This is a blog written by alumni of the EPA MA programme in Maastricht.
Bursting the Bubble

A Great Green Wall at the edge of the desert

23 October 2014 | by

Desertification and land degradation affect millions of people in the Sahel and the Sahara, home to the world’s poorest populations. In a place where around two-thirds of the land cover consists of drylands and deserts, desertification makes its way – boosted by human pressure, deforestation and climate change. Food security and the livelihood of local communities are at stake.

The will of facing this challenge lies at the core of the Great Green Wall (GGW). This ambitious initiative, which aims to be a game changer in African drylands, was originally conceived as a band of drought-resistant trees stretching from Senegal to Djibouti, and has turned into a patchwork of actions oriented to increase resilience and fuel rural development.

Eulogio Montijano, from the EU special mission to the African Union and Project Manager of different projects in support of the GGW explains the origins, timeline and objectives. Continue reading

First the European Union now the European Court of Human Right: A new target of British ‘Sovereignism Creep’

21 October 2014 | by

In a move to reach out to UKIP voters and its own backbenchers, the UK Conservative Party has announced its will to adopt its own British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and transform the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) into an advisory body, a plan which is likely to lead to the UK’s withdrawal from European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). After having reviewed the main tensions between Strasbourg and London, the article analyses the consequences such bold move could have on both the Council of Europe and the European Union before concluding that this state of play proceeds not from a eurosceptic trend but from a British ‘sovereignism creep’. Continue reading

UKIP Have Won a Battle, Not the War

17 October 2014 | by

On the 10th October 2014, UKIP achieved a seat in the UK House of Commons. This feat has been the dream, indeed craving, of the party since its earliest years – one which had been denied them, until yesterday. UKIP’s victory in the European elections and its success in entering parliament have far reaching consequences for British politics.

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Why Holding an EU Referendum May Be a Good Idea After All: Learning the value of the EU not just its price

15 October 2014 | by

Judging by the media attention that numerous EU-sceptic movements have drawn these past few years, it would appear that Europe has entered the age of its disintegration. From Clacton’s by-election which has delivered UKIP its first MP in Westminster to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s illiberal dream of rapprochement with Russia, the media outlets pay only a lip service to those who oppose the drowning noise of anti-immigration, anti-EU, protectionist and anti-progressive rhetoric poured out into the European public sphere. The outcome of misinformation on the one hand and total resignation of pro-EU advocates on the other has resulted in one thing – Europeans have learnt the cost but forgot the value of the EU membership. This is even more so when it comes to young people who more often than not take benefits of the EU for granted as they do not remember the age of fragmented nation states. Continue reading

Swiss Solar Wonder Set to Circumnavigate the World

13 October 2014 | by

Years ago, a child looked in wonder as a bi-wing plane roared to life, and took off into the clear blue sky; its pilot was an adventurous hero of the sky, inspiring awe from children as he whizzed by in a puff of wonder… and some exhaust fumes. The allure of aviation has transcended human generations, continuing to touch children (and adults alike) today. The children we inspire today are the future of the world, and it is up to us to ensure that that inspiration leans towards positive social progress. Thankfully, the mystique that a loud gnarly engine or a cloud of smoke used to spur in children is gone. Today the inspiration for our children comes from being green, lean, and an innovative machine. Inspiration appropriately geared to the problems facing the world today, which are unlike anything humans have faced prior, particularly climate change.
Almost a year ago, I stood in a crowd of enthusiastic children, and children at heart, to welcome Solar Impulse 1 to New York City for the completion of its adventure soaring across the United States; a record shattering venture as the world’s first solely solar powered plane pushed the limits of what we knew to be possible. Continuing to inspire the world, the Swiss Solar Impulse team is now preparing for their flight to circumnavigate the globe with Solar Impulse 2. I was honoured to be able to ask our modern day heroes in flight, the pilots – Bertrand Piccard & André Borschberg – some questions regarding their upcoming invigorating, inspiring, and norm defying venture.

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