Monday. 21/2/2022

The Monocle Minute

Happy returns

What a 15 years it has been. In honour of our magazine’s anniversary we’ll be featuring a series of voices throughout this week to explore how the world has changed between 2007 and today. Join us for a range of viewpoints this week and don’t forget to pick up a copy of our special anniversary issue, which is out on Thursday.

Image: Yves Bachmann

Opinion / Ben Page

In real time

The world has become a much smaller place over the course of Monocle’s lifetime. Air travel boomed: passenger flights rose from 2.4 billion in 2007 to 4.5 billion in 2019. In other ways, though, the planet has become more divided and disconnected. The past 15 years have witnessed the decline of the “Weird” (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) countries driving the global economy. Autocracies are, for the first time since 2001, in the majority.

Optimism has become a dividing line between East and West. Europeans and Americans have generally become more pessimistic. Only 12 per cent of British people expected their children to be poorer than them in 2003; by 2019 this had risen to 45 per cent. In contrast, Asians see the future very differently and experienced dramatic improvements in living standards this century. But there are some things that unite us, including a global desire to slow down the pace of our lives. In France this has risen from 46 per cent to 66 per cent since 2007 and in China from 73 per cent to 89 per cent. There has also been a growing awareness of climate change, with its catastrophic risk being one of the few things that more than 80 per cent agree on.

Wherever we live, we have plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Global life expectancy has generally risen: in Africa, for example, it rose from 57 to 64 over this period. The world has become more tolerant in its social values overall, despite political instability. Finally, the youth of 2022 are in many ways simply “better” than previous generations. They drink and smoke less, are better educated, work harder and are less violent overall. While uncertainty abounds, the world in 2022 is a better place than it was in 2007.

Ben Page is chief executive of research company Ipsos Mori. For his full essay and more takes on how the world has changed, grab a copy of the 15th anniversary edition of Monocle magazine, which is out on Thursday.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Nato

Safety in numbers

The Munich Security Conference has long been used by Joe Biden as a vehicle with which to reassert US support for the Nato military alliance; the US president visited even when Nato-sceptic Donald Trump was in office. And while his vice-president, Kamala Harris (pictured, on right), took centre-stage at the conference in his absence this weekend, this is one year in which Nato hasn’t needed defending. The ongoing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine has given the bloc new relevance even as Russia, which did not send a delegation to Munich for the first time in 30 years, seeks to undermine it. But will that help Ukraine? Its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, visited the German city over the weekend to warn that Ukraine’s fate is tied to Europe’s, a sentiment that is backed by Baltic nations in particular. But while world leaders including Harris offered words of support, what Ukraine really desires is the protection that comes with Nato membership. And that remains a step too far for the West.

Image: Getty Images

Trade / UK & Asia

Area of influence

The UK’s international trade secretary will tour three Asian nations this week to help cement its participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Having passed the first stage of the process last week, the UK is one step closer to joining the 11-nation trade bloc; Anne-Marie Trevelyan (pictured) will visit Indonesia, Japan and Singapore in a bid to complete the second and final part of negotiations, the market access phase.

The UK’s accession would be a significant milestone in the country’s post-Brexit trade ties: there are claims that it is worth £8.4trn (€10.1trn) to UK wealth. “It’s worth remembering that the UK already has negotiated free-trade agreements with a majority of the 11 countries currently in the bloc,” economist Vicky Pryce tells The Monocle Minute. “The CPTPP mainly focuses on traded goods and a lot less on services, where the UK has a comparative advantage.”

Image: Getty Images

Cinema / Spain

Lights, cash, action

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced a €1.6bn investment in the country’s audiovisual sector last year. But it’s independent Spanish films, made on modest budgets, that have been conquering the world of late, leading the nation’s media to swoon about a golden generation of directorial talent dominated by women. The most recent triumph was village-set family drama Alcarràs, directed by Carla Simón (pictured), who won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear award. Another director who is making waves is Clara Roquet, who won this year’s Goya (Spain’s answer to the Academy Awards) and there may be more to celebrate when the Oscar winners are announced next month. Penélope Cruz is nominated for a best actress Oscar in Parallel Mothers and Alberto Iglesias for the film’s score. Javier Bardem is among the best actor nominees for Being The Ricardos and director Alberto Mielgo is named for best animated short. With such a strong talent base, investment can only help to cement Spain’s stature in the film world.

Image: Azulik

Culture / Mexico

Into the wild

The SFER IK Museum deep in the heart of Mexico’s Mayan jungle will officially reopen on 18 March after being shuttered for more than two years. Known as the “Guggenheim of the jungle”, the art space is the brainchild of Mexico-based architect Eduardo “Roth” Neira (pictured, on right) and was built using locally sourced and sustainable materials: cement, fibreglass and vines. The museum is an example of biomorphic architecture with a whimsical twist, blending seamlessly into the surrounding wilderness with its curving walls and natural hues. It will feature exhibitions, workshops and artist residencies that focus on the interconnectedness of art and the natural world. At the centre of the relaunch will be “The Mexx”, a site-specific installation by Japanese artist Azuma Makoto made using flowers indigenous to Mexico. “The museum itself feels like an organism,” says Azuma. “I wanted to create a new biophilic encounter between species within it that will naturally evolve over time.”

Image: Sebastian Stigsby

M24 / The Global Countdown

Denmark

Monocle 24’s Fernando Augusto Pacheco looks at the top songs in Denmark this week.

Monocle Films / Global

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