussion. “China has seen that it is facing a growing level of pushback around the world and a growing level of anger,” says Raffaello Pantucci, director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. “In previous years you would have this awkward situation where China is the talking point that everyone is focused on without China being represented. Showing up to the event is half the battle.”

Aviation / Pakistan and the UK

Better connected

British Airways restarted its service from London to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad yesterday, following a hiatus of almost 11 years. The UK’s flag-carrier cancelled flights to the country in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing, leaving Pakistan International Airlines as the sole option for direct travel between Pakistan and the UK. The resumption of the three weekly services was announced by the UK government in December last year, with BA operating the Boeing 787 Dreamliner along the route. While Pakistani airspace remains closed along the Indian border – at considerable inconvenience to western carriers flying east – Pakistan will be happy that the route has been reopened as it tries the difficult task of to repositioning itself as a tourist destination.

Politics / Mexico

Passport control

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as Amlo) has come under criticism for pushing his executive powers beyond the remit of his office. Most recently he ordered that the country’s top scientists – belonging to Cinvestav, an elite government-funded research institution – must seek his written permission to travel abroad for work. The policy became law in May but now that Mexico’s scientific community are filing requests, many are uncertain as to when, or by what criteria, Amlo might decide to permit them to travel. The president says that he is cutting unnecessary spending – Cinvestav’s scientists have a MXN20,000 (€900) stipend for foreign travel each year – but such isolationist laws will only frustrate Mexican talent and stifle international dialogue.

M24 / The Stack

‘Kinfolk’, ‘Zadig’, ‘Jezga’

We visit the office of Kinfolk magazine, check out a new French title called Zadig and a magazine showcasing Baltic creativity, Jezga.

Monocle Films / Hawaii

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: Honolulu

There is more to Honolulu than aloha shirts and picture-postcard images of hula girls: our new travel guide reveals a dynamic urban centre packed with independent retailers, modernist architecture and a shave-ice stand or two. Published by Gestalten, it is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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