Viewpoint by Jonathan Power*

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) – "What did these vain and presumptuous men intend? How did they expect to raise their lofty mass against God, when they had built it above all the mountains and clouds of the earth’s atmosphere?" This is St. Augustine writing about Babylon in his 'City of God'. In more modern times Jonathan Raban has written in 'Soft City': "The city has always been an embodiment of hope and a source of festering guilt: A dream pursued, and found vain, wanting and destructive."

St. Augustine wrote the 'City of God' in a state of sorrowful contemplation. The city of man, he believed, ought to be a harmonious reflection of the City of God. In actuality it is vulgar, lazy and corrupt, a place so brutish that it lacks even the dignity of the satanic. St Augustine would surely write the same way if reincarnated in Atlanta, Johannesburg, Mumbai or Riyadh.

- Photo: 2021

IDN-INPS Southeast Asia’s Second Sustainable Development Observer

By Kalinga Seneviratne

SYDNEY | BANGKOK (IDN) — The second issue of Sustainable Development Observer—an e-monthly of IDN-InDepthNews in association with INPS Southeast Asia with news and views on sustainable development goals from the perspective of the two-thirds world (Global South)—has been published. The inaugural issue can be downloaded here.

October is the month when there is much hype in the Global Media about the Nobel Prizes announced from Sweden—usually given to westerners or those who help to promote a western ‘liberal’ agenda. Not many people outside Asia knows about the Ramon Magsaysay Award announced at the same time from Manila, as it is in honour of a former President of the Philippines. There are normally five prizes announced and it is widely seen as Asia’s “Nobel Prizes” and the recipients of these prizes are widely respected across Asia.

This issue features two outstanding Asians who received this year’s prize—Bangladesh scientist Dr Firdausi Qadri for creating affordable vaccines to combat cholera and typhoid, and Dr Muhammad Amjad Saquib, who founded Pakistan’s largest Islamic Community Development Organisation Akhuwat. Both deserve global recognition for outstanding contributions to achieving the SDGs.

It also takes a special look at the UN Food Systems Summit that took place on September 23, asking the question whether it could help to find solutions to global hunger?

Fiji Island’s outspoken Prime Minister  Josaia  V Bainimarama in an OpEd makes an impassionate plea to world leaders to acknowledge the link between climate and disease, and look at security threats as a problem of people living against nature and not with it. His article provides much guidance for mindful thoughts for world leaders heading towards Glasgow for COP26.

This month’s issue also focuses on Africa recovering from COVID-19 with the aid of UN’s Africa Renewal’ website, while from South Centre in Geneva, this month’s focus is on their policy briefs on ‘Restructuring the Global Vaccine Industry’. The final article is designed to provoke media practitioners to rethink their adversarial reporting culture that could be a security risk. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 October 2021]


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