Friday 28 July 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 28/7/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Go to extremes

As the mercury finally falls in Sicily and the skies begin to clear in Lombardy, Italians across the country are having to deal with the destruction that violent storms and raging wildfires have left behind. Italy has become a bellwether for a range of meteorological extremes caused by climate change. Even though I couldn’t feel any of its stifling heat in rainy London, I still felt a sense of scorching rage as I watched my home country burn from afar.

Dealing with climate change – and the way it makes us feel – isn’t easy. Looking for a quick, straightforward fix is an illusion; it’s obvious that the responsibility to tackle it is shared (to varying degrees) between governments and individuals. Still, that doesn’t mean that we can’t expect politicians to take the lead – and in Italy, Giorgia Meloni’s government isn’t doing enough.

Many of the country’s far-right politicians still refuse to link the current weather with environmental damage; Meloni herself has referred to the events as “a delicate situation in an unpredictable climate”, skirting around their underlying causes. In the past, she has talked about how Italy’s environmental policies shouldn’t interfere with the economy – which seems to overlook how extreme weather is already affecting sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

Some of the measures that she has suggested include hiring more people in emergency services and increasing expenditure on the vehicles that they need. A recent law decree made it possible for employees on building sites, quarries and farms to apply for subsidies if it’s too hot to work and there is also talk of a “hydrogeological” prevention plan. But the current situation requires more than just coping with the effects of floods and fires. When the cleanup is done, it will be time to confront the problem itself.

Chiara Rimella is Monocle’s executive editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Shutterstock

Affairs / Niger

Misplaced trust

The news of Niger’s coup, which was staged by soldiers of its presidential guard and has thrown the nation into political chaos, has sparked Western anxieties about the stability of the Sahel region. Backed by the country’s military, the group behind the insurrection has detained its democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, suspended state institutions and closed its national borders. The coup has exacerbated the growing distrust of other African leaders towards their own militaries and governments have begun to turn to private military contractors such as Russia’s Wagner group for aid.

According to Rebecca Tinsley, founder of Network for Africa, it is in Russia’s interests to make sure that the insecurity continues as African leaders often exchange stakes in their countries’ mineral resources in return for protection. “If they were successful in dealing with the Islamist insurgency, Wagner wouldn’t be needed anymore,” Tinsley tells The Monocle Minute. “Whether Vladimir Putin likes it or not, he and Yevgeny Prigozhin are joined at the hip.”

For more on Niger and the Sahel region’s growing instability, tune in to ‘The Globalist’, on Monocle Radio at 07.00 London time.

Diplomacy / Singapore & Timor-Leste

Friends and relations

Singapore has announced plans to open an embassy in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, in what the Singaporean foreign affairs minister, Vivian Balakrishnan (pictured, on left), called a “significant milestone” for the two countries. During a press conference in Dili, Balakrishnan noted that Timor-Leste’s future accession to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) was a key reason for its expanding presence in the country.

Singapore will become the sixth Asean nation to open an embassy there, which currently has just one non-resident ambassador. According to its foreign affairs minister, Singapore will also increase investment and economic ties in Timor-Leste in a bid to boost tourism to the region. The planned embassy is an important step towards Timor-Leste’s integration with the rest of Southeast Asia.

Art / USA

Only show in town

The market at this year’s Seattle Art Fair opened to the general public yesterday and will run until this Sunday. Though the fair’s collection packs less of a punch than it did when its founder, philanthropist Paul Allen, was in charge – blue-chip dealers such as Gagosian, Zwirner and Pace have not returned since Allen’s death in 2018 – it still acts as a major stage on which local creatives can showcase their work.

This year’s artists seized the opportunity to put on alternative programmes, including the Forest For The Trees Show, the downtown XO art installation taking place in a historic cinema and new exhibitions at the contemporary art space Museum of Museums. “Seattle Art Fair is a rare moment in the year when dealers, collectors and arts writers outside the city pay attention to its regional art community,” Greg Lundgren, founder of Museum of Museums, tells The Monocle Minute. “They are curious about what’s happening in Seattle. It’s important to greet that curiosity with opportunities to discover the talent and innovation that lives here.”

Image: KAREL

Hospitality / France

Shared ambition

Born out of the Alps in 2011, Beaumier is a luxury hotel group with destinations that focus on tradition, modernity and elegance. President and CEO Éric Dardé tells Monocle about the importance of authenticity in hospitality and how the brand is employing simple fixes to redefine luxury.

What are the distinguishing qualities of a Beaumier hotel? In luxury, less is more. We love small hotels because you can really tailor them to your guests’ needs. There are three key elements to our philosophy. The first is to help people reconnect with nature. All of our rooms have windows that open onto the sea, the mountains or the countryside. We also encourage guests to connect with the local area and believe that it is important to incorporate wellbeing and movement into their stay. That’s why we offer outdoor sports such as skiing, swimming, hiking or mountain biking.

All of your hotels are so different from one another. Why is this?
There is real sincerity in how we set up each venue; we do it with our hearts. A lot of people are involved in creating these experiences and they’re inspired by the legacy and local culture of the places that we visit. We try to create modern interpretations of this in our hotels.

How do you ensure that you keep these values as the business scales?
Our partners may be spread across the globe but we all look at life in the same way. They have been with us for years and have the DNA of what we are trying to achieve. Collaboration becomes natural after a while. When we expand, we trust our people – it doesn’t matter if they propose something different from how we normally operate as we know that the end result will always be good.

For the full interview with Dardé and Beaumier, tune in to Wednesday’s edition of ‘The Entrepreneurs’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Raw Mango

Monocle Radio / Monocle On Design

Prime Matter and Raw Mango

We visit Prime Matter, industrial designer Emmanuel Babled’s gallery in Lisbon and meet Sanjay Garg, founder of Indian luxury fashion brand Raw Mango.

Monocle Films / Culture

Inside Portugal’s tinned-fish industry

Tinned sardines are an icon of Portugal. We visit a family-run shop and one of the country’s last artisanal canneries to discover why sardines are cherished by the Portuguese, how the industry started back with Napoleon and what is driving the revival of canned fish. Discover more from the country with Portugal: The Monocle Handbook.


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