Stories written by Paul Virgo

Acute Hunger an ‘Immediate Threat’ To Over a Quarter of a Billion People

While King Charles III’s coronation in Britain was hogging much of the international media’s attention at the start of this month, it was easy not to notice another story that deserved at least as many headlines.

International Cooperation Starts Early in South Korea

When pupils from the Chadwick International School went on an exchange trip to their math teacher’s homeland the Philippines they were faced with a mystery. The kids from their twin school were warm, friendly and fun hosts.

Livelihoods of Almost Half the World’s Population Depend on Agrifood Systems

New research by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has revealed that almost half the world’s population of around eight billion people belong to households whose livelihoods depend to some degree on agrifood systems (AFS).

Crisis? What Crisis? Media Failing to Convey the Urgency of the Climate Emergency

If an alien landed on Planet Earth today and started watching television and reading the newspapers, it would probably not realize that humanity and the natural world face an existential threat - one that has taken us into the Sixth Mass Extinction, is already devastating the lives of many, especially in the Global South, and is set to hit the rest of us soon.

The Case For Criminalizing Ecocide

Genocide, war crimes, aggression, ecocide, crimes against humanity – which is the odd one out? The right answer is ecocide - destroying, polluting or damaging the natural living world on a large scale is not among the crimes that can be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

As the Climate Crisis Bites, Soil Needs Doctors Too

In a wiser world, the term ‘treating someone like dirt’ would be a good thing. After all, 15 of the 18 nutrients essential to plants are supplied by soils and around 95% of the food we eat comes directly or indirectly from them, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). So dirt is actually a precious resource that deserves to be treated with respect, care and perhaps even a little love.

Europe’s Dash for Gas Presents Pitfalls for Africa

One of the knock-on effects of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is that European countries have embarked on a ‘dash for gas’ to find alternatives to Russian energy supplies.

Leaders Told To Put ‘Kids First’ at COP27

Lea is a three-year-old from Mexico who loves ladybirds. Siddhiksha, a six-year-old from India, has a passion for trees and wild animals. Rachelle is a 12-year-old Tanzanian who is wise beyond her years. They are smart and adorable and they are among the stars of a short film that is aiming to remind the leaders taking part in the COP27 UN Climate Conference that they have a duty of care towards young and future generations.

Campaign for a Fossil Fuels Non-proliferation Treaty Gathers Steam

When it comes to moral endorsements, having the Vatican’s backing takes some beating. So the international campaign for a legally binding Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty took a huge step forward in July when Cardinal Michael Czerny, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, gave it his total support.

Farm-Kids-Turned-Scientists Give Back on the Climate-Crisis Front Line

Dr Alice Karanja knows from personal experience the tough choices the climate crisis is putting people before in the Global South. Choices such as whether to have a healthy diet or give your children an education. Choices such as whether to go hungry or allow your children to have any schooling at all.

Civil Disobedience – How to Make Enemies and Influence People

Blocking metros and highways in rush-hour traffic to stop commuters getting to work. Vandalizing petrol pumps to put them out of use. Halting sporting events such as the French Open and the British Grand Prix. Disrupting bemused art lovers by gluing oneself to priceless masterpieces.

Climate Collapse Is Not Inevitable But ‘Great Leap’ Needed

In 1972 the Club of Rome alerted the world to the harm human economic systems were doing to the health of our planet in its seminal, best-selling report, The Limits to Growth. With the devastating impacts of the climate crisis hitting home harder than ever, especially in the Global South, that warning about the dangers of exponential economic growth has been fully vindicated.

Yukiko Omura Credit: IFAD

Q&A: Tapping Women’s Enterprise to Topple Rural Poverty

Employees at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) may have cause to fear for their jobs after Yukiko Omura was appointed vice president of the United Nations' rural poverty agency in February.

RIGHTS: Italy Shows its Ugly Side

If the first step towards solving a problem is recognising you have one, the Italian authorities look to be some way from tackling the growing racism and xenophobia affecting sections of its society.

Prof. William Rees Credit:

Q&A: ‘Economic Growth Is Making us Poorer’

Dinner one evening when he was a kid put William Rees on track to becoming a sustainability pioneer. It was after a day at work on the family farm when he was nine or 10. He saw he had had a hand in growing everything on his plate. That brought a fascination with a connection to earth that would never leave him.

DEVELOPMENT: To Grab, Or To Invest

The World Food Security Summit in Rome this week opened up a dispute between what may be investment in farmland to some, but is seen as land grab by others.