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Drip irrigation, sun, and solar do 'God's work' and a Colombian desert blooms
19 July 2019 - When Tomas Suarez turned up last year in this remote Guayabal community in the arid La Guajira region with seeds and the skills to grow food year round, locals greeted him with skepticism. ... Not even a year later, the half-acre plot is a field of green ... thriving under a blazing sun. For a community where farming depended on rain -- with nary a drop seen for nine months -- it was nothing short of a miracle. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said there are similar projects in 19 communities across La Guajira, a vast and isolated region on the Caribbean coast bordering Venezuela and among Colombia's poorest areas. (more)

Refugees target global markets with luxury crafts
19 July 2019 - More than 1,500 refugees from 15 countries have been recruited to create a stylish collection of MADE51 products, from cashmere throws with crochet insets to hand-knotted sheep's wool rugs. The brand has already attracted some high profile players -- with Britain's Prince Charles purchasing MADE51 carpets crafted by Afghan refugees, and the exclusive store Harrods of London showcasing their throws by Syrian refugees. (more)

Water-smart green roofs and plazas make a splash in Rotterdam
18 July 2019 - A decade ago, Rotterdam's rundown inner-city Zomerhofkwartier district was slated for redevelopment -- a project that was shelved when a global economic crisis hit. Today, however, the 'ZoHo' district is home to young entrepreneurs, a rain garden blooming with flowers, and -- like other central neighbourhoods of this Dutch port city -- a new sense of green purpose. (more)

Remains of 9,000-year-old Neolithic settlement unearthed outside Jerusalem
18 July 2019 - A huge Stone Age settlement unearthed outside Jerusalem may have been home to 3,000 people, the Neolithic equivalent of a large city, according to details released by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday [16 July]. The findings also provide evidence of sophisticated urban planning and farming, which may force experts to rethink the region's early history, said archeologists involved in the excavation. (more)

Want to invest responsibly? A new breed of stock exchange aims to help
18 July 2019 - If regulators give their approval, Scotland's first new stock exchange in nearly 50 years will launch this year to list securities with measurable environmental or social outcomes. Meanwhile, India's government last week unveiled plans to open an electronic platform to enable social enterprises -- businesses that aim to do good as well as make a profit -- to raise capital. They follow initiatives in Canada and Singapore to help social entrepreneurs tap into a market whose estimated value is now $502 billion, according to the Global Impact Investing Network, an industry body. (more)

Healthy living may help offset genetic risk of dementia: study
17 July 2019 - Living healthily with a good diet and regular exercise may help people with a higher genetic susceptibility to dementia to offset the risk of developing it, according to recent research. The risk of dementia was reduced by 32 percent in people with a high genetic risk if they had followed a healthy lifestyle, compared to those who had an unhealthy lifestyle, the study, published in the medical journal JAMA on Sunday [14 July], found. (more)

Maintaining or starting exercise in middle age tied to longer life
17 July 2019 - Even if they were inactive during their younger years, middle aged and older adults who get at least the minimum recommended amount of exercise each week may live longer than their sedentary counterparts, suggests a large UK study. (more)

How one community brought child mortality down from 154 to 7 per 1,000 live births
12 July 2019 - Imagine a world in which pregnant women and little kids get regular home visits from a health worker -- and free health care. That's the ground-breaking approach that's being adopted in one of the world's poorest countries: the West African nation of Mali. 'We are trying to make Mali be great again, to improve our health care system and save lives, and we are hoping this will help us reach universal health care with a very powerful, improved system,' Mali's health minister, Samba Ousmane Sow, said. (more)

Dutch airline KLM calls for people to fly responsibly
11 July 2019 - Dutch airline KLM has launched a campaign asking people to fly less. The video and open letter from CEO Pieter Elbers asks: 'Do you always have to meet face-to-face?' and 'Could you take the train instead?' The campaign aims to encourage travellers and the aviation industry to consider the environmental impact of flying. It describes the 'shared responsibility' of travellers and airlines to 'fly more responsibly', and says those in the industry need to 'create a sustainable future for aviation'. (more)

France: Why the City of Light is about to get a lot greener
11 July 2019 - If all goes according to plan, 'urban forests' will soon sprout near many of Paris's historic landmarks, including the Gare de Lyon railway station and the Hotel de Ville (city hall). These pockets of trees -- which will spring up in both hidden and heavily foot-trafficked areas -- are intended to simultaneously beautify and cool the increasingly hot city (which reached record high temperatures of 100-plus degrees Fahrenheit in June). (more)

UK: Jodrell Bank Observatory gains Unesco World Heritage status
7 July 2019 - Jodrell Bank Observatory has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. It has been at the forefront of astronomical research since its inception in 1945 and tracked US and Russian craft during the space race. The site in Cheshire is part of the University of Manchester. It is dominated by the landmark Lovell Telescope. It joins the ancient Iraqi city of Babylon and other locations that have been added to the prestigious list. (more)

In pictures: New Unesco World Heritage Sites
6 July 2019 - Every year, natural and cultural landmarks from around the world are singled out for their 'outstanding universal value' to humanity. Unesco's World Heritage Committee has been meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan to decide which sites deserve special status and protection. The 43rd session meets until Wednesday 10 July, but here are some additions made to their list so far. (more)

Puerto Rico harnesses the power of the sun for a renewable energy future
5 July 2019 - With so much sunlight on tap, solar power has begun to boom in Puerto Rico since [Hurricane Maria]. Across the island, individuals, communities and businesses are installing solar panels and battery systems. ... PREPA [a government-owned utility] officials say they are ready to make big changes. The authority has prepared a detailed plan to rebuild its power grid into a more resilient system. PREPA also envisions building large solar farms. (more)

Saving vanishing words: Why Queens is the 'Noah's Ark of languages'
5 July 2019 - Saving the world's rarest words means travel -- hopping a subway to Queens. Jackson Heights is the perfect place to pursue such preservation efforts. Over the past decade, in fact, linguistics scholars have begun to focus more of their research on such urban immigrant communities, where in many cases there are more speakers of a rare language than in the region where it first evolved. (more)

Pakistan's street cricketers bring game to life in Greece
4 July 2019 - In football-loving Greece, cricket is an alien concept. But for its migrants from Pakistan, one of the world's most cricket-crazy nations, it is a way of life. ... With the Cricket World Cup under way, they compete in local tape-ball tournaments, and homes and restaurants are abuzz with fans. ... Mehdi Khan Choudhry, a mechanical engineer and cricket coach, has long campaigned for a ground in Athens and wants to open a cricket academy. Beyond the enjoyment the sport brings, he said, it helps forge camaraderie with migrants from other cricket-playing nations including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and even India, Pakistan's archrival on and off the pitch. (more)

Why blue jeans are going green
4 July 2019 - As consumers become ever more concerned about environmental and ethical issues, pioneers in the global denim industry are cleaning up its act. Transparency has become a buzzword in fashion of late, with labels keen to show their best practice, both in terms of how well they treat staff and how environmentally friendly they are. (more)

Austrian parliament backs EU's first total ban of weedkiller glyphosate
2 July 2019 - Austria's lower house of parliament passed a bill on Tuesday [2 July] banning all uses of the weedkiller glyphosate, the first time a European Union country has taken such strong action against the chemical over concerns that it can cause cancer. Austria has embraced organic farming more than other EU member state. (more)

France returns stolen ancient artifacts to Pakistan
2 July 2019 - France returned more than 400 stolen artifacts to the government of Pakistan on Tuesday [2 July], including ancient busts, vases, urns, and goblets, some dating to the second and third millennia B.C. In a ceremony held at Pakistan's embassy in Paris, 445 artifacts were handed back to Pakistan on Tuesday ... 'It is indeed a special moment for Pakistan,' said Muhammad Majad Aziz Qazi, the head of mission. 'It is also an emotional moment for us. We believe, today, that a part of Pakistan's heritage is coming back to its homeland.' (more)

First battery-powered cruise ship sails for the Arctic
1 July 2019 - The world's first cruise ship propelled partially by battery power is set to head out from northern Norway on its maiden voyage, cruise operator Hurtigruten said on Monday [1 July]. ... The company estimates that the battery pack will reduce fuel consumption and save about 20 percent in carbon dioxide emissions ... (more)

Just in time for Canada Day: economy is clearly on the mend
28 June 2019 - Canada's economy has sprung back to life. A string of reports Friday [28 June] showed the expansion picked up at the fastest pace since 2017 in April and March; business sentiment unexpectedly rose in May, and mortgage growth is accelerating. The data add to a long list of recent evidence -- iincluding strong job gains and a recovery in exports -- showing the nation's economy is emerging from its recent soft patch, and perhaps even gathering steam. (more)

Scientists repurposed the EEG to detect brain activity in comatose patients
28 June 2019 - Electroencephalogram tests, or EEGs, are commonly used to diagnose epilepsy and sleep disorders. But researchers may have found a new application for the widely used technology: detecting brain activity in comatose patients. (more)

'Peace ambassadors' ease water conflicts in drought-prone Kenya
27 June 2019 - Across Kenya's arid and semi-arid regions, communities face intensifying water shortages, as growing populations draw water from sources already depleted by climate change-linked drought. Volunteers are being trained to show rural communities ways to use water more efficiently to grow crops, and how to ease local tensions over the scarce resource. (more)

Asian firms with women leaders deliver better financial results
27 June 2019 - Firms whose boards were at least 30 percent female generated more income from their assets than those with all-male boards. Companies with female directors outperform those with only men at the top, according to a study of more than 1,000 Asian firms released on Thursday [27 June]. (more)

Britain's new net zero emissions target becomes law
27 June 2019 - Britain's new target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 became law on Thursday [27 June], making it the first among the major G7 countries to set such a goal. (more)

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