What happens when politicians get creative – OZY
Of course, politics can seem like little more than a popularity contest where participants often promise more than they can deliver. But in a world beset by life and death challenges ranging from COVID-19 and climate change to sectarian violence and hunger, some leaders are trying something different.
In today’s Daily Dose, we examine the innovative steps taken by political leaders around the world in an attempt to fundamentally reset the fate of their nations – from a Caribbean prime minister building a republic out of a former colony to a mayor of Kosovo ethnic tensions with language and culture.
You might not be okay with everything they try. And it is likely that not all of these initiatives will succeed. But the world needs bold new ideas, and these leaders are leading the way.
Seeds of change
The island nation of Singapore brings in over 90% of its food from overseas, and that’s normally not a problem. But the the global supply chain disruption pandemic forces the wealthy city-state to recognize the food insecurity it might face in future crises. Now, seeds of change are growing as part of an initiative led by the country’s National Parks Board and former Minister of Social and Family Development Desmond Lee. Called Gardening with edibles, the program involves sending seeds to residents so that they can grow fruits and vegetables on their small balconies. It’s part of the whole country ”30 by 30”: Cover 30% of its nutritional needs nationally by 2030. By March, the initiative had sent nearly half a million packets of seeds.
The master class
To make sure the legions of new home gardeners aren’t left guessing, the Singapore National Parks Council has released instructional videos on how to sow and reap the produce. Those who register do not choose their seeds, but the plants have been selected to reflect the ingredients of traditional Singaporean dishes, such as sautéed cai xin and kangkong belacan. Part of the deployment also means double the number of community gardens by 2030, as growing vegetables on a window sill or balcony can become cramped and space on the island is limited. In addition, Lee is pushing an initiative to get residential apartment developers to increase green spaces, such as rooftop gardens and wall landscaping – providing the added benefit of cooling room temperatures.
While in its infancy as an independent nation, Bangladesh suffered a great famine in 1974, in which an estimated 1.5 million people died. Today, the country that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once derisively called a “basket” has become a success story against food shortages. Between 2000 and 2015, he halve chronic hunger, although one sixth of the country’s population remains food insecure. Now the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina focuses on the next big threat to the food supply: antimicrobial resistance, (AMR), in which the microbes, by evolving over time, no longer respond to medicine. She is warn the world the risk of future pandemics due to this phenomenon and the threat he represents food security. Will the richest nations listen before it’s too late?
Fishing for nutrition
It’s not just about having enough food; it’s also about having the right nutrition. Hasina encourages young people in Bangladesh to get into fish farming. It is not only an opportunity for self-employment, she said, but it is a way to locally strengthen the food supply of his country. His government would focus on increasing fish production while providing food to farmers and fishermen to ensure they do not fall into financial hardship, as well as arranging unsecured loans for those looking to start a fishing business.
POLICY AND ECONOMY
The king of crypto
Creative? Yes. Effective? Only time will tell. El Salvador grabbed the headlines after authoritarian and kid-friendly boom President Nayib Bukele makes Bitcoin legal tender in the Central American country. It has been authorized since the beginning of September. But this does not want to say all companies are obliged to accept it as a means of payment. Bukele’s vision is a libertarian dream: he argued that he wanted citizens to have access to a market-governed currency instead of depending on the US dollar, which is also legal tender. And at least in theory, it should be easier and safer to access money virtually.
Deployment of rumblings
But Bukele’s bold move didn’t have the smoothest launch. Bitcoin first took a beating in the markets shortly after officially becoming legal tender on September 7, before recovering. There has also been a significant pullback among Salvadorans, many of whom are concerned about Bitcoin’s volatility – he’s a fickle friend – and the potential of its use in money laundering. The state launched an official digital wallet, called Chivo, with $ 30 of bitcoin preloaded, but since its introduction it has been plagued by glitches. Some users didn’t get the $ 30 and couldn’t use ATMs or even access their wallets. And now the president is urging Salvadorans to “buy the dips,” by joining him in monetary speculation. Sink or swim, the result of this experiment could mean big changes for a country in which 70% of the population does not have access to banking services.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are not the only ones to sever ties with the British monarchy. Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, elected in 2018, has announced plans to impeach the Queen as the island nation’s head of state to make the country a republic by November 30. Talk to Vogue, Mottley described the move as “accepting responsibility for who we are”, rather than any ill will towards the royal family. The next few months will see the crystallization of a new constitution, as current Governor General Dame Sandra mason is set to become Barbados’ first local head of state as president.
Equality in marriage by popular vote
But Mottley is a factor of change in more than one way: she also has marriage equality in mind. She explained how, as a “country that was forged into its modern embodiment in the experience of racism and discrimination”, Barbados cannot now deliberately discriminate against its own citizens. His plan includes first the legalization of civil unions between people of the same sex, then the holding of a referendum on same-sex marriage. LGBTQ groups and activists are not so confident, however, claiming that building equality will take much more than civil unions and warning that it may be too early for a referendum on marriage.
INTEGRATION AND EQUALITY
Break the language barrier
As an ethnic Albanian, Qëndron Kastrati, mayor of Kamenica, Kosovo, does not speak much Serbian. But with a growing number of others in his region, he is learning – thanks to the language exchange courses set up by his municipality make a bridge ethnic and cultural tensions. The vast majority of Kosovars are Albanians, after violent conflict in the late 1990s, which prompted many Serbs to leave. Those who remain live largely separate from the Albanians, and linguistic and cultural barriers perpetuate historic fractures. The course includes visits to sites of religious and cultural importance for both parties. More than 100 people have joined the program and Kastrati hopes to expand its reach, while other cities are borrowing from its idea.
But Kastrati’s ideas are also controversial. The mayor for the first time undertook to reform education in his city, where some schools had only one student, and ordered the closure of 19 schools in 2019. Teachers and parents applauded, ostensibly attending closed schools. Kastrati held on nonetheless. And last year then Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti – who previously criticized the mayor of Kamenica – Bliss for pushing for educational reforms even as he urged him to seek compromise with his critics.
Freedom zone activist
It takes guts to be an openly gay, atheist, feminist and pro-European politician in an increasingly conservative Poland led by the right-wing Law and Justice party. Yet this is a position that Robert Biedroń has been taking for years. MEP and candidate for the 2020 presidential election in his country, Biedroń pleaded for a plan to retaliate against the proliferation of “LGBTQ-free zones” in Poland, where local authorities have pledged, since 2019, to prevent pro-LGBTQ policies. Biedroń tabled a resolution in the European Parliament asserting that the bloc would instead become an area of “LGBTQ freedom”. The resolution was adopted, although some regions had have chosen to lose their EU funding rather than comply.
Solidarity with red hair
In March, Biedroń appeared on one of Poland’s biggest current affairs TV shows with hair dyed tomato red. “This is my manifestoHe said, explaining that this is his sign of support for young people facing a lack of access to sex education. Poland’s social history is interwoven with a lack of sex education, leading to the perpetuation of stereotypes, homophobia, inequalities for women and minorities – and more and more physical violence. Biedroń said that from this day and for the foreseeable future he will have Red hair in solidarity with “this great damn injustice” which mainly affects children.