The Global Warning of Australia’s Wildfires


Wildfire season in Australia has brought human and environmental tragedy. It also has sent a warning to us all. “There’s a huge, really very important message for everybody in the world looking at these fires,” Matthew England, a professor of oceanography and climate at the University of New South Wales, explains in the final episode of Global GoalsCast’s Season Three. “This is a glimpse into our future. we only have to take warming levels of the planet to about three degrees Celsius, which we’re not far off… We’re a third of the way to that warming…(and) the summer we’ve just had will be basically a normal summer event.”

In fact, 2019 was the warmest driest year ever recorded in Australia, with temperatures 1.5 degrees Celsius above the average in the late twentieth century. Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman speak with Australians to understand the impact of these fires. Catriona Wallace, the founder and director of Flamingo Ai, a machine learning company, describes the flaming hell that consumed both her family farm and the neighborhood around her family summer home. “It’s like driving through something from a Mad Max movie or through an apocalypse,” she reports. “It’s something quite terrifying and extraordinary to experience.” The frightening experience has prompted her to focus her skills in Artificial Intelligence on creating tools to prevent or alleviate fires. She notes, too, that with men in charge things aren’t going well in Australian climate policy. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and had a major hand in derailing the 2019 climate talks in Madrid.

Wallace says a new approach is needed, to balance the influence of the coal industry with the needs of other Australians. Wallace, one of the first women to have a company listed in the Australian stock exchange, points out that women are skilled at this broader, multi-stakeholder approach.

Empowering women to steward the planet is the goal of Pollyanna Darling, founder of the Australian chapter of TreeSisters, a global organization that raises funds to reforest the tropics and encourages women to seek leadership roles in protecting trees, forests and the overall environment.

“We have a political environment that’s not particularly favorable to environmental protection and care of the earth, which, because a lot of our economy’s based on resource extraction,” Darling says of Australia.

“From a TreeSisters perspective, one of the things that we have made it our mission to do is to help human beings to remember who and what they really are. And a part of that is remembering that we ARE nature and that without a healthy, thriving earth, we actually have nothing.”

Claudia points out that the United Nations has put Sustainable Development Goal 13, climate action, at the top of the Global Agenda. All three of our guests say they hope, and even sense, that the wildfires will encourage stronger action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Actions you can take are proposed in this episode by Rob Galluzzo, from the Lion’s Share, a project co-founded by UNDP to encourage corporations to pay into a fund for conservation and environmental protection every time they use an image of an animal in their advertising. Mars Corp., the candy-maker, is a founding partner.

In addition, Pollyanna Darling urges everyone to plant trees in their community and support TreeSisters ( in its work restoring tropical forests.

Featured guests

Matthew England

Professor Matthew England is Deputy Director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre. In 2014 Prof England was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and in 2016 a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Prof England’s research explores global-scale ocean circulation and the influence it has on regional climate, large-scale physical oceanography, ocean modelling, and climate processes, with a particular focus on the Southern Hemisphere. Using ocean and coupled climate models in combination with observations, he studies how ocean currents affect climate and climate variability on time scales of seasons to centuries. His work has made significant impact on the treatment of water-mass physics in models, on the methodologies of assessment of ocean and climate models, on our understanding of large-scale Southern Hemisphere climate modes, and on the mechanisms for regional climate variability over Australia.

Dr. Catriona Wallace

Based between the US and Australia, Dr Catriona Wallace is the Founder & Executive Director of Artificial Intelligence company Flamingo Ai, provider of Machine Learning technologies. Flamingo Ai is the second only woman led business ever to list on the Australian Stock Exchange. Catriona has been recognised as the Most Influential Woman in Business & Entrepreneurship (AFR) and as one of the country’s most eminent scientists by the Royal Institution of Australia. Catriona, an Adjunct Professor at the Australian Graduate School of Management, UNSW, is also a philanthropist, human rights activist and mother of five.

Pollyanna Darling

TreeSisters holds a piece of Pollyanna’s heart and she has been involved since it was a tiny seed. She volunteered for TreeSisters for 7 years before stepping into the core team. She is committed to playing her part in bringing our beautiful Earth back to thriving. Pollyanna has a project management, systems and entrepreneurial background, and also spent many years helping women live from their deepest wells of courage and have significant impact on the future of our planet.

Pollyanna is a mother of four boys, award-winning author, singer, passionate Earthlover, women’s empowerment facilitator, and loud laugher.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Coming soon!

Are your #SDGs looking glass half-full? Or half-empty?


It is that end-of-the-year time to take stock. Global GoalsCast doesn’t judge whether you’ve been naughty or nice. But co-hosts Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman do take a look at the world in 2019 and ask whether it is still getting better, or going to hell in a handbasket, as Edie so delicately framed it. She cites the failure of the climate talks and the rise of nationalism everywhere from the UK to Brazil. Things are not as bad as they seem, Claudia replies. In fact, the replenishment of the Global Fund to fight Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Aids shows that collective multilateral action is still possible. The world seems to be going in two directions at once, Edie and Claudia agree.

 To help sort things out Gillian Tett, founder of Moral Money at the Financial Times, joins the conversation. Some governments are dragging their feet, including the United States, Tett says. But Tett adds, “this was the year that business really stepped up.” The SDGs are a valuable checklist for business, she explains, and virtually every CEO she talks to wants to discuss the environment, corporate governance, and sustainability. This episode also features a special look back on some of the top Global GoalsCast conversations of the year, on everything from curbing global warming and eradicating poverty, to educating girls and aiding migrants.

 There is also a special Facts and Actions this episode, drawn from some of the best recommendations throughout the year.

 Laurie MacKenzie from our sponsor, Mastercard, describes how women and their families benefit from Mastercard’s digital pay project. “by educating and enabling these women they pass it on to their children and therefore that next generation grows up with a greater set of rights and education and aspirations.”

Image Credits: United Nations 

Featured guests

Gillian Tett

Gillian Tett serves as US managing editor, leading the Financial Times’ editorial operations in the region across all platforms. She writes weekly columns for the Financial Times, covering a range of economic, financial, political and social issues throughout the globe. 

Tett’s past roles at the FT have included US managing editor (2010-2012), assistant editor, capital markets editor, deputy editor of the Lex column, Tokyo bureau chief, and a reporter in Russia and Brussels. 

Most recently in 2016, Tett received honorary degrees from the University of Exeter in July and the University of Miami in May. In 2015, Tett was given an honorary doctorate from Lancaster University in the UK, one of the top ten British universities. In 2014, she was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards and was the first recipient of the Royal Anthropological Institute Marsh Award. Her other honors include a SABEW Award for best feature article (2012), President’s Medal by the British Academy (2011), being recognized as Journalist of the Year (2009) and Business Journalist of the Year (2008) by the British Press Awards, and as Senior Financial Journalist of the Year (2007) by the Wincott Awards. In June 2009 her book Fool’s Gold won Financial Book of the Year at the inaugural Spear’s Book Awards. 

Tett’s latest book The Silo Effect, published by Simon & Schuster in September 2015, looks at the global economy and financial system through the lens of cultural anthropology.

Dr. Narasimha D. Rao

Dr. Narasimha D. Rao is an Asst Professor of Energy Systems at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He also is a Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. Dr. Rao’s research examines energy transitions, climate change and economic and resource inequality. He is particularly interested in how climate change and mitigation policies impact poverty around the world. He is a contributing author to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, and the recipient of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for a project entitled Decent Living Energy – which examines the energy needs and climate impacts of poverty eradication in select emerging economies. He received his PhD from Stanford University in Environment and Resources, and has two Masters from MIT in Technology Policy and Electrical Engineering.

Laura MacKenzie

As Senior Vice President of Global Prepaid for Mastercard, Laura is responsible for developing, executing, leading and adapting the global product strategy for Mastercard’s core prepaid products. In addition, she is responsible for driving product solutions to deliver Mastercard’s commitment to the World Bank to include 500 million people into the formal economy by 2020 through the development and deployment of innovative products and delivery channels.

Prior to this role, she spent 12 years leading Mastercard’s US Merchant acceptance for core merchant verticals. Mackenzie began her career in fashion with luxury global brands Ralph Lauren, Ann Klein and Nicole Farhi before making a move into the financial realm with South African start up joint venture e-commerce companies. She has spent many years living and working overseas in London, Barcelona and Johannesburg.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Coming soon!

Imagine, if you can, industry leading the way to the SDGs


“Imagine all the people, living life in peace….no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.”

Those lyrics are surely familiar to you. They are from one of the most successful songs of all time, Imagine, by John Winston Lennon. Lennon, singing of his better world, voiced certainty that he “was not the only one” with this dream. Now, prominent corporate leaders have begun a new firm with the express purpose of making business and industry better global citizens. They have named the firm, Imagine, after the song. On this episode, Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman discuss Imagine and talk with two of the founders, Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, and Valerie Keller, a well-known CEO whisperer, coach and expert in transformational business leadership. With governments acting too slowly or in many crucial places gridlocked, more focus has fallen on the role of business in curbing climate change and achieving the other Sustainable Development Goals. Keller and Polman argue that much can be accomplished by creating “collective courageous behavior” by corporations working together to achieve what no one of them might take on alone. There first effort is underway in the Fashion industry and they talk about future plans for travel, tourism and, perhaps, even energy. Claudia observes that Imagine, the song, which was written in 1981, seems to call for the Sustainable Development Goals long before they were created in 2015. But Lennon also sang of “no possessions,” which might be a step further down a socialist road than Imagine, the company, envisions. Edie and Claudia discuss Imagine, the company’s place in what they describe as a movement to create a “better capitalism,” not replace it. “What we are really seeing in this world is that many people are dreaming for a better world than we have currently,” Polman says.

Facts and Actions “to help meet the moment…the decisive decade of the 2020s” are from a leading expert in sustainable business, Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR, a not-for-profit which advises companies on sustainability. You can read Cramer’s 2019 CEO letter, “A New Climate for Business”.

Laura MacKenzie, Senior Vice President of our sponsor, Mastercard, describes Mastercard’s work creating digital systems to pay garment workers, predominantly women, around the world. This protects their earnings and increases their access to the formal financial system. “many of the women,” MacKenzie says, “also have ambitions of their own. They would like to own land they would like to start a business. That’s what’s so exciting about this work.”

Photo credits: Hirsty65

Featured guests

Paul Polman

Paul Polman is Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, a benefit corporation and foundation accelerating business leadership to achieve the Global Goals. He also serves as Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, The B Team, Oxford Said Business School and is Vice-Chair of the U.N. Global Compact.

He was CEO of Unilever for 10 years where he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model goes hand-in-hand with good financial performance. During his tenure, Unilever was one of the best-performing companies in its sector, delivering ten years of consistent top and bottom line growth.

Paul was appointed to the U.N. Secretary General’s High-level Panel that developed the Sustainable Development Goals and has played a leading role since in highlighting the business case for the 2030 development agenda, including as a founder member of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. He remains a U.N.-appointed SDG Advocate.

Photo credits: @justinwu

Valerie Keller

IMAGINE Co-Founder and CEO, Valerie Keller helps leaders use their power for good. With deep expertise in transformation, she helps global corporations become purpose-led and future-fit — and convenes cross-sector coalitions to accelerate tipping points for humanity’s Global Goals.

Valerie is also an Associate Fellow of the University of Oxford Saïd Business School where she directs executive education programs.

Founder of Veritas and of Beacon Institute, she served as EY Global Markets Executive Director and CEO of US-based social enterprises addressing homelessness, healthcare and housing.

She was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and serves on the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board. 

Photo credits: @justinwu

Aron Cramer

Aron Cramer is recognized globally as a preeminent authority on sustainable business. In addition to leading BSR, which has grown substantially throughout his tenure as President and CEO, Aron advises senior executives at BSR’s more than 250 member companies and other global businesses on the full spectrum of social and environmental issues.

Aron joined BSR in 1995 as the founding director of its Business and Human Rights Program, and later opened BSR’s Paris office in 2002, where he worked until becoming President and CEO in 2004. Aron serves on advisory boards to CEOs at Barrick Gold, Marks & Spencer, and SAP, and previously for AXA, Shell, and Nike. He is also a director of the Natural Capital Coalition, the International Integrated Reporting Council, and We Mean Business, and serves as a member of the Steering Council for the World Economic Forum’s Board of Stewards of its Future of Consumption System Initiative.

Aron speaks frequently at leading business forums and is widely quoted in top-tier media such as the Financial Times, Le Figaro (France), The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He is co-author of the book Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World, which spotlights innovative sustainability strategies that enable business success.

Prior to joining BSR, Aron practiced law in San Francisco and worked as a journalist at ABC News in New York. He holds a B.A. from Tufts University and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Laura Mackenzie

As Senior Vice President of Global Prepaid for Mastercard, Laura is responsible for developing, executing, leading and adapting the global product strategy for Mastercard’s core prepaid products. In addition, she is responsible for driving product solutions to deliver Mastercard’s commitment to the World Bank to include 500 million people into the formal economy by 2020 through the development and deployment of innovative products and delivery channels.

Prior to this role, she spent 12 years leading Mastercard’s US Merchant acceptance for core merchant verticals. Mackenzie began her career in fashion with luxury global brands Ralph Lauren, Ann Klein and Nicole Farhi before making a move into the financial realm with South African start up joint venture e-commerce companies. She has spent many years living and working overseas in London, Barcelona and Johannesburg.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Coming soon!

‘My Number was 453’ – One migrant’s story


More than 30,000 African migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean. Ibrahim Kondeh narrowly escapes becoming one of them. But through luck and courage, he makes it across to Italy, although he pays a terrible price on the way. Claudia Romo Edelman and Edie Lush complete the story of this one migrant. “The story of migrants should be told more,” Ibrahim says in this episode.

“People tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees — seen as people who come in to steal jobs, criminals. So, as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. Positive stories can change the mindset of people.” 

Ibrahim encounters frustration and racism in Italy. But he also is helped along the way, particularly by an innovative use of text messaging called U-report. Tanya Accone of Unicef explains that U-report connects Ibrahim and other migrants and refugees with experts who can advise them when they are at their most vulnerable, alone in a new land without language our resources.

With the help of U-report Ibrahim navigates the Italian immigration rules and enrolls in high school. “A simple SMS,” says Tanya Accone, “can it change your life? I think Ibrahim would say, yes, it has.”

Facts and actions are offered by one of the creators of U-report, Mathias Devi Nielsen of Unicef.

“U-report is a tool for all youth to raise their voices battle stereotypes connecting youth to serve on a global scale. “

 U-report currently operates in 65 countries with 8.5 million uses. It is growing rapidly. Mathias invited companies, agencies, NGOs and youth groups to partner with u report to help provide migrants and refugees with answers to their questions

 * * *

The episode is brought to you by Mastercard, dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere

Global GoalsCast also welcomes a new partner, Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for film, TV, advertising, broadcast, and podcasts, including Global GoalsCast.

Featured guests

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh, is a young man, 20 years of age, from Sierra Leone. He lived in a village with his family, helping with the farm and local shops. As a result of his family’s huge sacrifice, he used to go to school there, so he wasn’t among the poorest. Sadly, he was forced to escape when approached by a secret society that “grooms boys to become men”, facing tortures and threats. He then went on a journey eventually making his way into Italy. He arrived in Italy as an unaccompanied minor 3 years ago at the age of 17. The way there was not easy. He was kept as a slave in various locations on this journey. His boat was rescued crossing the Mediterranean Sea. His arrival at a reception center for refugees in Calabria was not very welcoming, the center was very crowded and would not offer services, such as education, for minors. After overcoming these roadblocks, and even learning Italian, Ibrahim was recognized as a bright writer, winning renowned competitions, such as the Moleskine Foundation and the U-Report Contests. Once his voice was heard, he became a U-Ambassador and active member on the platform and U-Blogger on the move. Thanks to his active participation, he applied to Refugees Welcome for a chance to be hosted by an Italian family, He was accepted and is now living there. He was also granted the Never Alone bid for a 2-year scholarship at the renowned United World College of the Adriatic.

Tanya Accone

Tanya Accone’s career has focused on helping international public and private sector organizations understand how to amplify their impact through the convergence of people, ecosystems and innovation. She is committed to applying innovation for social impact and as a public good, especially with and for young people.

Accone has been at the forefront of advocating for and leading ground-breaking initiatives at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). As Senior Advisor on Innovation at Scale, she has led UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre to support 90 countries to identify, adopt and adapt innovative solutions that have changed the lives of 180 million children and their communities. 

Among these initiatives are U-Report, a youth engagement and empowerment platform that facilitates 8 million young people in 60 countries to speak out on development issues, support child rights and improve their communities. And UPSHIFT, an initiative that empowers youth to build skills and opportunities through social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Accone joined UNICEF to design the organization’s first internet strategy and led its implementation in more than 100 countries. UNICEF received the internet-equivalent of an Oscar – a Webby Award – from The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences in recognition of the excellence of part of this work. She went on to establish and lead the organization’s human capital futures and analytics portfolio.  She tweets at @accone.

Mathias Devi

Mathias Devi Nielsen is a Youth & Innovation Specialist for UNICEF’s Office of Innovation. He manages the Global U-Report platform, a social messaging and youth empowering platform aiming to increase youth voices in legislation and setting the global agenda. With a background in Displacement and Emergency Response, Mathias has been deployed for the past 3 years in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and North-East Nigeria for the International NGO Danish Refugee Council.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Ibrahim Kondeh: 00:00 My number was 453. Everyone has a number. My number was 453.

Pause: 00:05 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 00:09 The world doesn’t understand that we move because of reasons we can’t handle. And people tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees, seen as people that come into steal jobs, criminals. And so as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. Positive stories can change the mindset of people that don’t know anything about the stories of migrants and refugees. I think should be told more.

Tanya Accone: 00:42 You know, what does this mean? A simple SMS tool? Can it change your life? And I think Ibrahim would say: “yes, it has.”

Claudia Edelman: 00:58 Welcome to the Global GoalsCast!

Edie Lush: 01:00 The podcast that explores how we can change the world. This episode, we will cross the Mediterranean with Ibrahim Kondeh.

Claudia Edelman: 01:07 This is the incredible second half of our special report: ‘One Migrant’s Story.’

Edie Lush: 01:12 And what a story of courage and determination. We will travel with Ibrahim as he survived a shipwreck and encounters racism as he’s never had it before and how technology transforms his life.

Claudia Edelman: 01:29 Ibrahim really got it right when he described his fellow migrants as “true heroes”… And this is our chance to share with you – the audience – what is it to be a migrant and why we think that humanizing migrants as individuals can remind us that we all belong to the same human family, which is the essential part of achieving the Global Goals.

Edie Lush: 01:51 More on all that right after this…

Pause: 01:53 [background music]

Presenter: 01:56 This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by Mastercard. Mastercard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere. This episode we welcome Universal Production Music. Universal Production Music is one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for use in film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media including podcasts. Thanks, also, to CBS News Digital and to Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Pause: 02:34 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 02:42 Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush: 02:45 And I am Edie Lush. Migration is such a powerful economic force. Claudia, I loved your line in Marie Claire last year, when you said that migration is ancient, unstoppable and positive.

Claudia Edelman: 02:57 Migration is not only ancient, unstoppable and positive but also can reduce inequality, accelerate growth and development only if it’s well managed, which is why migration was included in the Sustainable Development Goals. To start with, let’s see, global goal 10 is ‘Reduction of Inequality’ both within and among nations and to help achieve that goal 10 calls on countries, let me quote this, Edie, “To facilitate or the least safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”, which is what the Global Compact for Migration is all about.

Edie Lush: 03:40 And as you know from our last episode, pretty much nothing about Ibrahim’s trek from, his village in, Sierra Leone to the North African coast was orderly, safe or regular. More like fate takes a hand meets the survival of the fittest. Let’s quickly recap that episode… It all started with Ibrahim’s flight from tribal initiation.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 04:06 I had to, like, fend for myself. The very first night. I slept on a stall at the Lorry Park.

Claudia Edelman: 04:15 Ibrahim’s story illustrates the plight of what the UN calls irregular migrants. Irregular being a polite way of saying outside the regular authority of police or governments.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 04:28 We were dumped in Niger. A huge number of us. Those that can afford it at that particular time had to pay again to move… we paid the traffickers about 300 or 400 US dollars to take us to Tripoli. They told us it will take us two days to reach in Tripoli, but we actually spent one week in the desert before we were able to see normal land or buildings… going through the desert you could see like fossils like remains of people that I’ve just been dumped left to dry out in the sand.

Edie Lush: 05:08 And before reaching their promised destination of Tripoli. The journey comes to an unexpected halt in Sabha that notorious hive of human trafficking.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 05:17 I couldn’t exit the gate without the permission. So he’s like, you have to work in order to pay for… like a ransom actually. So I was there for a couple of months, like working daily…

Claudia Edelman: 05:31 Like so much of Ibrahim’s journey. Faith was to play its part in the next stage…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 05:37 Every Friday, 26 people are supposed to leave. And so, one evening while they were counting, they were only 25, and so they just saw me because I was one of the youngest little boys among a group. And so they just went: come, go with them. So that was when I had to leave that place. That was the only opportunity I had to leave on that fateful evening.

Pause: 06:03 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 06:10 And this is where we rejoin Ibrahim and Daniel on a Mediterranean beach in Libya.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 06:19 At the seaside, it was fairly cold and very cold. It was in December. We had to be outside and we would get food, a loaf of bread once a day. I was there for like two weeks because we had to wait for the construction of the dingies and also the weather condition.

Pause: 06:44 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 06:44 When the time came, one evening, around 12 to 12:30 AM, on the 12th of December, they called us. 130 to 140 of us that loaded in that boat that morning.

Edie Lush: 07:03 This is a boat made for 70 people, which was crammed with nearly twice that many.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 07:10 I was the first person that’s entered because when the boat came, I was one of the people that took the boat into the water. So the others you have to walk into water that you go to at a certain height you could climb into the dingy. We were from different nationalities. There are also people from Bangladesh, from Pakistan, there were some other guys from Morocco mixed nationalities and we were packed in this boat.

Claudia Edelman: 07:39 For months, as they travel North, Ibrahim and Daniel had been inseparable, but on that chilly night, Ibrahim sat alone in the prow of the boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 07:52 Daniel later came in. I wasn’t able to see or talk with him. The last time I saw him was before when we were standing in the line before I took the boat to the water.

Claudia Edelman: 08:02 The traffickers said a few parting words…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 08:06 They told this that this will take us three hours to get to Italy. That was a lie. The boy that was like moving the boat, didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t know how to use a compass and they just gave us two gallons of fuel. They say, well that will take you guys to Italy.

Edie Lush: 08:27 Separated from Daniel in an overcrowded boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 08:31 We were scared of talking or shouting because there was a group that we were praying not to meet. They were called the Asthma boys, a gang or rebel group that chases boats around in the water, catch them, take them to their own camp and then request for money and after these people paid and then they will load them again to continue. their journey. So that is their job, how they get their money. And then, we have the problem of the coastal guards as well, when you, are caught they take you to prison. So we couldn’t shout, we couldn’t talk to each other.

Edie Lush: 09:08 Three hour stretch turned into night and a day, jammed or choked, as Ibrahim put it into that bare seaworthy boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 09:18 We were choked up and some people were down, couldn’t do anything. And we came to a point where the tide of the sea was very high. So the boat was like swinging up and down. I was actually sitting in water, there was just like two long piece of board that deletes at the floor of the boat. And so because of the tides, a lot of water entered, it was really, really rough… [Ibrajim sobs]

Pause: 09:45 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 09:46 We saw them coming like in little speedboats come towards us. We were scared. We thought it’s was like this group that’s used to catch people and take them to prison. So we were scared and when they came and they asked if we have weapons or how many are we in there if there are babies with pregnant women. And so then we realized that they were people to rescue us, so everyone started shouting, crying… the boy that was steering the boat had to remove the engine and dumped it into the sea. He was scared. If they saw him, he will be arrested and accused of being the trafficker. As we were unable to go further.

Claudia Edelman: 10:40 A British rescue sheep had spotted them along with two other boatloads of migrants. The rescue workers asked Ibrahim’s boat to wait, but adrift in the tossing sea. Now without an engine waiting was easier to say than to do…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 10:56 A lot of people started becoming panicked and some guys were standing, some were shouting… and it’s become very chaotic, like, everyone was so worried and afraid. Then they came for the little children and the pregnant women, they took them out after that. They had to, like, start drawing the boat with a rope… but during that time the side where the engine was. The weight was so much down there because the waters entered and so it began to sink down. And so that was when some people decided to like jump into the sea to try to swim. The distance was long. So some of them that jumped couldn’t make it and when the boat started and like sinking. Other people were trying to rush to come to the front where at least it was a little bit higher. And that was how a lot of people lost their lives.

Pause: 11:54 [background music]

Edie Lush: 11:59 Only later, after he’d been plucked from the sinking boat and taken to the British ship, was Ibrahim able to grasp the scale of what had happened and the toll.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 12:10 When we entered the ship, there were many people inside that, people that they rescued before. On that day, we were about 600 that were rescued in that particular ship and my number was 453. Everyone has a number. My number was 453.

Claudia Edelman: 12:30 Ibrahim searched the crowded ship for Daniel…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 12:34 When entered I thought like he reached before me or he’s on his way coming or is on the other speed boat… so I started looking around the different people, I started searching… and he wasn’t there. And then I realize, yeah, he was one of the people that couldn’t make it. I wasn’t able to see him again. And then they asked us if we have any clue about the people that couldn’t come because they, they realized that some people had drowned and then that was when I started asking. I called out, I knew someone that is down there. We stayed there for a couple of minutes and then the ship had to move. I never found out officially what happened. If his body was found, I don’t know. Never had that opportunity… [Ibrahim sobs].

Pause: 13:28 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 13:40 30,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the past few years. 50 to 60 of those drowned that night, including Ibrahim’s friend from childhood, Daniel…

Edie Lush: 13:56 They had come so far together. Ibrahim and Daniel were so close to their goal when tragedy hit.

Claudia Edelman: 14:09 The ship took Ibrahim and the other survivors to Italy.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 14:13 When we arrived, we were taken to the reception center in Calabria for unaccompanied minors. I was given a phone to like call my parents.

Claudia Edelman: 14:26 On a borrowed phone, Ibrahim called his mom.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 14:29 The first thing she said that she thought I was dead.

Edie Lush: 14:34 She hadn’t heard from him for nine months, which then brought the questions moms ask everywhere.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 14:40 She was like “why didn’t you call me??? I thought something bad had happened to you! I thought you are dead!” She shouted so loud that I am alive. And then she asked, “where are you?” And then I told her where I was and she was like “how did you manage to be there, what happened? You didn’t call me all this while! How are you?”.

Pause: 15:03 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 15:03 My mom doesn’t know actually all the things that I went through. I never spoke with her explaining everything. I didn’t really explain things to her because I know how she might react to hearing that because she has blood pressure and so I don’t want anything bad to happen with her health so…

Claudia Edelman: 15:27 Ibrahim was alone in a promised land where he and Daniel had dreamed of reaching together. He was 17 years old.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 15:36 When I first arrived. I never talked about my journey because everything was so hard to explain. Thinking about how we were close and what happened or what I’ve been through… Those are memories, they have been chasing me like wildfires in the dry season, I could say. It’s so hard to think about. And so… as most times, I tend not to not to actually talk about it. It’s very hard.

Pause: 16:07 [background music]

Edie Lush: 16:11 And the work was not over. Physical danger receded, but Italy brought new challenges.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 16:17 I had that thought, that imagination of how my life will be like, how am I have my… the possibility to go to school. The Europe we saw on TV was: lights everywhere, beautiful houses, high buildings, and rich people. And then, in my reception camp, it is quite different. And mainly because it was a reception camp and we were many, a lot of people have to wait for each other to go to the bathroom. There were changes that were normal. Now it was quite understanding, right? A different cultural, different environment. In fact, it was in December. I’m from West Africa, it’s very hot there. And here it was super cold, for the very first time I had to feel that. But it was normal. And um, I had to learn a new language. These were all understandable. But there was one thing that I wasn’t expecting, like going out and people actually see from a distance and then go to the other side. Once I asked why and then I was told that we were first set of people of color, with that amount of number, that has ever lived in that community. So people were really scared of us, and that really pains. There are some people who were very rude that they, that walk past you in speed. Some tend to cover their nose. So all of these things were beyond my imagination. Mental and emotionally. It’s very, very, very, very hard. There’s no proper access to help for the people living in reception centers. And sometimes if you talk they will say if you think that here is very hard, why are you here, why don’t you just stay where your home is. These are people that working in the camp. I stayed there for 11 months when I was actually supposed to be there for three months. I bought into what they told us, but I was there for 11 months, like waiting for the documentation process and I didn’t have like anything to do. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school there, because by them they said, uh, my Italian wasn’t good.

Claudia Edelman: 18:46 To most of us, a mobile phone is a gadget, but to Ibrahim, it was much more a lifeline. But first, he needed to raise the money to buy a phone. As he told Edie…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:00 I had no money to do that and so the people that were running the camp owns the hotel. And so what the deal is like they had to offer us a job and we would work from eight in the morning until four or five in the evening and they would pay us five euros a day! And I went.

Edie Lush: 19:21 Wow!

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:21 Yes, five euros a day, and I worked for a complete one month in order to get 150 euros to buy myself a phone. I was so desperate to have a mobile phone because that was the only chance I could get to speak with my family.

Claudia Edelman: 19:37 But connecting with his family was only one of the benefits.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:41 So when I got the phone, I started like connecting to the internet, Facebook or any other social media. And also downloading apps, which I could use to learn the Italian language.

Edie Lush: 19:54 Wow. What apps did you use?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:57 I used Duolingo and um, several other free apps.

Claudia Edelman: 20:01 Ibrahim supplemented the Italian, he was learning on Duolingo with language classes at an adult education center. He eventually received a basic education certificate.

Edie Lush: 20:12 And with your phone you were able to use an SMS service that UNICEF is involved in, is that right?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 20:22 Yes, messenger through Facebook.

Edie Lush: 20:24 And what did you use that for?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 20:26 To ask questions, because, in the camp, the people that were running the camp couldn’t understand me that much cause I couldn’t speak Italian. So when U-Report came and told us about their platform and it told me that the questions will be answered in the language that we prefer. It was like welcoming news because I had so many questions that I wanted to know the answers to, pertaining to my documentation process and how I was living my life in that reception center.

Edie Lush: 20:58 How did it work? You had a Facebook messenger and you just started firing questions off?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 21:03 Yeah.

Edie Lush: 21:04 What were those questions?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 21:05 I sent so many messages, so many messages… on how to go for my document because the camp that I was living, they work so slowly, like, there was nothing moving. So I want you to know if I can do it myself. And then they told me that yes I can do it myself because the camp has to deal with so many other people that are seeking asylum. So then I started moving, going for my ID card, which I did by myself and so many other processes that I did by myself. So that really helped me in going through my documentation process.

Edie Lush: 21:42 Where there lawyers on the other end of your messaging service feeding information to you. Was that what was happening?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 21:48 Yes, they were lawyers that know more about how the asylum process works in Italy.

Edie Lush: 21:53 And how long after you started using the platform? Did you get documents to move on?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 22:02 Within five to six months, I was able to start receiving answers from the questions at the police office, and having appointment dates, or where to go for medical checks and um, to take ID cards.

Claudia Edelman: 22:16 And UNICEF did not just give Ibrahim a lifeline to lawyers, but also helped him get back to school.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 22:23 With the help of a lady that works at UNICEF, she sends me a link one day about this advert she saw that people are giving scholarships to young migrants and refugees that came to Italy as a minor. So I happened to apply and I was called for an interview and also the test. And I got called that I have been accepted. So presently I am doing an International Baccalaureate program, IB diploma for two years, and so I can renew my documents. I can have a student stay permit now instead of a job permit all losing my stay.

Edie Lush: 23:09 Claudia, remember Mohamed Yahya from the last episode talking about how so many migrants were chasing their dreams to Europe? Ibrahim may have left home fearing for his life, but that turned into the dream of building a different life for himself. Now, Ibrahim wants to stay and attend university in Europe, but things are far from certain. A change in government or rules for migrants could be enough to throw Ibrahim long term plans off track.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 23:37 If I was back home, my life would’ve been more stable than here because I was in school. I actually thought I’d imagine I had a great future ahead. Well here, I’ve lost so many years of school and I’m still fighting, although I could say right now on the right track trying to catch up again.

Claudia Edelman: 24:04 That SMS messaging service that Ibrahim used was part of something called U-Report. It was a big help for Ibrahim just when he needed it. Tanya Accone from UNICEF who introduced us to Ibrahim says that was the idea.

Tanya Accone: 24:22 We have a use of U-Report which is called On The Move and it really reaches out to young refugees and migrants who arrive with nothing, in this case in Italy, and it’s around how to help them at their moment of most vulnerability. They don’t know the system, they don’t know what they’re meant to do. They have no network and they’re incredibly vulnerable. They’re under 18, they feel like they cannot go to any official municipal body, or the police, or anywhere, for any help because they’re undocumented. You can imagine if you’re fleeing for your life and or you’ve been through countless situations of being transported from X to Y place, you may have lost or may never have had the right kinds of documentation that you need. So they also are not aware if they’re allowed to get any health services if they’re allowed to go to school if they’re allowed to be anywhere. Do they need to run from the police? Every time they see an official person, they have no idea what their rights are at all typically. And it’s about how can we reach and help those young people at their most vulnerable moment to claim their rights and to get them to be able to access services and to protect them. You know, what does this mean? A simple SMS tool? Can it change your life? And I think Ibrahim would say yes it has.

Edie Lush: 25:45 Not only did U-Report give Ibrahim access to guidance through the thickest of laws and rules covering migrants. This mobile phone message system gave him the opportunity to share and process some of the trauma of his journey and experiences.

Pause: 26:01 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 26:01 They made a competition for people to give out their views. It can be video, a song, whatever someone wishes to participate with. And so I had to sit down and like reflect on my journey and all the things that I have been through. There was no one that I could talk to most of the time. So I just used to write, just to free myself from that dark past that I had. So I decided to like to write upon it. And so when I shared it with them and they liked it, they said I have won! I won the competition! I was surprised that someone would like them. So that was when I started, I kept on writing.

Claudia Edelman: 26:49 Here at the Global GoalsCast we have been deeply touched by Ibrahim’s, courage, first courage, making his journey and then courage in telling the world about it. And we love his poem. An extract of that poem can be heard in our previous episode, which covers the first part of Ibrahim’s journey.

Pause: 27:08 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 27:08 Edie, this is a really touching moment for both of us, I think. A boy whose voice has never been heard, number 453, and he has this beautiful moment when he realizes that he has something to say, his story is important. His poem has been selected. I think that that’s such an incredible sense of, all of a sudden being visible.

Edie Lush: 27:43 Which is what we’re trying to do here on the Global GoalsCast. I actually felt incredibly touched that he chose to share his story with us when I still don’t think he’s ever told it to his mother and I think his mother has now listened to this podcast, so she’s also hearing some of it for the first time.

Claudia Edelman: 28:00 Wow. I actually have to admit, I would love to know if we can reach the mother of Ibrahim and let her listen to this, but hey, she has a blood pressure, right? Like I don’t know. I don’t want to think. I won’t. I won’t push that one.

Edie Lush: 28:16 Hang on. Stop press. We’ve just received a message from Ibrahim saying that his mom hasn’t yet listened to the podcast, but his brother has and he is going to play the podcast to his mom because she can’t actually use the internet yet. So…

Claudia Edelman: 28:30 Oh, that’s so amazing!

Edie Lush: 28:30 I feel like we’re connecting the dots. I feel like we’re gonna show Ibrahim’s mom what an amazing person he is. She probably already knows that though.

Claudia Edelman: 28:44 The most important part that I have realized through this journey of Ibrahim and Daniel, first of all, is that we’re all human. At the end of the day, having lost your best friend on a journey where you’re like trying to get something and all of a sudden you’re sitting down on the edge of a boat on your own, it’s such a human story. I can relate to that so dramatically, but at the same time, it stroke me how do you know like UNICEF and people like Chris Fabian inventing U-Report, you know like someone we know has been able to save someone’s life like Ibrahim. That’s amazing! And how many other technology pieces can we add to this equation to make them touch the life of someone?

Edie Lush: 29:28 Actually, I think it was your idea to have this whole season be called technology and transformation, Claudia, so well done! Because I actually think that this story is exactly that. Ibrahim was pretty much doing everything he could. This is a kid with grit, with resilience, with real courage and actually a lot of bravery and a little bit of bravado possibly to make him get across Africa, but it was a really tough grind until he gets that mobile phone. And that mobile phone was able to transfer that grit and resilience and that human intelligence into stuff that actually changed his life. Helping him get a health card, helping him find out about scholarships to an incredible school in Italy and helping him now go back to school when he had to flee all those years ago. It is incredible. It is a story of our times. That’s what I really love about the story of Ibrahim.

Claudia Edelman: 30:27 But overall like the transformation of technology. I can see it now out working on, for example, all their spaces just like not life-threatening, but also access to Latinas. Edie, Latinas have a huge issue with that technology being a friend or a frenemy when it comes to having access to capital. So Latinos create six times faster than any other group in America, small businesses. And so they start a little kitchen, they start a little business here, but they don’t scale out for more than two or three employees. And that is because we don’t have access to capital, we don’t have a credit history, we don’t have financial literacy. All of those issues can be solved by technology. So Ibrahim’s life and the Latina life who wants to scale up and none of us want to be that entrepreneur. You know, like becoming an employer, having 100 employees is all through technology. I think that in the next decade of action that we’re going to starting 2020, I think that technology has to be the center of everything we’re doing so that we can really achieve the Global Goals.

Edie Lush: 31:34 And I’m so inspired by actually listening to the stories from a lot of our partners from the World Food Programme, from UNICEF, from UNDP of how they’ve all started their own innovation centers and startups almost for entrepreneurs and they are putting technology in the hands of those people who need it but also who can transform their own lives.

Claudia Edelman: 31:55 The one thing that pisses me off dramatically is that we did an episode on migration at the time of the launch of the Global Compact for Migration and that was 2000 what was it? 17! And nevertheless, the conversation was the same we have to humanize the stories of the people. Migration is positive, ancient, and unstoppable. We need to understand migration as opposed to fear it. And here we are, Edie, two years after, one Brexit about to happen, the break of Europe through migration. You know like countries and countries divided by fear, migration being the biggest enemy and the elephant in the room. And yet we still haven’t made a lot of progress. It seems to be stagnant, if not more. I think that we should get every one of our listeners to do something. Think about someone that they know on a paid tribute to a migrant be someone you know in your close family or someone else. The way that we’re trying to do it here because I think that if we’re going to ever break the cycle, we have to do this together and if humanizing migration is the story, then we have to all be part of the solution.

Edie Lush: 33:05 By encouraging our listeners to do that, we can show how the power of technology and social media can break barriers. Tanya Accone at UNICEF has also told us that there are plans to expand this U-Report. 10 agencies across five countries are now moving to launch a version as part of the response to the upheavals in Venezuela. And that’s a great segue to this episode’s facts and actions from Mathias Devi. He’s using innovation specialist at UNICEF’s Office of Innovation. Mathias manages the Global U-Reports platform that has had such a positive impact for Ibrahim

Mathias Devi: 33:44 Fact number one, refugees are a wildly diverse group. Even those coming from the same country. I think this is often forgotten or people are surprised when you mentioned that you’ve sat down and spoke to a doctor, an Instagram influencer, and a member of an indigenous people on the same day. So the word refugee quickly refers to a stereotype, negative stereotype. And I think this is a good fact to keep in mind when speaking about refugees and migration issues. The second fact, knowing that Ibrahim has shared his story on this podcast, is that his story is just one in many and just like Ibrahim, the many children like him want to go to school. This is in fact repeatedly the single most important thing that young people raise when we speak with them through our youth engagement platform – U report. But more than 30 million children are displaced around the world. Who commonly lose between one to four years of school. And that’s a fact. Thirdly, trust is key. This may be more of a perceived effect than a hard fact, but I have experienced over and over again in this work. The trust is so important. Refugees are rarely looking for luxury, but for life, they can rely on, stable access to school, access to reliable services, trustworthy information about their situation. This is exactly what U-Report On the Move is trying to deliver. Reliable information about your situation and the place you’re in, advice in your legal status, referrals to accessible services and so on.

Pause: 35:11 [background music]

Mathias Devi: 35:13 So the first action you can take personally is to remember what a refugee is and what a refugee is not. Retire that stereotypical review of refugees and speak about these issues in the constructive solution-oriented way around the dinner table and in your daily interactions with people. Secondly, support youth to speak up and hear them. Whatever you’re working on, whatever you’re designing, whatever you’re promoting. Remember that 1.8 billion people in your potential audience are children and youth and that 90% of these live in developing countries. This group has lots to say and listening can both improve your work and their lives massively. Lastly, looping these points back into U-Report. I’d like to say that U-Report as a tool for all youth to raise their voices, battle stereotypes, connecting youth to services on a global scale. We’re currently operating in 65 countries with more than 8.5 million users growing by a quarter million users every month. The key to providing ever greater services and reaching more youth is partnerships. We currently have more than 350 partners worldwide, but if you are listening to this and think your company, agency, NGO, the local youth group has something to offer and want to get involved either at a country-specific level or at global level, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Edie Lush: 36:37 Thanks to Mathias Devi for those facts and actions and thanks to Ibrahim for sharing his story.

Pause: 36:41 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 36:45 Thanks for listening. Please like us. Subscribe via iTunes or whatever you get your podcasts, and follow us on social media @GlobalGoalsCast. See you next time. Bye-bye.

Edie Lush: 36:56 Adios.

Presenter: 37:01 Global GoalsCast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes, editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and our interns Tina Pastore and Brittney Segura. Music, in this episode, was courtesy of Universal Production Music, original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Kaity Crone, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by Mastercard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks. Also, CBS News Digital and Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

‘We are True Heroes’ – One Migrant’s Story


His name is Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh. He is one of thousands of young African’s who have crossed the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in search of opportunity. Thousands more have died trying. We usually hear the tragedy and the controversy about migration, as cohost Edie Lush notes. So in this episode, Global GoalsCast wants you to meet one migrant and to hear his story, from him. Ibrahim is a remarkable young man. Courageous, resourceful and, it turns out, poetic. 

“In plastic boats, we are choked up as much as they can

   just like fishes in a sardine can. 

Irrespective of our religions, we pray for God’s mercy. 

 For it was only by his grace that we made it through that great sea. 

A true hero is what we are…”

Ibrahim retraces his journey from his village in Sierra Leone to the Libyan seashore. A trip that took him a harrowing nine months. He started as a teenager running away from tribal initiation. But by the time he was done he had joined an extraordinary stream of humanity flowing north. 

A report by the United Nations Development Program shows that Ibrahim is representative of a large group of young migrants from West Africa. They are by no means the poorest or the least educated from their countries, explains Mohamed Yahya, lead author of the report. Indeed, they are prompted to risk the dangerous journey as their rising aspirations outstrip their sense of opportunity at home. Yahya urges both African and European officials to address this opportunity gap. 

This episode also features Ann Cairns, from our sponsor Mastercard. She discusses Mastercard’s Digital Food initiative in partnership with the World Food Programme to provide money to refugees to buy food themselves, along with other basic necessities. 

Featured guests

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh, is a young man, 20 years of age, from Sierra Leone. He lived in a village with his family, helping with the farm and local shops. As a result of his family’s huge sacrifice, he used to go to school there, so he wasn’t among the poorest. Sadly, he was forced to escape when approached by a secret society that “grooms boys to become men”, facing tortures and threats. He then went on a journey eventually making his way into Italy. He arrived in Italy as an unaccompanied minor 3 years ago at the age of 17. The way there was not easy. He was kept as a slave in various locations on this journey. His boat was rescued crossing the Mediterranean Sea. His arrival at a reception center for refugees in Calabria was not very welcoming, the center was very crowded and would not offer services, such as education, for minors. After overcoming these roadblocks, and even learning Italian, Ibrahim was recognized as a bright writer, winning renowned competitions, such as the Moleskine Foundation and the U-Report Contests. Once his voice was heard, he became a U-Ambassador and active member on the platform and U-Blogger on the move. Thanks to his active participation, he applied to Refugees Welcome for a chance to be hosted by an Italian family, He was accepted and is now living there. He was also granted the Never Alone bid for a 2-year scholarship at the renowned United World College of the Adriatic.

Mohamed Yahya

Mr. Mohamed Yahya resumed duties as Resident Representative of UNDP Nigeria on 20 June 2019. Prior to his appointment to Nigeria, Mr. Yahya was the Africa Regional Programme Coordinator for  UNDP between October 2014 and June 2019. Based in Addis Ababa, he was responsible for regional development initiatives in support of the African Union and Africa’s Regional Economic Communities. He has also served as UNDP’s post-conflict recovery specialist supporting UNDP interventions in
Afghanistan and Liberia. Before joining the UN, Mr. Yahya worked as a senior peacebuilding advisor for the non-governmental organisation, International Alert, with a focus on West Africa. Mr. Yahya holds a master’s degree in Conflict and Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and a bachelor’s degree in Politics and History from SOAS, University of London.

Ann Cairns

Ann Cairns, Vice Chairman of Mastercard. In her role as Vice Chairman Ann represents Mastercard around the world, focusing on inclusion, diversity and innovation.  She plays the important role of senior ambassador and executive leader and sits as part of the company’s global management committee. Ann is passionate about the role Mastercard can play in delivering inclusion through innovation and has continued to build new global partnerships with governments, businesses, organizations and NGOs including the World Food Programme. Ann sits on the group board of the Fortune 500 Company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and is chair of ICE Clear Europe. Ann has a Pure Mathematics degree from Sheffield University and a M.Sc. with research into medical statistics and honorary doctorate from Newcastle University. 

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Mohamed Yahya: 00:00 This is a story of pioneers, a story of adventurers, a story of those who say, my circumstances of my birth shall not limit my dreams.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 00:13 Some of the words that he said to me, I could still remember those like, “I really want to be a lawyer and when I become a lawyer, I’ll have fights against our corrupt leaders that are causing some of us to run away from poverty and stuff”… I had to fend for myself. I had nowhere to go. Throughout the journey, I can’t recall a day that I slept in a house, like a house where there’s a roof on top.

Claudia Edelman: 00:51 Welcome to the Global GoalsCast!

Edie Lush: 00:53 A podcast that explores how to change the world.

Claudia Edelman: 00:56 In this episode, we will introduce you to an extraordinary young man. He’s a migrant from Sierra Leone and so much more.

Edie Lush: 01:05 Claudia, you and I talk to our kids about how to have grit and resilience. I think Ibrahim defines those words. He’s not only brave, he’s studious and he’s a poet. He wrote this about the track he made across the Sahara and the Mediterranean.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 01:22 A true hero is what we are. We may not be recognized but that just what we, yeah.

Claudia Edelman: 01:29 A true hero… when you hear his story you will understand why we say that, and you will experience migration from the migrant’s point of view. Right after this…

Presenter: 01:39 This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by Mastercard. Mastercard is dedicated to building an inclusive world, in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere.

Ann Cairns: 01:55 The World Food Programme had a vision that they called it: Digital Food. In other words, actually giving refugees the money and the wherewithal to buy food for themselves instead of parachuting in bags of rice.

Claudia Edelman: 02:09 Later in this episode, you will hear about how Mastercard’s technology helped the World Food Programme feed refugee. And also we want to thank CBS News Digital and Harman, the official sound of the Global GoalsCast.

Claudia Edelman: 02:28 Welcome back, I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush: 02:29 And I’m Edie Lush. We have spoken here, Claudia, on the Global GoalsCast, about migration and the central role it plays in the global economy and in achieving the Global Goals.

Claudia Edelman: 02:41 There are 260 million migrants in the world!

Edie Lush: 02:44 And you and me are two of them!

Claudia Edelman: 02:47 260,000,002! And there are likely to be many, many more migrants in the years ahead. So we need to understand who the migrants are and why do they make their journeys. We need to understand the four steps of migration and the four milestones: from the moment of departure, the journey, the arrival and the return.

Edie Lush: 03:09 And sadly we don’t hear the migrant stories very often. What we hear about migration is controversy and tragedy.

Mohamed Yahya: 03:18 We’ve had 30,000 Africans drowned in the 4-5 years in the Mediterranean.

Edie Lush: 03:23 This is Mohammad Yahya from the United Nations Development Program. I asked him about the horrifying death of those 39 Vietnamese people in a refrigerated truck in the United Kingdom last week.

Mohamed Yahya: 03:35 The death of the 39 truck is a huge tragedy and a sickening one and I suppose confirms our data in terms of risk and I think more people will unfortunately take this risk. This is why a different system needs to be thought through, because these are people who are chasing a different dream… coming all the way from Asia and this current system unfortunately just empowers human traffickers in many ways.

Edie Lush: 04:01 Later in this episode, Mohammad Yahya, we’ll be back to tell us about the United Nations Development Programme report on what they call irregular migration from Africa to Europe and how important it is for all of us to understand what drives the migrants to take such risks.

Pause: 04:17 [background music]

Edie Lush: 04:19 Claudia, here we go with the Global GoalsCast lexicon. Are you ready?

Claudia Edelman: 04:24 Damelo mami! [Translation: Give it to me, sweetheart!]

Edie Lush: 04:24 Irregular migration. It’s kind of fuzzy. It means without documents or legal permission to enter the countries they’re trying to reach. Irregular in this story led to exploitation, modern slavery and extraordinary risks. All to pursue an aspiration.

Claudia Edelman: 04:43 We are all part of this story. We can look away if we choose and allowed choices to be made on fear and misinformation. Or the alternative that we want you to take is to learn about the facts, to learn about migration and understand migrants, whether they cross the Mediterranean, or the Rio Grande, or if they follow some new silk road from Asia. These people are people, people! Human beings with families and aspirations just like us.

Edie Lush: 05:12 Just like us. I was surprised reading the UN report about who these migrants are and why they leave home.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 05:24 [Ibrahim reciting his poem] We once had a home / to call our own / with friends and loved ones / now a thousand miles away. // We sobbed and cried / as we tell goodbye / for those precious moments / can hardly come by. // Living a beautiful life was a hope / so we dreamt of moving to Europe / with the possibility as thin as a rope. // [reciting continues in the background]

Claudia Edelman: 05:46 We want you to get to know one of these migrants the way we have gotten to know him here. His name: Ibrahim Kondeh.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 05:55 [reciting fades back in] We wanted to keep alive // we are like sheep without a manger / knowing that every second of our lives was in danger. // Forced to work without pay / and if you dare / they pull the trigger. [reciting continues in the background]

Edie Lush: 06:05 He’s from Sierra Leone and he is just the kind of irregular migrant that the UNDP wants us to understand.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 06:12 [reciting fades back in] In a war zone we came unstuck / we made up our minds and said no turning back. // In plastic boats / we will get choked up as much as they can / just like fishes in a sardine can. // Irrespective of our religions / we pray for God’s mercy / which is only by his grace / that we made it through that great sea. // A true hero is what we are / We may not be recognized / but that is just what we are. //

Claudia Edelman: 06:40 The Global GoalsCast team spent hours talking with Ibrahim here.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 06:44 [Edie starts interviewing Ibrahim in the background] This is my first year.

Claudia Edelman: 06:46 Edie was first introduced to him by our partners at UNICEF. She called him to talk about his use of an innovative text message service that helps migrants, but then when she heard his whole story, we wanted more! So our executive editor, Mike Oreskes, called him back and spoke for another two hours.

Mike Oreskes: 07:06 Okay, great. I’m so glad we were able to set this up… [Mike’s voices fades out in the background]

Edie Lush: 07:08 We took a lot of his time, probably when he should have been studying.

Claudia Edelman: 07:13 And even if the quality of the audio is not perfect, we think it’s compelling enough for you to hear it.

Edie Lush: 07:20 We have put this story together so that you can experience Ibrahim’s voyage as we did, from the beginning at home in Sierra Leone.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 07:30 I was living like far away from my parents because, at a very young age, my mom and dad sent me to the nation’s capital Freetown to go to school, because in the village where they we living in the provinces, there was no possibility for me to go to school there, because there was no structure truly. So I was living with my aunt in Freetown. I had the opportunity to see them only during holidays. I was happy going to school like, school was actually something that I was supposed to do, even if I don’t want to because it was like a priority. It’s something that was made known to me even at a tender age, because my parents never had the opportunity to go to school, so when I was younger they tried all their best to send me to school. So I could go to school, get good grades, and then eventually be able to redeem them from poverty.

Edie Lush: 08:34 In 2013, Ibrahim’s father died, leaving his mother with Ibrahim and two younger brothers. But his mother persevered. She kept working and she kept him in school.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 08:46 and so everything was okay. Everything was going normal.

Edie Lush: 08:50 Normal, that is until a trip home from school to visit his mom in their village in 2016.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 08:56 In March, I went on Easter holiday.

Edie Lush: 09:00 Which is when Ibrahim’s aspiration fueled by urban life and Freetown collided with tribal custom from his village.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 09:08 We do have certain things in Sierra Leone that happens during March, the dry season, which is mostly about cultural stuff… secret societies and because I didn’t grew up and my village, so I knew nothing about how things are done there. I didn’t know the rules. It was a time for initiation. Where, they have to catch boys and take them to, for initiation, because they do believe that initiating boys at a very young age is how they could prepare them to be, like good leaders. Anyone who is not a member of them is actually seen as a coward, so a lot of boys, it’s their dream for the day that they will be initiated.

Claudia Edelman: 09:52 What Ibrahim is describing are the tribal secret societies that play an important role in West Africa and those are initiating boys and girls into adulthood.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 10:03 I was not into that. The culture of the bachelor communities where I was born and, if my dad was alive, he would have forced me. But my mom who was there with me, she never wanted me to be part of it. And most importantly, I don’t like the fact that after the initiation, I have to be living with scars all over my body, because I’ve seen so many boys who have been part of the society. The have scars like everlasting scar is I will be with them until they die.

Edie Lush: 10:34 I’ve heard a great deal about the female version of these initiations because for girls, this traditionally involves removing the clitoris. I hadn’t heard as much about the male version, which does not include genital mutilation, but rather knife slashes that resemble claws or teeth across the back. Ibrahim wanted no part of this.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 10:55 So on that day, I was out with my mom, like at veranda of our house, and my mom has a little table where she sells foodstuff like biscuits, sweets. And so I was helping her pack in those materials into a box and then a group of men came around the town. So a lot of people run into their houses and I was out, I didn’t know that I was supposed to run because I’m not one of them. Because actually if you are not a member of a particular group that comes out on a specific day, you are not supposed to see them or neither be out whilst they are in a parade.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 11:39 And so, I was taken with them together with seven other boys from the village who got caught as well. We walked about two to three hours getting to the initiation place and I was told that I was caught not only because I was outside and I, I saw them when they came, but because I had to like represent my father to take the place of my father, because he was once a member, and it is obligatory that every first child of a family must take up the responsibility of the dad when he’s late. I wasn’t aware of that. I denied it at first but I have no power because they were huge guys. And so the initiation place was actually in a bush where it was divided into two places. Like the first side was for the new initiates and the second place was for the members of the society. Where I am during the day just stand outside. So under a big tree while they go on with some of their process, initiation process.

Pause: 12:43 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 12:43 I was there for about a week, together with different boys, and so every day they would go into town in search of new boys or food. So they might leave us with one or two people to guard us. That was when I ran away and I walked through the bush during the night, because it was night, until in the morning hours, like seven, I happened to like be on a highway. So I met with some guys who were loading some goods into a truck and I asked whether I could help, if they will take me to Guinea. The guy was like okay, no problem. So I helped and after we finished packing, we went to Guinea, until Conakry. I didn’t want to return home, because I was scared of being caught again. I didn’t know anyone that lives in Guinea. I had to like fend for myself. The very first night I slept on a stall, at the lorry park, and so in the morning, I’ll go outside like asks people if I could do little domestic work for them and get something, money or food, just to sustain myself. So that continued for several days until I had one lady who employed me actually because she sells mineral water. I saved up money for about three months and I’m moved to Mali mainly because of the currency rate. I was still thinking of like, how I can get something and send for my mom, so I wanted to get to a place that has a currency that is a bit higher.

Claudia Edelman: 14:44 After seven months in Guinea, he moved to Mali and there he spotted some familiar faces.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 14:51 One day I met with a group of boys who were actually from, from Sierra Leone who, whom I knew before.

Edie Lush: 14:57 Among these 10 boys was a friend from childhood named Daniel.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 15:02 I was happy because when I left home he was the only person that I came across who knows me, actually. When he told me about what is his journey was, I said, okay, you are my friend. I know you. So I trusted him that much. I said, well, we could start everything together. They told me that they’re moving. North Africa. Algeria in particular for work, because they were told that in Algeria there are a lot of job opportunities where people work in construction sites and it gets paid a lot of money.

Edie Lush: 15:40 Ibrahim and Daniel had made a pact to travel together. Ibrahim is no longer just a teenager running away from his village culture. He and Daniel and the other boys joined a great migration North.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 15:52 I agreed to move with him and so we left Mali. We had to pay with all the money that I earned from the work that I was doing. I paid from Mali to be taken to Algeria. So it was a full bus, very full bus. We sat in a group like people from Sierra Leone and we all just went to the backseat. We were there talking to each other.

Claudia Edelman: 16:19 Hour after hour. He and Daniel talked…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 16:22 Our discussions are mostly of home, like, how we left home… what our intentions when we might have money… what we will once we go back in our country. And he always has that dream-like he wanted it to be a lawyer. Some of the words that he said to me, I could still remember was like: “I really want to be a lawyer and when I become a lawyer, I will have fights against our corrupt leaders that are causing us… some of us to go away from poverty and stuff”. And so you can see like the passion in his eyes.

Edie Lush: 17:04 Rolling east across the Sahal neither Daniel nor Ibrahim could have possibly known all the trials that lay ahead, but they would soon learn that they had entered a very precarious world, vulnerable at every turn.

Claudia Edelman: 17:23 We will rejoin their journey in a moment with first a break, so that Ann Cairns from our sponsor, Mastercard, can tell us all about technology that helped the World Food Program feed refugees.

Pause: 17:38 [background music]

Ann Cairns: 17:38 We actually began in 2012 working with them on helping refugees as they moved from Syria into Jordan, and then Lebanon and further afield. Get access to food and the World Food Programme had a vision that they called it: Digital Food. In other words, actually giving refugees the money and the wherewithal to buy food for themselves instead of parachuting in bags of rice, basically, because the lands that they were moving into were very fertile and the first thing that we did was roll out cards so that these refugees could actually shop in local shops. And not only were they able to buy fresh food for themselves and their families, but also the self-esteem of basically choosing the food that you wanted to buy was huge. And of course it had a positive impact on the local farmers. Now, one of the things that we found out was particularly for example, in the refugee camps, we could track exactly what was bought and sometimes it was medicine by the way. And we could tell if the medicine was running out and actually get people to order more. But also we found that the highest amount of food that was bought was actually powdered milk, because with so many babies in those camps. And when we looked at that data and shared it with the World Food Programme, they actually could go and negotiate a discount from the providers of powdered milk, because they’re buying for millions of people rather than just each individual. So this is a great example of how you can use data for good and how you can use technology to actually be able to predict, what food you need or what medication you need.

Edie Lush: 19:25 Thank you to Ann Cairns from Mastercard.

Claudia Edelman: 19:34 Ibrahim and Daniel had joined the stream of migrants. The migrants were flowing toward North Africa, but in the eye of the corrupt and the criminal, that human’s dream looks like a revenue stream. Those migrants are easy to exploit. Their status makes it hard for them to turn to the police or other authority for protection. In Niger, Ibrahim and Daniel were told they were changing busses. The next bus would be right along, but it wasn’t, they were left standing in a parking lot with many others.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 20:09 We were dumped in Niger, as a huge number of us. Those that can afford it at that particular time had to pay again to move.

Claudia Edelman: 20:18 For two weeks, Ibrahim and Daniel helped load and unload trucks in that parking lot. But finally, they got a ride as part of their payment.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 20:29 So there are many cars because it’s like a bus stop. Cars coming from different parts of Niger and around some other countries. So we started to work with one of these big trucks. They used to move with goods from the capital city of Niger to the border in Algeria, so we sometimes pack loads for them. So we did it for two weeks or three weeks. And so the man actually said, okay, the next trip that we took to the border, he just left us there as part of our payment.

Pause: 20:59 [background music]

Edie Lush: 21:04 They’ve made it to Algeria. Ibrahim and Daniel scratched out a routine, squatting with other migrants in a partially finished building without a roof. Three to four months, spending his days with Daniel, sometimes locked in, other days allowed out to work.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 21:25 So in Algeria, we went to a camp like where many migrants… where many people from different parts in Western Africa were. So they just stayed there. In the morning, we’d go out in search of jobs. Where there is like construction sites, then worked throughout the day, and in the evening, there was a little store where they’d sell foodstuff. So every evening back from work, we’d grab some foodstuff, like rice, vegetables, and then come back to the unfinished building and try to cook. But actually waiting to cook, it’s always like in line because there are a couple of other people that wanted to cook as well. So we might end up cooking around 11-10 at night. And then after food, we draw our cardboards to sleep because there is nothing like a bed. It’s like it’s like an open space.

Claudia Edelman: 22:22 Ibrahim and Daniel met some traffickers in the camp and after a few months they decided to go with them East to Libya. But again, things didn’t go according to the plan.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 22:37 We paid the traffickers about 300 or 400 US dollars to take us to Tripoli, which is the Capital, where the port is. Where people used to move. But it didn’t, like, go as we planned. They told us it would take us two days to reach in Tripoli. But we actually spent one week in the desert before we were able to see normal land or buildings. It takes so long because one the distance and two, we had a breakdown. And uh, one thing about, about the desert, there’s no specific route to go. So people use different routes and some of them just follow the traces of other cars that have passed by. And most times that their security personnel, little soldiers or other gangs, that do chase people in the desert and always, they are always armed. And so, we reached to a certain point that we had to wait, where they knew that it might be a potential place where they could get in contracts with these different gangs. Another thing that is on, we bought it actually, people only knew about the amounts of people that die in the sea, but actually there’s a huge number of people that die in the desert… Going through the desert, you could see like fossils like remains of people that have just been dumped, left to dry out in the sand. People that died out of dehydration. People that just died out in the cars and there was no way to wait. It was just taken among children out and sometimes you just think about that maybe the next minute, it’s me. You have no hope of seeing the next day you just said, okay, I’m alive for this minute. Maybe the next minute. I’ll be dead.

Edie Lush: 24:39 Before reaching their promised destination of Tripoli. The journey comes to an unexpected halt. They’ve arrived in Sabha, a notorious hive of human trafficking. It’s hard from our modern vantage point to believe a place this lawless still exists on Earth. Ibrahim and Daniel asked the trafficker why they weren’t going on to Tripoli.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 25:00 He just told us that that is where his journey has ended, that we need to pay again in order to continue. And so we were then given mobile phones to call our parents back home to request for money before we could be free. And so people who have the chance to call their parents for money would then be transferred to Tripoli or to wherever there is the sea. And so I couldn’t call my mom by then because she knew that I went to Mali. But when I left Mali. She didn’t know. So I didn’t call her because she couldn’t afford to give me that money at that time. And that stress I didn’t call. So people who can’t pay will stay there. And then there are different building construction sites or works that happens on the farm. So if Libyans that live in that area, if they want like assistance or they want a laborer, they will come to this site and then ask the leader of the camp and then the leader would give out people to go and work in that particular place. I couldn’t exit the gate without their permission. And I would only go out in a car, in their car. That is when we are going out for work. And when we get paid, the money will never be in our hands. It will be paid directly to the leader of the camp. We would never have that money.

Claudia Edelman: 26:38 They had gone from being migrants to being captives, modern slaves.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 26:44 So it’s like, you have to work in order to pay for… like a ransom actually, so I was there for a couple of months, like working daily.

Edie Lush: 26:56 The business model of the traffickers is to move people long after they’ve worked for awhile…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 27:02 Every Friday 26 people are suppose to leave. And so one evening while he was counting, there were only 25 and so he just saw me because I was one of the youngest little boys among a group and so they just were come go with them. So that was when I had to leave that place. That was the only opportunity. I had to leave on that faithful evening to get out with other people. And then we went to Sabratha, which is like the seaside,

Claudia Edelman: 27:37 nine months after running away from his village on that day in March, Ibrahim and his friend Daniel reached the Southern shore of the Mediterranean.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 27:51 Throughout the journey, I can’t recall a day that I slept in a house where there’s a roof on top, I can’t recall. And so at the seaside, it was very cold and very cold. It was in December, very cold and we had to be outside and we get food, a loaf of bread, once a day. And so I was there for like two weeks because we had to wait for the construction of the, the dingies and also the weather condition. And so when the time came one evening around 12 to 12:30 AM, on the 12th of December, I still remember, they called us, we were about 130 to 140 of us loaded and that on that boat that… in that morning.

Edie Lush: 28:51 And in the gloom of that cold night, Ibrahim in the prow of the overcrowded boat and Daniel crammed in further back, set off across the Mediterranean Sea. Both tragedy and success. Lay ahead.

Claudia Edelman: 29:10 And we will tell you the rest of Ibrahim’s story in the next episode of the Global GoalsCast, but now we want to pause to look more deeply into how Ibrahim’s voyage illustrates so many similar journeys.

Mohamed Yahya: 29:28 This is a story of pioneers, a story of adventurers, a story of those who say that my circumstances of my birth shall not limit my dreams that I have for myself and if I don’t meet it at home, I’m happy to cross any barrier to achieve it. So it was really important for us to tell those stories and voices in a balanced but in a way that most people can access. We wanted that because we wanted to inform policy-makers that these unknown faces that we hear drown in the seas or exploited or enslaved in some parts in some North African countries. We wanted to put faces and we wanted their voices to be at the center of … of future debates.

Edie Lush: 30:18 That’s MohamedYahya of the UN Development Programme, explaining why his report included a series of video interviews with individual migrants. They’re actually incredible films. I encourage you to go look at them on the internet, as well as the findings from nearly 2,000 interviews with African migrants who had reached Europe. And one very important finding was that many of those migrants had a job at home or like Ibrahim were in school.

Mohamed Yahya: 30:47 That does not mean that African young people are not looking for jobs or neither doesn’t mean that employment is not an important factor. What it means is that the quality of employment matters and that people’s aspirations and the power of their dreams are much bigger than only economic factors. And then related to the risk itself, what was very interesting is if you go to many African capitals, you see a lot of the discourse around whether if they only knew about the risk, maybe they will not have taken this journey, this dangerous journey. But what we found was that although 93% of those who migrated, experienced extreme distress and found the journey itself to be extremely dangerous, but only 2% say knowing what we know now will not have done it. So the majority of them will still have come. This paints a different picture of what we hear normally. One thing we know is that the status quo does not work for young Africans or Africa in general. Africa is losing those, it has invested in, but also it doesn’t work for many Europeans who find irregular migration itself something that concerns them and a sense of losing control over their borders. So how do we move the discourse of migration to a new level with the evidence we’ve provided? And that is essentially, uh, what, what that report aims to do.

Edie Lush: 32:15 For me, the most amazing point there was that only 2% wouldn’t have done that same journey. Knowing how dangerous it was. That to me is extraordinary. By 2030, Africa will have 1 billion young people and Africa is not equipped to receive that amount of youth. They don’t have enough schools, they don’t have enough jobs. First cities, second cities, third cites are growing at the pace that is like incredible. And while economies are growing in Africa, so is inequality, and so you will expect more people to take the risk that 2%, you know like only 2% would not do it, to do more because their dreams are not confined, their infrastructures are. So as a society we have to really embrace the migration debate and try to see how those frameworks are really gonna be not only good to have, but essential to continue understanding what will be a natural trajectory of the population.

Edie Lush: 33:21 One of the recommendations of the report was to work more on these legal pathways, in fact to encourage when possible circular migration so that you can come if you want to go to Europe to work. And then if you want to, you can come back home.

Mohamed Yahya: 33:39 What resonates in the report is that this sense that young people do not feel that their countries offer them ladders of opportunity. A sense that there’s a ceiling or a fence, essentially there cultural fences, political fences and an economic fences. And on the cultural side is this deep sense that being young is seen as a huge disadvantage in many of African cultures. So if you’re young, you are ambitious, you are creative, in most parts of the world that would be an advantage. But in many parts of the African continent, there’s fences and barriers for young people. So that is what the story of the scaling fences is also in the sense that those who not only are they scaling legal fences in terms of coming to Europe and, and finding barriers to their dreams, but they actually come from or have already scaled several fences back home… and culture seems to be one of them as well.

Claudia Edelman: 34:43 I remember when we were, I think that it as like our second or third episode ever – sounds like an eternity back then – of season one when I was still working for the Office of the Secretary-General while working on the Global Compact for Migration. When we did this episode on migration saying: one migration is ancient, unstoppable and positive. And second that we need to get more on the understanding of the human story of what would be the circumstances for you to take such a desperate move as leaving everything that you know, knowing that is going to be horrible and nevertheless do it. So there’s a deja vu moment that I’m having here on listening to these and saying like we still have to do more to make people feel that they have the pros and the cons of migration so that they can make up their minds and understand a phenomena that is so important for our future as opposed to just dealing with the fear.

Pause: 35:43 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 35:47 Ibrahim’s story fits the UN report in another way.

Mohamed Yahya: 35:52 You’re not getting the least educated, low-skilled people. What you are getting is aspirational, dynamic, people who want to improve their lives. And that more will be coming. The trend is not one that over the long run that reduces. So it’s time to start looking at legal pathways. By legal pathways, we referred to the issue of labor migration. What do we see in that report is there is a need in some parts of the European continent for the labor that these young people provide. How can we put in place something that is manageable because of the irregular nature of the migration itself? It creates anti-migration feelings in Europe because no ordinary person will want to sense that they have lost control of who comes into their country. So once you have a legal pathway, we are confident, the irregular nature and the anxiety that is related with the ungoverness of illegal migration may go down, but it will need courage. Courage on both sides and it will need a new debate around migration. And we hope this report provides for Europeans a sense of understanding who’s coming and maybe a debate around what kind of migration Europe needs.

Claudia Edelman: 37:16 Understanding data, facts, stories. This is what we want to provide to you so that you understand migration at heart.

Edie Lush: 37:24 And before I let Mohamed go, I asked him to provide this episode’s facts and actions.

Mohamed Yahya: 37:31 Fact one is that most of the African migrants, they are on average more educated than their peers back home. Secondary under some university-level education. Fact two is that those who are more likely to want to go back after been in Europe or those who are working. This is really important evidence that making life difficult for them, not allowing them to work in Europe is creating the opposite incentive, of staying rather than going back to their home country. Another fact that it will be interesting is the risk of the journey, I mean is overpowered by the power of dreams of re-imagine in your future. So the 2% saying that knowing what they know, they will not have done it, is a very, very small and shockingly small, considering the risk that is associated with the journey.

Edie Lush: 38:24 And tell me three actions that our listeners, if they care about these issues, could go out and take.

Mohamed Yahya: 38:31 One is supporting the transformation of Africa, not through aid only, but through trade and other aspects. So the relationship between Africa and Europe has to be one of a mutually beneficial system. Structurally transforming Africa is one of the things that will then allow young people to want to stay in their own countries. At least give them that option. Second is that legal pathways are a really, really important. There is no getting out of this politically. It may be very difficult now, but the entire discussion around creating legal pathways, this is what the Global Compact calls for the open migration, creating processes whereby people can come through labor migration. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but it has to be legal. And then the final part is changing the discourse of migration from what it has been to one that is much more sober that is informed by evidence.

Edie Lush: 39:32 Thank you to Mohamed Yahya of the UN Development Programme for those facts and actions and thank you to Ibrahim Kondeh for sharing his story. And we’ll be returning to it and our next episode.

Claudia Edelman: 39:42 And thank you all for listening! Please like and subscribe via iTunes or whatever you get your podcasts from and follow us on social media at Global GoalsCast. See you next time!

Edie Lush: 39:55 And give us five stars! Don’t forget the stars! We love those.

Claudia Edelman: 39:58 See you, Edie! Safe travels from the desert!

Edie Lush: 40:07 Adios!

Claudia Edelman: 40:07 Bye, bye!

Credits: 40:07 Global GoalsCast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes, editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider, and welcome to our new intern Tina Pastore. Music in this episode was by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Kaity Crone, Aasheesh Paliwal and Andrew Phillips.

Claudia Edelman: 40:38 This episode is brought to you by Mastercard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. And thanks also to CBS News Digital, and to Harman, the official sound of the Global GoalsCast.

Maybe the Poor won’t always be with us


Is it possible to eradicate extreme poverty? Here is the remarkable thing. For the first time in history, the answer is yes. Co-hosts Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman talk about the new thinking about how to end the worst poverty. Macro solutions like growth, trade and migration still matter, a lot, they agree. But so do local solutions. Tanya Accone of Unicef explains how a failed effort to involve Silicon Valley in anti-poverty efforts produced a different approach in which solutions are developed with local communities not just for them. A good example from Uganda is Spouts of Water, which has invented clay pot filters that cost no more to use than the previous system of burning wood or coal to boil the water. Plus, Ugandans like the flavor! One of the basic lessons is that to help very poor people, often at the end of long dirt paths or isolated in slums, solutions must be designed for their situations, Accone explains. Context is crucial.

Edie and Claudia also discuss the meaning of two Nobel prizes that connect directly to eradicating poverty – the prize in economics for the new field of research-based solutions and the peace prize to Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, for his efforts to create stability in the Horn of Africa, one of the world’s poorest regions.

Ending extreme poverty is the first of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Edie points out that the idea we can even talk about ending poverty as a serious goal captures how far the world has come. Both proportionally and numerically, the number of poor people has been shrinking for decades. Much of this has been the result of broad economic growth, particularly in China.

But that’s left us with some of the most difficult situations, for example in rural India and sub-Saharan Africa. It will require sustained effort on multiple fronts to address these areas. 

Facts and Actions are offered in this episode by Saskia Bruysten, co-founder of Yunus Social Business, which invests in sustainable businesses such as Spouts of Water.

Ann Cairns, Executive Vice Chairman of our sponsor, Mastercard, describes their Hundred Million Meals program to keep children in school by making sure they are fed. The effort is run jointly with the World Food Program, a Global GoalsCast partner.

Featured guests

Tanya Accone

Tanya Accone’s career has focused on helping international public and private sector organizations understand how to amplify their impact through the convergence of people, ecosystems and innovation. She is committed to applying innovation for social impact and as a public good, especially with and for young people. Accone has been at the forefront of advocating for and leading ground-breaking initiatives at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). As Senior Advisor on Innovation at Scale, she has led UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre to support 90 countries to identify, adopt and adapt innovative solutions that have changed the lives of 180 million children and their communities. 

Saskia Bryusten

A leader in the social business movement, Saskia Bruysten co-founded Yunus Social Business (YSB) together with Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus. YSB is a Philanthropic Venture Fund that turns donations into investments in sustainable social businesses that provide employment, education, healthcare, clean water and clean energy to millions of people worldwide. Under Saskia’s leadership, YSB has also been working with over 20 global corporations to help them use their core competencies to address social problems. She was appointed to the EU Commission’s expert group on social business and has advised on Ban Ki-Moon’s UN MDG Advocacy Group. Prior to YSB, she was Co-CEO of the Grameen Creative Lab and a senior management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. She holds an MBA from the European Business School in Germany and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Paul Matovu

Paul has worked in multiple charitable entrepreneurial roles in Uganda prior to joining SPOUTS.  He brings in extensive experience in impact evaluation and has been working with SPOUTS for over four years.

David Yin

Daniel is the CEO of SPOUTS of Water, a social enterprise dedicated to providing clean water to Uganda.  He worked in the financial industry in the U.S. for over 5 years prior to joining SPOUTS of Water. He has previous experience in scaling internal and financial operations in SMEs and has been leading SPOUTS for the past two years.

Ann Cairns

In her role as Vice Chairman Ann represents Mastercard around the world, focusing on inclusion, diversity and innovation.  She plays the important role of senior ambassador and executive leader and sits as part of the company’s global management committee. Ann is passionate about the role Mastercard can play in delivering inclusion through innovation and has continued to build new global partnerships with governments, businesses, organizations and NGOs including the World Food Programme. Ann sits on the group board of the Fortune 500 Company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and is chair of ICE Clear Europe. Ann has a Pure Mathematics degree from Sheffield University and a M.Sc. with research into medical statistics and honorary doctorate from Newcastle University.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Helene Dufour: 00:00 Our goal is to make sure that the fight against poverty is based on scientific evidence. Extract from the idea that often the poor are reduced to caricature and often even people who tried to help them do not actually understand what are the deep root of the problems that are addressing the poor.

Tanya Accone: 00:21 People that had expert knowledge on business modeling on, you know, the actual filtration techniques but completely not matched to the context that we were asking them to solve for

Pause: 00:36 [background music]

Tanya Accone: 00:36 In innovation, we often say that technology is just 10%, but 90% is about people and so really having that people focus and focus on designing with, not for those communities is sort of a fundamental way that we have learned to work.

Daniel Yin: 00:54 The cofounders and the management team really reached out to the community and to see what they prefer in their water. After doing about three years of R and D, we realized that ceramic water filters was the solution we wanted to provide to the Ugandan population.

Claudia Edelman: 01:18 Welcome to the Global GoalsCast!

Edie Lush: 01:20 The podcast that explores how to change the world.

Claudia Edelman: 01:23 In this episode, the latest on global goal 1: eradicating extreme poverty. The fact that we can even have this conversation, Edie, reflects one of the greatest achievements of human history. The number of profoundly poor people in the world has been declining fo half a century! We’re that close!

Edie Lush: 01:43 But getting it close isn’t getting it done. Traveling this last mile may well be the hardest. It’s gonna take a new kind of thinking to end poverty and it will require the inclusion of poor people themselves in that thinking and in the doing. We’re going to tell you all about that right after this.

Presenter: 02:04 This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by Mastercard. Mastercard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere.

Ann Cairns: 02:16 The world really wasn’t designed with girls in mind, and education is one of those things where there has been an imbalance between the number of boys and girls going to school. Later in this episode, y’all hear about Mastercard’s 100 Million Meal Challenge, keeping kids in school by making sure they are fed. Thanks also to CBS News Digital and to Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Claudia Edelman: 02:46 Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush: 02:48 and I’m Edie Lush. Jesus said it, “The poor you will always have with you”.

Claudia Edelman: 02:53 Or as Moses put it, “There will always be poor in the land”.

Edie Lush: 02:57 But what if they were wrong? What if we could eradicate poverty or at least the very worst poverty?

Claudia Edelman: 03:04 Well, I was there, in 2015, when the United Nations said that it could be done! And the point was made dramatically. Ending extreme poverty was made the very first of the 17 sustainable development goals, and my former boss Ban Ki-Moon, who was Secretary General summed up the history when he said,

Ban Ki-Moon: 03:23 We are the first generation that can put an end to poverty.

Edie Lush: 03:31 It’s such a big ambition. I’m not sure we really grasp it. And Claudia, at the risk of taking the religious references too far, I went to the Bible of the Global Goalscast. My copy of Hans Rosling’s book, Factfullness. In 1800, almost everyone about 85 and a 100 people lived in what today we would call extreme poverty on less than the equivalent of $2 a day. But those numbers have improved, dramatically, and more or less steadily. In the 1960s, we passed a milestone, where less than half the people in the world lived in extreme poverty.

Claudia Edelman: 04:07  And today, only about 9% live below that extreme poverty line. So, the progress is amazing. And nevertheless, 9% is still about 700 million people. And those are the people who we’ll be talking about today, because we need to understand deeply what it will take to end extreme poverty now, that it has become the exception rather than the rule of human life.

Edie Lush: 04:36 Exactly. This is a very exciting moment. In fact, the Nobel committee’s awarded not one, but two Nobel Prizes this year for work that leads directly to ending poverty.

Claudia Edelman: 04:46 And we will talk later about those prizes in economics and the Nobel peace prize. But the big message was simple. Ending global poverty requires facts on the ground, on locally tailored actions and we have to take them now.

Edie Lush: 05:00 And to take a close look at these ideas. We found a guide at our beloved partner, UNICEF, a woman like you who really gets it.

New Speaker: 05:11 My name is Tanya Accone and I’m UNICEF’s Senior Advisor on Innovation at Scale.

Claudia Edelman: 05:17 There are two things about Tanya that make her a knowledgeable guide, I would say. First, is the way she grew up in South Africa…

Tanya Accone: 05:24 As someone who started off life in quite an impoverished kind of contexts themselves, I can sort of see that connections of everything to kind of Goal 1, because so many decisions that are really difficult for families and young people in communities to make have an underlying economic disadvantage as a major driver.

Claudia Edelman: 05:42 And then, second, there was how one of her early efforts to combat poverty ended up in a heartache and frustration. The big brains of Silicon Valley couldn’t grasp how different life is when you live on $1.90 a day. Well from that failure emerged, a new way of thinking about how to end poverty, as she told us…

Tanya Accone: 06:08 A number of years back, we were looking at innovation as an opportunity to do something different that really accelerates and exponentially improves our results and the capability to deliver more to children in their communities around the world with less ideally. And so we thought a place where that’s just a hotbed of great ideas and disruptive thinking is Silicon Valley and we want to disrupt development in order to do better. So what better place could there be than to sit ourselves down with some of the Valley’s, most cutting edge thinkers and think through these problems? We’re really interested in a couple of different challenges. So one of them is in the area of water and sanitation, and this is really key for UNICEF because in the development sector it’s one area that we are responsible for no matter where, no matter when. And we wanted to get ideas from people around how would you solve this massive challenge? Which is essentially also a massive market opportunity of getting clean water to people no matter where they are. And it could have been anything from water quality monitoring to monitoring with a water points or are working or not. So it could have been a mobile app, it could be geospatial solutions, it could be really practical filtering type things. The door was open.

Edie Lush: 07:28 And so what were the solutions that these folks in Silicon Valley had?

Tanya Accone: 07:33 If there were two characteristics that they had in common, it was one overwhelmingly just could not imagine the kind of context that we’re talking about. Even though, you know, we unpacked, here’s the persona that you’re solving for, this is what they earn. They earn, you know, a $1.90 a day, suggesting that someone is going to go to the local council office or something like that. That doesn’t work because the cost of that action, which seems like nothing in a industrialized country, is, is a massive cost. And I think the other piece that they couldn’t really conceive of was just what does living on a $1.90 actually mean? Cause I mean we all should know how much money that is, but I think it was just unimaginable. So to unpack, say a couple of the solutions that came out, particularly around water purification, we had a group that came up with a solution for a very high quality water filtration system that was intended to go to villages, but it was sort of the size of a container. So to get it anywhere it had to go on kind of a flatbed truck. And when you’re talking about last mile delivery, meaning that last mile, or in most cases, that last many miles, are winding pathways, their foot paths, and some cases, you’re going by donkey are going by, you know, foot, you’re going by bicycle if you’re enough to have one. So you’re certainly cannot be tracking something on the back of a flatbed truck. And there was another idea around how a version of that could be used in emergencies, which is another area that UNICEF is, you know, very involved in and of course has to deliver clean water in those situations. But the solution there was around being able to fly these in on helicopter. So flying in something by a helicopter is an incredible expense and that just doesn’t kind of compute when you’re talking about the costs, the accessibility, etc.

Tanya Accone: 09:28 And then when I looked at examples that people had for ideas for households, so not at the whole village, but let’s see, what could we provide each household to use in terms of getting safe water. And there are already a number of, of approaches that people use. So they use chlorine straining. I mean there were a lot of just very simple techniques that are currently in use. But instead what we got was a whole business plan that was sort of for a filter system as similar, but it was not. But some of that in concept to, a Britta filter, or a pure water filter and the business plan was that, you know, we’d give the jug and three filters away for free and then we were going to make money off selling the filters. And again, that had had no relationship to how much money people have, what they were going to be able to afford, distribution of these things, you know, not understanding, you’re not talking about going to the supermarket to buy a filter. This is not the reality that people are living in. And then of course, worst of all, not really thinking about the whole waste-stream. So after a month you’re finished with this filter. What exactly is happening to it? So I think there was just this fundamental mismatch. So people that had expert knowledge on business modeling, the actual filtration techniques, but completely not matched to the context that we were asking them to solve for.

Edie Lush: 10:52 What did you do next? You went to Africa in places where people were living in the lowest quintile and asked them to help you design. Is that right?

Tanya Accone: 11:02 That’s right. And we’ve kind of built on that where we have very much a human-centered design or design thinking based practice because with, you know, that’s really an important way of being able to level the playing field of ideas and needs, in a context where you’re pulling together many stakeholders. So it’s really important to, especially where you have representatives of those marginal communities that they feel as empowered and as equal to others that you’re going to bring into that same room. And what we found is by looking at and with communities and guiding was facilitating a process around them, exploring what their greatest challenges are, you can come up with much more relevant solutions that are immediately informed by the context. And what we’ve done is added to that the sort of the expertise of Silicon Valley but not in terms of you design the solution, but in terms of help us think through ways to, you know, strengthen this. And those are the things that have actually scaled most effectively to more places serving in some cases 180 million people today, some of them in 60 countries. So really powerful. And I think in innovation, we often say, that technology is just 10% but 90% is about people. And so really having that people focus and focus on designing with, not for, those communities is sort of a fundamental way that we have learned to work.

Claudia Edelman: 12:35 When we come back, we will check out how the signing with a community in Uganda produced a clean water solution that worked.

Edie Lush: 12:42 But first, here’s Ann Cairns from our sponsor at Mastercard to tell us about a program Mastercard supported to keep kids in school.

Ann Cairns: 12:51 The world really wasn’t designed with girls in mind. It’s been designed in a way that don’t really meet the lives of women and women as they’re growing up. And education is one of those things where there has been an imbalance between the number of boys and girls going to school. And what we’ve seen is that if schools are open and parents know that their children can be fed, then they’ll send both their boys and their girls to school. In Mali, there were recent funding challenges that forced 40% of the World Food Programme canteens to close down. And the interesting thing here was that the regular attendance of the schools that were affected fell by 90% so this really gives you a feeling that those parents are sending their kids to school so that they can be fed. And now Mastercard is the top funder of the schools in Mali and we helped the World Food Programme reopen the canteens and actually expand to new locations. The student retention rate for the schools increased to 96% from an average of 63%, so it was really very impactful.

Edie Lush: 14:08 And tell me about this 100 Million Meal Challenge. Why did you choose 100 million?

Ann Cairns: 14:16 Here at MasterCard, we deal in billions of people and… so to us we wanted to target something which seemed a reasonable goal that was going to affect the lives of children all over the world. There are around 80 million people who are hungry every day on this planet. And so by aiming for a hundred million meals, we were effectively feeding the world for a day. The really good news is that we’ve actually exceeded our target earlier this year, which was very exciting. And I think it really motivated everyone around the world. Our employees, for sure, but also many of our customers.

Edie Lush: 15:00 That was Ann Cairns from our sponsor, Mastercard.

Claudia Edelman: 15:02 Mastercard! It’s really great to have their support for another season! They’re so great and they have great stories!

Edie Lush: 15:10 Right? I feel very supported.

Claudia Edelman: 15:12 Yeah, I feel the love!

Pause: 15:17 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 15:17 So before the break we heard Tanya Accone describe how projects designed from Silicon Valley did not work for really poor people because they designed for the community, but not with them. But we found one of our partners that was doing things with the community.

Edie Lush: 15:33 Yes, Yunus Social Business. They invest in local businesses that help to improve living conditions. One of those businesses that they invested in is called Spouts of Water. And Spouts of Water solved the very problem of clean water. They had confounded all of those folks in Silicon Valley. I spoke to Daniel Yin, the CEO.

Pause: 15:52 [background music]

Edie Lush: 15:55 So tell me about SPOUTS and tell me about the technology that it has produced. It looks like a flower pot, but it’s not. It’s a filter. How does it work?

Daniel Yin: 16:06 Embedded within this filter, there are microscopic pores that remove all of the bacteria and protozoa from the water. So if you pour in any type of water, no matter how turbid it is, only clean water goes through and all of the germs and bacteria are removed.

Edie Lush: 16:24 How did the founders of SPOUTS come up with the design? I’m interested in how they worked with the community to do that.

Daniel Yin: 16:32 The whole design process was a collective effort all the way from our founders and our management team to the customers. The co-founders came in 2012 and they had the R and D process for about three years. So in these three years, the co-founders and the management team really reached out to the community and to see what they prefer in their water. What we found out is that a lot of families in the village, once they treat their water by boiling it or through chlorination tablets, they store the water in clay pots, giving it that distinct clay tastes, which a lot of families are accustomed to. So after doing about three years of R and D, we realized that ceramic water filters was the solution we wanted it to provide to the Ugandan population.

Edie Lush: 17:22 They use two types of surplus clay, yellow and black, which they buy from local farmers. Paul Matovu who runs SPOUTS, NGO side of the business knows firsthand the negative impact that dirty drinking water can have.

Paul Matovu: 17:36 More than 46% of Ugandans, actually, boil their water using the firewood or charcoal and they spend a lot of money. But also I was working with schools at that time before they joined. So there were lots waterborne disease cases in schools, because the schools don’t have the money to prepare drinking water for the kids. So when kids fall sick, they cannot attend school due to illness. So there are very, very many factors, but mostly to me it was mostly about the environmental, bit of it, reduction in carbon emissions, but also the social aspect of people not having to fall sick, people not having to spend on preventable waterborne diseases.

Edie Lush: 18:17 I asked Daniel how much these filters cost.

Daniel Yin: 18:21 Our filter costs around $24 and because we’re the only local manufacturer here in Uganda, we’re able to provide the filter at less than one third of the other imported water filters sold here. To make this even more affordable to the population here in Uganda, we offer a financing plan as well. So and that requires, you know, just a $7 down payment with the weekly payment of one and a half dollars. With this financing plan we’re able to reach even the base of the pyramid customers.

Paul Matovu: 18:54 You know, most people know buy firewood and charcoal to boil their water. And so our impact reports actually show that households save a lot of money by using our, our product.

Edie Lush: 19:07 The weekly cost of the Spout System is no more than and is often less than the cost of fuel to boil the water, which is what people were doing before.

Pause: 19:19 [background music]

Paul Matovu: 19:19 We installed water filters on islands and other rural communities. Last year alone, we stored over 30,000 filters in more than 4,000 households. One of our pilot programs was on the island called Bavooma Island. It’s on Lake Victoria, where people were suffering from biohazia and there were also many cases of diarrhea and typhoid. So we partnered with RTI, which is an international organization that has an office here in Uganda, and we found that after our intervention, the kids attendance in class increased by over 36%. This was attributed to the fact that, uh, about 98% of the students who are now taking water from our filter. And so, uh, beyond just the statistics there is this particular lady, I remember the name, she’s called Joy, she’s over 80 years old and she has more than five grandchildren. And prior to our intervention she had reported very many cases of diarrhea and typhoid. But then after one year of using our product, she reported that uh, high expenditure on waterborne diseases had reduced drastically and also she didn’t have to spend money to treat her kids, her grandchildren for typhoid, diarrhea, and other waterborne related diseases.

Edie Lush: 20:44 How much money did they save?

Paul Matovu: 20:46 So on average households spend between $1.60 US dollars actually to $3 dollars per week just spent on boiling.

Edie Lush: 20:55 How do you think this filter helps to overcome extreme poverty?

Paul Matovu: 21:01 Wow. Um, when I think about poverty and how it affects our communities. It’s not just about people not having the money, but it’s also about people having to unnecessarily spend the little money they have on treating preventative waterborne diseases. So our product has helped people. One to not spend money on boiling, but also not to spend money on treating what have one diseases like diarrhea and typhoid. We have some cases where people spend more than $50 just treating typhoid. These are very, very underserved and impoverished communities. So I’m convinced that people are saving a lot of money in different ways. The other bit is that time is money. So when people saving more of their time, they can use the time to make more money. We found that it’s mostly women and the girl children who do the preparation of drinking water and so on. The side of the ladies where they use this time for is to go and participate in more economic activities. I would say like farming or crafting stuff that they can sell in the market. On the side of the kids, they use the time to read their books.

Claudia Edelman: 22:17 Once again, this captures how making progress in one area can lead to making progress in another. So progress on clean water leads to progress on keeping kids in school. Plus, less water boiled means less carbon used and you get the idea.

Edie Lush: 22:34 It’s like a virtuous circle. Like the SDGs. In fact, I asked Tanya at UNICEF whether innovation done within the right context is enough on its own to eradicate extreme poverty.

Tanya Accone: 22:47 No, it is not. Um, I think another couple of lessons that we have learned, um, but I think we’ve always have known that from the start is um, and it’s uh, it’s often said to be an African proverb, but as an African I tell you, I’m not sure that it is an African proverb, but you know, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We’ve learned we need to go together. And that means being very rooted and making sure that you have experts in the context that you are designing with and for there together with strong partnerships from the best minds, you know in Silicon Valley, I’m using that as a, as a proxy for the private sector, for other kinds of public sector innovation and those parts of the ecosystem are incredibly, incredibly important. So you really need to be involving the entire ecosystem because you know the kinds of of challenges that we all are looking at triumphing over together in terms of the SDGs and you know, poverty reduction just being one but an incredibly important one. We can’t do that in a piecemeal way. So connecting, catalyzing and really collaborating is essential. We welcome people to reach out to us and explore how could we work together on something that would actually help to change the trajectory in a positive way of reaching the SDGs.

Claudia Edelman: 24:10 That’s our mantra, Edie, at the Global GoalsCast! It is all connected! We can only make it together! We only win when we all win!

Edie Lush: 24:21 Winner, winner chicken dinner. Speaking of which, there was big news this week about the Nobel Prizes.

Claudia Edelman: 24:28 I like the chicken connection to the Nobel Prizes, but I agree. Yes. There was this announcement from the chair of the Norwegian level committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen.

Berit Andersen: 24:39 As prime minister, Abyi Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. The Norwegian Nobel committee hopes that the Nobel Prize will strengthen Prime Minister Abyi in his important work for peace and reconciliation. A peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side effects.

Claudia Edelman: 25:09 This fits right into our conversation about Goal 1 and eradicating poverty. I remember our episode about conflict and hunger. Conflict is one of the prime sources of poverty and hunger, so eliminating conflict in the horn of Africa opens a road not only to peace but also to eradicating poverty.

Edie Lush: 25:29 And that region from the horn of Africa West across the Sahel along the Southern Sahara desert remains one of the poorest and most stripe torn regions in the world.

Claudia Edelman: 25:39 The Ethiopian economy is already one of the fastest growing economies in the world and that is reducing poverty. But 20% of the population, which is more than 20 million people, by the way, still live below the poverty line. Many still don’t have clean water and of course conflict and violence have been around them all the time. So to leave the Ethiopians and the rest of the region out of poverty, we need both: an end to conflict and the innovation of homegrown solutions that Tanya Accone describe to us.

Edie Lush: 26:10 In just a few days after the prize to prime minister Abyi, a second Nobel Prize was announced that goes right to the question of finding approaches that work.

P. Fredrickson: 26:20 So this year’s prize in economic sciences is about alleviating global poverty or how to reduce global poverty is a fundamental but also daunting question. Effective policy alleviation requires that we can answer these questions and the most credible way of answering them is to try particular interventions in field experiments. This experimental approach has completely reshaped research in development economics. The results have a clear impact on policy and keeps improving our ability to fight global poverty.

Edie Lush: 26:58 That was Peter Fredrickson, chair of the Economics Award Committee, one of the three winners. Helene Dufour is a professor at MIT and she described her work,

Helene Dufour: 27:09 Our goal is to make sure that the fight against poverty is based on scientific evidence. It starts from the idea that often the poor are reduced to caricature and often people who tried to help them do not actually understand what are the deep root the problems that are addressing the poor. Poor people are supposed to be either completely desperate or lazy, or entrepreneurial, but we don’t try to understand the deep root and interconnected root of poverty. So what we tried to do in our approaches to say, look, let’s try and unpack the problem one by one and address them as vigorously and scientifically as possible. And that’s how we developed and use the experimental approach to better understand what are the reasons for particular problems. For example, the learning crisis that Professor Fredrickson was talking about and what can be done about it, what works, what doesn’t work and why.

Edie Lush: 28:11 Professor Dufour pointed out that while international assistance can be helpful, particularly during natural disasters or pandemic disease outbreaks, most of the resources for ending poverty will come from individual countries themselves.

Claudia Edelman: 28:25 Which of course is why they must use those resources wisely and effectively.

Edie Lush: 28:29 Which is another way of saying what Tanya Accone was saying. That context is king and what Helene Dufour and her two economics colleagues are saying when they insist that the fight to end poverty be based on solid field research and not just good intentions.

Claudia Edelman: 28:44 What I like is there seems to be a real urgency, like momentum, traction in the announcements to awarding these prices now to send a message, not just to give an honor.

Edie Lush: 28:55 And the three economists are decades younger than the typical Nobel winners and prime minister Abyi has only been in office a year.

Claudia Edelman: 29:04 Yes, but it’s been quite a year! In his first year in office, Prime Minister Abyi ended the border conflict with Eritrea and worked to resolve all the regional conflicts which believe me are so deep and complicated. And he also took strong steps to open Ethiopia to economic and political change. He freed journalists from prison, welcomed dissidents back, and he has promised free elections next year. And Edie, we shouldn’t actually believe the honeymoon, but I am very optimistic about what’s happening these first year for Ethiopia.

Edie Lush: 29:36 Let’s not forget that he’s brought many more women into government as well.

Claudia Edelman: 29:40 Yes. As well as representatives of every religion, language and ethnic group, of which Ethiopia has many and that is a kind of inclusion that can sport innovations! And Ethiopia is so wonderful, so big on powerful, Edie!

Edie Lush: 29:57 I really want to go there and I think that we should go interview prime minister Abyi. What do you think he should invite us to come?

Claudia Edelman: 30:04 Prime Minister Abyi, if you’re listening to this episode, consider these an open, uh, space for you to send us an invitation for the Global GoalsCast with him in Ethiopia.

Edie Lush: 30:16 The Nobel committee made it clear they had chosen Prime Minister Abyi to inspire support for his goals as much as to honor what he’s achieved so far. And Professor Dufour accepted the award on behalf of what she called the movement for researched-based development policy.

Claudia Edelman: 30:33 There’s some sort of debate among some economists, Edie. Some point out that most of that extraordinary progress in ending poverty is simply the result of growth. As countries get richer, individuals become well at least less poor. So they argue that free markets, migration and trade will do the most to end poverty, not any other SDG policy.

Edie Lush: 30:57 It’s not either or, right? Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Of course that helps, but without peace there would never be prosperity for everyone. How’s this going to turn out? Will these prices look prescient or premature? Can poverty really be eradicated in 10 years?

Claudia Edelman: 31:16 Well, we believe so. We absolutely… Were like on the optimistic team here. We’re on the possibilistic team here. If we would actually follow the SDGs and we accomplished the 17 goals and the 169 indicators, by the majority of the world, we will eradicate extreme poverty from the world completely! But what we cannot promise is that people will do it, that countries will follow it. What we can promise is to follow the fight to end poverty right through 2030 in future episodes of the Global GoalsCast.

Claudia Edelman: 31:54 Now for the section of this show where we give you the three facts that you can show off with your mother-in-law and the three actions to guide your to do list for today…

Edie Lush: 32:03 I actually do want to know is your mother-in-law impressed when you show off with the three facts?

Claudia Edelman: 32:12 [laughter] I do showoff with some facts. I tell you there’s no sexier thing than to have some data points to back up any evidence in there in the argument.

Edie Lush: 32:20 So you heard it here. Data is sexy! [laughter] Okay, so joining us for that welcome. Saskia Bruysten, co-founder and CEO, Yunus Social Business.

Saskia Bruysten: 32:33 The first fact is that there is some great progress happening. Extreme poverty has halved in the last two decades. That is fantastic news, but we need to keep in mind that moving out of this bracket still means to only live on $1.90 a day. If the world managed to cut this number by half, we should be able to reduce the amount of poverty to zero by 2030. My second fact is that last year, 26 individuals earned the same amount of money as 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. Despite the fact that extreme poverty has been going down, inequality has still been rising. Billionaires now have more wealth than ever before. While only 5% of all new income generated from the global growth trickles down to the poorest 60%. My third fact is that poverty can be addressed by business. This may not seem logical at first, but we actually really need business if we want to make big changes. You’ve heard earlier in the episode about Spouts of Water, which addresses one problem of poverty, the lack of access of clean drinking water through a social business approach. But there are many other social business companies around the world that address important issues like clean energy, health, education, or even just creating income or jobs for poor or the marginalized. I wanted to leave you with three concrete actions that you can take yourself. So number one, to find out more about practical social business solutions, to end extreme poverty, please read my co-founder, Mohammad Yunus’ book: “A World of Three Zeros”. Number two, make sure your own savings, however small they may be, are invested in socially and environmentally responsible fund. Ask your banker or consider investing yourself in a social business that actively makes a change in the world. Go to organizations like Kiva… or go to Yunus Social Business funds. Number three, start your own social business or get your organization involved. Pick a problem that you want to tackle yourself and that you’re passionate about and start a company that addresses it. Or if you work for a large corporation, reach out to your CEO or your department, or your innovation team and ask them to consider setting up a social business.

Claudia Edelman: 35:17 This was incredible. Thank you to our guests and thank you all for listening. Please, like and subscribe via iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts from.

Edie Lush: 35:28 And give us five stars. We love the stars!

Claudia Edelman: 35:30 And follow us on social media @Global GoalsCast and see you next time.

Edie Lush: 35:34 Adios. Have fun in San Francisco.

Claudia Edelman: 35:37 Bye!

Presenter: 35:42 Global GoalsCast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider. And welcome to our new intern, Tina Pastore. Music in this episode was by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crone, Ashish Paliwal, and Andrew Phillips. This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by Mastercard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks, also, to CBS News Digital and to Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Greta, CEOs join Global GoalsCast to Save the Planet


Is the zeitgeist shifting toward action to curb global warming and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals? Veteran Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett joins Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman to consider that question in the aftermath of the United Nation’s climate summit and General Assembly. While the actions of governments were disappointing, they see a new attitude among many businesses, who were far more engaged in UN activity this year. “The balance of risks in the eyes of many business executives have shifted,” says Tett. Many executives now think it is “riskier to stand on the sidelines and do nothing than to actually be involved in some of these social and climate change movements,” Tett reports. The challenge now is not whether to act but how. Edie completes her visit with Professor John Sterman at MIT, whose En-Roads computer model of the climate lets Edie identify policy actions that will hold contain heating of the atmosphere. “The conclusion here is it is, technically, still possible to limit expected warming to 1.5” degrees Celsius, Sterman concludes.

Facts and Actions come this week from Bradley Tusk, venture capitalist, political strategist, writer and host of the podcast, Firewall, which looks at the intersection of tech, politics and culture.

This episode is sponsored by BSR, a non-profit working with member companies to support corporate social responsibility. Check out their upcoming event here:

Featured guests

John Sterman

John Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems and Society, and director of the MIT System Dynamics Group and MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. Prof. Sterman has published approximately 200 works spanning corporate strategy and operations, energy policy, public health, and climate change. Author of award-winning books and papers, he pioneered the development of interactive “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems, which are now used by governments, corporations, and universities around the world. These include the En-ROADS and CROADS energy and climate policy simulations, developed in partnership with the non-profit, Climate Interactive, which have been used by policymakers, negotiators, business and civil society leaders, educators and the public around the world. 

Max Boykoff

Maxwell T. Boykoff is an Associate Professor in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He teaches in the Environmental Studies program and is Adjunct Faculty in the Geography department. In addition, he is a Senior Visiting Research Associate in the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. Max has ongoing interests in climate adaptation, cultural politics and environmental governance, science-policy interactions, and political economy and the environment. His research has been mentioned in a range of outlets such as Science, Nature, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Grist, Utne Reader, La Razon (Spain) and National Public Radio (US). Check out his new book Creative (Climate) Communications: Productive Pathways for Science, Policy and Society and follow him on tweeter @boykoff

Bradley Tusk

Bradley Tusk is a venture capitalist who protects startups from political risk. He is the CEO and founder of Tusk Ventures, the first venture capital fund dedicated to working with and investing in startups in regulated industries. His fund, Tusk Ventures, has now worked with and invested in dozens of startups like Bird, FanDuel, Lemonade, Circle and Ripple. Bradley previously served as Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign manager in New York City, Deputy Governor of Illinois, and Senator Chuck Schumer’s communications director.

Laura Gitman

Laura is a global expert on corporate sustainability, with two decades of experience in strategy consulting and has advised senior executives at global companies across a range of industry sectors and sustainability issues. Laura has also been a leader in BSR’s organizational growth and impact. She launched BSR’s financial services practice and New York office, and she is currently the Chief Operating Officer, leveraging her strengths in strategy, organizational change, and people management. Laura works with leading global companies to develop and enhance their sustainability strategies to maximize value for business and society. She is sought after to facilitate senior-level strategy workshops and multistakeholder collaborations. She has published reports on environmental, social, and governance trends among investors as well as sustainability integration and leadership. From 2006 to 2010, she facilitated the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, growing the initiative from 15 to more than 50 companies.

Gillian Tett

Gillian Tett is the US editor-at-large and chair of the editorial board, based in New York. In this new role, Tett works to shape FT’s global editorial strategy and opinions, organizes Editorial board briefings and writes two weekly columns covering a range of economic, financial, political and social issues throughout the globe. Tett plays a key role in developing FT’s US growth plan and initiatives.

From 2014-2019, Tett served as the US managing editor, leading the FT’s editorial operations in the region across all platforms. She previously served as assistant editor responsible for the FT’s markets coverage and US managing editor from 2010-2012.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Greta Thunberg: 00:06 How dare you? You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words.

António Guterres: 00:15 So more and more people are feeling that climate change is impacting on them today. And this is changing public opinions. Governments have less of less influence in countries as a whole.

Gillian Tett: 00:26 To the balance of risks in the eyes of many business executives have shifted from it’s riskier to stand on the sidelines and do nothing than do actually be involved in some of these social and climate change events.

Prof. Sterman: 00:38 So the conclusion here is it is technically still possible to limit expected warming to one and a half. It’s time to fight. This is not going to be easy, but it’s gotta be worth it.

Edie Lush: 01:06 Welcome to the global goals Cast, the podcast that explores how to change the world. Ah! What a week you could feel the tensions, protesters in the streets. Greta Thunberg lecturing the world from the general assembly podium and the secretary general rallying the people to pressure his own bosses, the governments of the world.

Claudia Edelman: 01:27 We are here to walk you through what just happened during climate week called UNGA or the global goals week. And to present to you part two of Edie’s effort to save the world from a catastrophic warming on the climate interactive computer model at MIT.

Edie Lush: 01:43 That’s right. It was incredible to watch the real world argue how to curb climate change and compare that to the lessons I learned from the climate simulation.

Claudia Edelman: 01:53 We will have all of that and a special guest from the Financial Times, but first, this.

Presenter: 02:03 This episode of global goals cast is brought to you by BSR, building a just sustainable world. Join BSR, November 12th through 14th in San Jose California to hear innovative companies are navigating a new climate for business and paving the way for people and planet to thrive in an era of unprecedented change. BSR Thanks to CBS news digital and to Harman, the official sound of the Global GoalsCast.

Claudia Edelman: 02:39 We’ll come back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush: 02:42 And I’m Edie Lush. To help us sum up climate week, we have brought in reinforcements.

Claudia Edelman: 02:48 We’re so glad to have our friend and colleague from the financial times, US editor at large and just launched Moral Money. Gillian Tett. Welcome to the program.

Gillian Tett: 02:58 Great to be here.

Claudia Edelman: 03:00 This is my 16th General Assembly Week and it is the first time that it felt mainstream that more people cared than the usual suspects.

Gillian Tett: 03:08 Well, I will get a medal for surviving 1615 general assembly weeks. But what was striking about this year was that in the past UN General Assembly Week has happened somewhat in a bubble of governments and nonprofits. And that was kind of really it. This year Business and finance and all of the associated groups around them, including the financial times were all over on Goal Week for the simple reason that the UN recognizes it needs to reach out to the business and financial community. And at the same time, executives right around the world are suddenly setting up and taking notice of what the UN is doing.

Edie Lush: 03:49 So Gillian, one of the articles you wrote last week was about how climate change could cause a new mortgage default crisis That’s clearly something pretty cataclysmic for the financial markets. Tell me about that.

Gillian Tett: 04:04 Well, the key thing to realize is that as the discussion about climate change gather steam, increasingly you’re seeing a lot of mainstream consultants and financial analysts and investors doing some pretty urgent modeling to work out how climate change could impact their portfolios going forward for both good and bad. And one of the areas where they’re increasingly doing modeling is looking at the impact of climate change on residential properties, which are vulnerable to say flooding on the East coast of America and asking questions like if there was a lot of flooding, what would that mean for the value of those properties? What would it mean for mortgages? What would it mean for the insurance companies and the banks associated with that? And you suddenly start to see a series of chain reactions that could be potentially quite serious.

Claudia Edelman: 04:56 And you mentioned about the computer modeling brings us exactly to the center of what this episode is going to be all about. By the way, Edie and you have done simulators, I have a FOMO of not having been in one. So I want to hear all about Edie. So Gillian, stay with us so that we can talk a little bit later about the rise and success of moral money,

Edie Lush: 05:17 But right now we’re going to give Claudia a little more FOMO as we pick up my conversation with John Sterman. You’ll recall he’s professor of management at MIT. Last episode I worked with him on his climate interactive model to see if I could design a set of actions that would prevent catastrophic warming. Let’s just say we left the world hanging at the end of the last episode.

Claudia Edelman: 05:41 Kind of like Climate Week.

Edie Lush: 05:42 Which of course is exactly the point. The model and the real world are scarily in sync. Professor Sterman told me how he’s broken down locks in the simulation that just maybe offer ways to break deadlocks in the real world. He told me about one session from a few years ago with a delegation from China.

Prof. Sterman: 06:03 Their view at that time officially in China is, listen, you developed countries, you created this problem. You have to cut your emissions. We, developing nations, you cannot tell us that we can’t do what you did. That’s amoral and we’re not going to have it. So we get to keep burning fossil fuel until we become as affluent as you are. So their proposals were large cuts from the United States, large cuts from Europe and all the other developed countries and very little from China, India, and the other developing countries. And I showed them that under that scenario Shanghai would be almost certainly inundated. Shenzhen would be inundated and they would lose their biggest and most important cities and centers of economic activity. And at that point I said, so what does this mean? And there was a long, long silence and I asked again, and another long silence. And then, somebody spoke and what I heard translated in my hear piece was: it means we have to leave the past in the past. And what he meant was: yes, it’s true, the Western developed nations have contributed the most to this problem. But if we want to save our country, we have to cut also. And what’s important about this is if I had stood up and said that and said, you must cut, because look, even if I cut emissions from the developed nations a lot, you still lose your big cities. They would have folded their arms and shaken their heads and because you can’t tell people these things. Instead what happened was they were completely free to choose any path of emissions they wanted to. So I was just showing them what happened with their own proposes. So they saw the consequences of their decisions. And I think that’s the only way these kinds of insights are going to arise and really have an impact.

Edie Lush: 08:27 All that happened just before China and the United States negotiated a bilateral agreement in 2014 to reduce carbon emissions. Ideal to set the stage for the Paris Climate Treaty. But now the biggest disagreements are between countries but inside one country. [Music] And have you had similar teaching moments on Capitol Hill in the US?

Prof. Sterman: 08:53 Yes. So I’m not gonna mention any names, but since the beginning of this year, I’ve presented this model myself and my team-mates to about 38 members of the Senate, to staff in the House and the Senate, from both parties, and senators from both parties as well. And I just got to tell you, nobody wants to hear yet another expert come and show them a thousand PowerPoint slides about what’s going to happen if they don’t take action. It’s just doesn’t work. But when you do this interactively, people get very excited and it’s… these are all very, very busy folks. But the meetings typically run lot because they are eager to see what happens if I do this, what happens if I do that? How can we get there? What does it mean in the real world?

Edie Lush: 09:49 So that’s why this simulation is so valuable. You can experience the real world impacts inside a computer and then return to reality with a much better grasp of what’s needed. When we took a break, we’d brought the temperature down from just above 4°C warming to 3°C warming. So we’re not doing too badly, but we’ve already lost New Orleans, lost Shanghai. So, that’s not looking so good. Does everyone who does this find it as difficult as I am?

Prof. Sterman: 10:26 In a word? Yeah. Most people are surprised that it’s as difficult as it is to get down towards 2, and people come at this with different positions on the political spectrum. Some people like pricing carbon, some people like a more regulatory approach, but it doesn’t matter. There’s no one lever that you can pull that gets you all the way there. We will see… if you can get us where we need to go Edie.

Edie Lush: 10:58 Oh my goodness. Okay.

Prof. Sterman: 11:00 But yeah, it’s hard.

Edie Lush: 11:03 14% of greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation. So let’s look at energy efficiency in transport. So this is cars, trucks, that kind of thing?

Prof. Sterman: 11:17 Well, it’s all modes. So it’s cars and trucks. It’s trains, it’s also shipping and aviation. And all of those have and can have more improvements in energy efficiency. So let’s pull that lever. I’m going to pull it just about as much as I pulled the lever for energy efficiency in buildings. So we were at 3. You pull it out here we’re at 2.9. So it helps, but there’s a couple of reasons it doesn’t help more. Unlike buildings, it’s generally not possible to retrofit cars and trucks, aircraft and so forth. So you know, you bought an SUV, you’ve been driving it around for a few years in the United States, that car is going to last for 16 to 20 years. You might not own it that long, but somebody is going to be driving it, and that old car continues to be driven around using the same inefficient engine as before. So that helped!

Edie Lush: 12:18 A 10th of a degree of Celsius. So what about the electrification lever? What happens if we..

Prof. Sterman: 12:25 Transport?

Edie Lush: 12:25 Transport? Yeah!

Prof. Sterman: 12:26 Great. So this would be a move towards electric vehicles. So let’s pull that lever and we can highly incentivize it. Not all the way. And that got us another 10th of a degree.

Edie Lush: 12:40 So we’re now at now plus 2.8°C increase. Goodness. I thought getting electric cars was going to do more than that. That is surprising to me.

Prof. Sterman: 12:52 So why do you think it doesn’t have more impact? I’ll give you a hint. Look back here on the mix of energy sources.

Edie Lush: 13:01 It looks like we’ve still got coal and oil still… at least a pretty big mix there.

Prof. Sterman: 13:07 Electrifying transport definitely reduces the amount of oil, especially in the second half of the century when all those existing cars and so forth are replaced and as electric cars have become cheaper and more capable and more widely available. So, it definitely reduces the size of the wedge of the oil. What about the coal? By the end of the century, we’ve got a lot of clean green, renewable energy, but between now and 2050, there’s still a lot of coal still being used. One of the challenges here is can you green up the electric grid faster? So how could you do that?

Edie Lush: 13:51 Can we tax coal? Can we move to nuclear?

Prof. Sterman: 13:55 Sure.

Edie Lush: 13:55 I feel like I’m getting slightly desperate here! I feel like we have to save the world in 20 minutes! I’m not sure if we’re going to get there!

Prof. Sterman: 14:02 No need for desperation! Let’s tax call. You tried that before. One thing you can do is simply stop building any new coal infrastructure, no new mines, no new electric plants powered by coal, etc. In what year do you think we could implement a policy that would essentially stop the construction of any new coal powerplants?

Edie Lush: 14:27 Around the world? Goodness. 2025, 2030.

Prof. Sterman: 14:33 Well, let’s try 2025. You can change it at anytime you want, and let’s see what that does. You can see the coal is going down much faster now.

Edie Lush: 14:42 The coal wedge definitely goes down. We’re still holding it 2.7 plus, + 2.7.

Prof. Sterman: 14:50 2.7 now. So everything helps.

Edie Lush: 14:51 Ok!

Edie Lush: 14:51 You could also accelerate the retirement of existing coal plants. That helps a little bit. But the economics of new coal plants and existing ones are unfavorable generally speaking. But I think this makes a very important point. Even if coal production were to peak next year, 2020, which is what’s happening now, it takes a while before all that coal disappears and is driven out of the energy system by renewables and energy efficiency. And in the meantime, all that CO2 is still accumulating in the atmosphere. Now you mentioned nuclear. So just as we’ve subsidized renewables, we can also subsidize nuclear, and well, let’s just do it and see what happens. So first of all, we’re at 2.7. So now subsidize nuclear about the same as the renewables. So what happened?

Edie Lush: 15:50 Nothing happened.

Prof. Sterman: 15:51 Almost nothing. Right? Temperature didn’t go down.

Edie Lush: 15:54 Nope, we’re still at +2.7.

Prof. Sterman: 15:56 Let’s figure out why. So let me subsidize nuclear a whole heck of a lot more. So now we’re getting a lot of nuclear.

Edie Lush: 16:04 Right.

Prof. Sterman: 16:05 But it only notched us down less than a 10th of a degree. So we’re at 2.6 something. But why? You know. So take a look at this graph of primary energy production and let me back up all the way to where there’s no nuclear and there’s a huge wedge of green energy now. Right? So now let’s heavily subsidize the nuclear.

Edie Lush: 16:32 I see. So by subsidizing nuclear, you’re actually cutting into the renewables, but not doing very much to impact oil and gas.

Prof. Sterman: 16:43 You’ve made a great observation here. A lot of people think, well before I pulled the nuclear lever, I’ve got this giant wedge of green energy, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal. With the storage you need to make it useful. Even when the sun’s down and the wind is not blowing and now we’ll add nuclear and if we can get a certain amount of nuclear, it’ll add to the green and we’ll be better off. But in fact what happens is you do get more nuclear, you have to subsidize it very heavily, but it squeezes out the green and you’re not really getting any significant net increase in carbon free energy.

Edie Lush: 17:24 Ok!

Prof. Sterman: 17:24 And it’s very clear that this, this would happen, right? If nuclear energy becomes cheap enough that the market wants it, then it’s going to be cheaper for a utility to do that than to invest in wind farms and utility scale solar so they won’t.

Edie Lush: 17:47 Okay, so let’s look at protecting the lungs of the earth. As Macron said the other day. So we want to reduce deforestation and let’s also plant some trees. Let’s increase the number of trees in the forests. What happens there? We’re at 2.7°C increase now.

Prof. Sterman: 18:11 So I’m going to put in a moderate reduction in deforestation and that was worth a 10th of a degree C and if we go a little farther, you can see emissions come down a little more and a very large reduction. Yeah, it helped a bit.

Edie Lush: 18:28 Okay. So we’re at plus 2.6. Yup.

Prof. Sterman: 18:31 So that helped. Now let’s plant some new trees on previously deforested land. And so that’s afforestation and that’s… I’ve got medium growth here. That’s we’re down down to 2.5 and we could do more. So that helps. Absolutely helps. So this graph on the bottom shows how much carbon dioxide is being removed every year by those trees, the new trees, as they grow. And well what do you notice about that?

Edie Lush: 19:05 So it takes a while for the CO2 to be taken out of the air. So really till you’re planting them now, it’s just before 2040 that you start to see any increase in removal of carbon dioxide from the air.

Prof. Sterman: 19:19 Right.

Edie Lush: 19:20 So I guess it takes a while for trees to grow.

Prof. Sterman: 19:23 Absolutely right. So you know, when you start a massive afforestation program, then you plant a million seedlings in a day, which I believe Tanzania just did. That’s fantastic. But those seedlings have almost no carbon in them next year. Maybe they’ve doubled in size, they still have almost no carbon in them. They don’t really start to remove carbon until they become rather large. And it takes, depending on the species and the climate, a hundred years before they’re really starting to store a lot of carbon. Afforestation is a great thing to do, but it doesn’t help in the near term.

Edie Lush: 20:09 Okay. Here’s another great thing to do. Let’s take a brief break to hear from someone. We’re very positive about. Laura Gitman, the chief operating officer of BSR, a global nonprofit that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world. I asked Laura if purpose alongside profit was an idea that is going mainstream.

Laura Gitman: 20:36 I think it’s a redefinition of profit and a redefinition of purpose. I think it is redefining what it means to have a profit. Where, how are those profits distributed? You paying taxes? Or is the community that is contributing to your profit? Are they benefiting from those profits? And so I think it’s, it’s a more fundamental restructuring of the role of business itself, as well as a fundamental recognition that business is a critical player in helping society achieve its overall purpose. So a perfect example of this is the climate strike, which started more as a school strike with Greta Thunberg. But now we’re seeing employees from Amazon, and Microsoft, and Google walking out in support. So it really is employees standing up for what they believe in and what they expect their companies to be able to support and to demonstrate to the world their commitment.

Edie Lush: 21:34 And Laura, you’ve got an event coming up in my home state of California. Tell me about it.

Laura Gitman: 21:39 We do. So BSR has our annual conference. This year it will be hosted in San Jose on November 12th through 14th.

Edie Lush: 21:48 To learn more about BSR and to attend their conference, go to

Claudia Edelman: 21:59 Welcome back. When we left Edie, She limited temperature increase to 2.5°C above the pre-industrial level.

Edie Lush: 22:09 So the clock is ticking. We’re at 2.5 degrees increase now. What about agriculture? Because I know that we get a lot of methane emissions from cows from the front end. I know that there’s a big push to reduce meat consumption. What does that do when we pull that lever?

Prof. Sterman: 22:31 You’re absolutely right. A lot of the methane is coming from the technical term being enteric methanogenesis, but more popularly known as cow burps. Also, the nitrous oxide is coming from agriculture much of it. So let’s pull that lever and let’s have a moderate reduction in the methane.

Edie Lush: 22:51 Wow. That made a big change. So we’re now at +2.1°C or +3.8°F. That was a big one. Why is that?

Prof. Sterman: 23:02 So first of all, cutting the emissions from agriculture is feasible with technology we have today. You mentioned several things that would need to be done, reducing food waste. The IPCC in the UN and others, FAO estimate about 30% of all the food produced in the world is wasted. Even small reductions in that reduce the need for land, for agriculture, for uh, fertilizer, for all the fossil fuel that goes into cultivation and harvesting and processing. So that makes a big difference. Secondly, shifting to a less meat intensive diet for those who find that to be attractive, that can help a lot. You don’t have to become a vegan, but even cutting back your beef and meat consumption a little bit, not only make you healthier and ease your food budget, but it reduces methane and nitrous oxide emissions that come from livestock. So this is something that can be done and it makes a big difference. You’re almost there!

Edie Lush: 24:04 We’re almost there! We’re at 2.1. We haven’t pulled the lever yet on electrifying buildings in industry. What does that do when you pull that lever and what is that all about?

Prof. Sterman: 24:16 So it’s analogous to electrifying transport. It’s what I did in my own house here where we completely ripped out the fossil heating system, put in those air source heat pumps that are powered by electricity, which in my case is coming from our solar. But in general, that means you’d be running your heating and cooling your buildings, entirely with electricity. So as we’ve green the grid here, we get climate benefits. So lets do that and I’ve got about the same degree of electrification for buildings as we have chosen for transportation. And where are we now?

Edie Lush: 24:55 So we’re now at 2° increase Celsius, which is what the Paris Accords have put as the upper limit, which is good. I have to say though, we’re still not at 1.5 to stay alive. So I still feel like there’s something else we got to do.

Prof. Sterman: 25:11 Right. There’s a couple of options. We could try a higher carbon price. So let’s just do that.

Edie Lush: 25:16 It was at $50. We’re now putting it at $100 a ton.

Prof. Sterman: 25:20 So that’s about 90 cents a gallon, in the United States, which would leave the price of gasoline still well below European levels today. And it’s phased in gradually over a period of a decade. So people would have time to plan and adjust. And that got us to 1.9. There’s other ways to do it. So one of the things we haven’t tried is what if there’s a radical new technological breakthrough?

Edie Lush: 25:48 Like, what?

Prof. Sterman: 25:48 We have this lever here we call new tech, new technology. So what would it be in the real world? Well, it might be fusion, it could be an advanced next generation nuclear fussion technology. And maybe it’s something we haven’t thought of yet. Artificial leaf for, I don’t know, iron man’s arch reactor. So, because so many people believe that if we just had more R&D, we could come up with a breakthrough like this and make fusion feasible or make one of these other technologies feasible and then that would solve the problem. So what we’ve assumed here is when I pull this new tech slider, we’re getting a 100% carbon free energy source that’s going to be cheaper than coal. So let’s try it. So I’ve got a pretty big breakthrough here right now.

Edie Lush: 26:43 Huge breakthrough.

Prof. Sterman: 26:43 It’s this orange band.

Edie Lush: 26:43 A new tech band has appeared on your global sources of primary energy and absolutely nothing has had happened to the temperature of the earth. It’s still at 2°C!

Prof. Sterman: 26:57 So why is that?

Edie Lush: 26:59 Because it’s taken away from bio energy and renewables it looks like, or bio energy and nuclear. Yeah.

Prof. Sterman: 27:08 So this is quite interesting what you’ve just discovered. So I could make it an even bigger breakthrough. And now there’s a gigantic amount of this new tech, but it only is worth a 10th of a degree because you’ve squeezed out even more. So here’s the dilemma. New tech will grow sooner and faster if it’s really, really cheap. But the cheaper it is, the less nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, and the less efficiency people are going to invest in. New tech is so cheap. Why would anybody want to spend the money to insulate their home or put good windows into their home? Because their electric bill is going to be way, way lower. So you’re getting a… compensating effect, or a rebound effect.

Edie Lush: 27:59 Okay. And what about changing the assumptions about consumption? We know from our final episode of season 2 that we have this unsustainable ratio of 32 to one so Americans are consuming 32 times what an average Kenyan does. Can we fool around with that?

Prof. Sterman: 28:17 We can! So I’m showing you a graph of GDP per capita in each of the big regions and countries of the world, the U S European union, China, India, other developed and other developing economies. And if we reduce the focus on consumption, we do in fact slowed down the rate at which affluence continues to grow. Nobody’s getting poorer here, they’re just getting more affluent at a somewhat slower rate.

Edie Lush: 28:50 All right, so I’ve got us below 1.9°C, but it’s not enough for the, the low lying island nations.

Prof. Sterman: 29:00 So your carbon price is still pretty low at $50. Pretty low relative to what might be needed to get big changes in energy use and more renewables out there. So let’s increase it and we’re at 1.9, 1.8, I’ll make round this off here. I’ll make it $170 a ton. A lot of economists believe that’s in the ballpark of what might be needed. And we phase it in gradually, and you can give the money back to the people. And then, you know, one of the unfortunate realities of the fact that we’ve waited so long to do all this is that it’s very, very hard to get much below 2 unless you have what’s called negative emissions. And so we do have over here the different negative emissions technologies, like bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, like bio char, direct air capture and agricultural soil sequestrations, etc.

Edie Lush: 30:07 So this is under the broader, broader theme of technological carbon removal. What happens when we pull that lever?

Prof. Sterman: 30:15 It actually does quite a lot. And if I, if I pull it most of the way towards what various experts believe is the maximum that could be done.

Edie Lush: 30:29 We’ve now hit 1.5 degrees! Gosh, that was a close.

Prof. Sterman: 30:32 Yeah! congratulations.

Claudia Edelman: 30:37 Wow! Edie, you made it. But technically possible is only part of the challenge, right? It is politically possible to keep warming to 1.5°C.

Edie Lush: 30:47 Step one is to show it’s possible, giving hope and encouragement to those willing to roll up their sleeves and try. I talked about that with professor Sterman. Jonathan Franzen and just the other day said, we should just give up. It’s over. We’ve lost the fight to contain global warming. So seen from our work today, he’s wrong! And we shouldn’t give up and there is a reason still for optimism despite the current political climate.

Prof. Sterman: 31:18 So I think he is wrong. I think it is still possible technically to limit the expected warming and even if this turns out to be somewhat over optimistic, whatever we do makes for a safer world for ourselves and our kids and for all the kids then giving up. So I just utterly reject his approach. I mean one way to think about it is if you believe as he does that it’s too late, that people are never going to learn to cooperate. They’re never going to take the actions that can make such powerful differences as we’ve seen here, they’re never going to overcome the political interference of the fossil fuel industry. If you believe that you are going to get to be right because you’re not going to do a darn thing about it. And so do you want to be right or do you want to make a difference? I think we can make a difference, but we’re only gonna make a difference if we stand up and take action. And that action has to be personal. Insulate your home. Put solar on your roof. It has to be professional work to have your company become more efficient and get off of fossil fuels. And it has to be as a citizen, we aren’t going to succeed without collective action. It just makes no sense to give up. It’s time to fight. This is not going to be easy, but it’s gonna be worth it!

Edie Lush: 32:50 Another way to put it is this. Not the time to roll up our trousers and get ready for the floods, but it’s time to roll up our sleeves. No, not a great joke? Okay. Max Boykoff, at the university of Colorado, has a new book on how humor can move people to action while bad news just depresses them. Here’s an example from Jimmy Kimmel.

Special Clip: 33:11 “Attention galaxy! Planet Earth is going out of business! We’ve lost our minds and everything must go! Insane deals on everything on Earth. Panda bears! Giant sequoias! Large inflatable ducks! Portugal! Porcupine! Oceans! 50% off nocturnal animals: insects, reptiles and amphibians! Unused home gym! Artificial pine tree! St Patrick’s Cathedral! Bats! Other bats! Salmon! Tide pods! But you must act fast because Planet Earth is over soon and when it’s gone, is gone!”

Claudia Edelman: 33:42 Wow. all right. So both of you, Edie and Gillian, first of all, it’s so great to be able to have our conversation after the craziness of the UNGA & that we’re like able to reflect and, and talk to the audience that is not able to be here in New York and give them a sense about like how big this is. But both of you have done computer modeling, so how did that change your mindset?

Gillian Tett: 34:05 Well, people are forever modeling the outlook for the economy, and demographics, and the recently things, the energy standard demand, and all kinds of macroeconomic variables in businesses already. It’s really been just recently though they began to do it in relation to climate change. They should probably should have done it many years ago. And that’s really having impact not just inside the C-suite, but also amongst investor committees, and also amongst regulators. I can’t stress this strongly how significant, what the actions of central banks are right now, in terms of trying to concentrate minds inside the financial sector, because when you look at these models and think about the potential for defaults or asset price impairment, they are very significant.

Edie Lush: 34:48 So what I learned from this simulator was first of all, how every action that you can take, so whether it’s taxing coal, planting trees, whether it’s protecting trees, whether it’s worrying about population, they all start to impact each other. So you think you’re doing something great and actually it’s not great at all, or it doesn’t have as much of an impact as you thought it would on bringing the increase in the temperature down. It was really hard to keep that temperature from increasing, mostly because of the collective effort that it’s going to take to do just that. And I actually wanted to ask you guys, what was your impression from UNGA from the whole week about the promises from governments?

Gillian Tett: 35:32 Well in some respects what happened is that it quite disappointing because we didn’t see a lot more announcements. The Chinese who many people have been looking to for action essentially are so concerned about their domestic economy slowing down right now that they deliberately did not put themselves at the stage of this debate and of course the U.S. Administration is currently denying that climate change is really an issue at all. However, if you look around the edges, there were some encouraging developments, whether it’s a fat that the British government is increasingly trying to redefine the concept of aid and channel people’s pensions in the UK towards more socially positive in types of investments. If you look at the fact that the regulators and central bank governors are moving ahead with efforts to force the financial system to really get involved in trucking climate change, there are all kinds of measure that are happening one level beneath the very top presidential suite, which are very important, but anyone looking for the big bang, unfortunately we’re going to be disappointed.

Claudia Edelman: 36:33 And nevertheless, I do feel that these UNGA managed to get a zietgiest. There’s something that changed in the way that we see these things as relevant.

Gillian Tett: 36:43 The fear in many C-suites, many corporate boards, many investment committees is if they don’t get engaged in these issues, they’re going to suffer reputational damage. Their employees will be unhappy, they might lose money on their portfolios, their businesses could suffer. And so the balance of risks in the eyes of many businesses executives have shifted from it’s riskier to stand on the sidelines and do nothing than to actually be involved in some of these social and climate change movements.

Claudia Edelman: 37:10 And that is how you launched Moral Money.

Gillian Tett: 37:13 Well, absolutely. I mean, we first started looking at the idea of doing a special website, a newsletter around green issues, socially responsible business issues quite long time ago. And we’ve thought a couple of years ago was quite a minority, interest topic in the sense that it was really only mattered to people who were actively investing in a way that wanted to deliver social change. And then early this year, we realized that actually the rise of what people called environmental social and governance issues, ESG issues, was actually convulsing almost every corporate board and investment committee and bank across the Western World, because it’s now become part of risk management in the sense that businesses and financers know that if they ignore ESG issues completely, they actually run big risks now. We did a survey recently of our readers to see why they were signing up to it and reading it. So, voraciously, and what this shows is that the vast majority of people think that these issues, ESG, environmental, social governance issues, are really important to their jobs. But also the vast majority of people who responded, and they were mostly mid level employees, most of them don’t actually know how to make sense of it. So all we’re trying to do is find a way to cut through all these acronyms and get a sense of companies and individuals and employees can do to, at best, promote these new ideas and build a better world, but at least at worst, avoid the risks of ignoring them.

Edie Lush: 38:49 The other conversations that I’ve had last week but also actually in Davos, Gillian, were about how it’s still tough for the C-suite to figure out how to support the Sustainable Development Goals because there’s still so much work to be done around setting standards. So I wonder if you saw some movement last week around that.

Gillian Tett: 39:09 That’s certainly a lot of concern inside the C-suite and investment committees about just how difficult it is to actually take this sustainable development goals and turn it into an action plan. I’m in the argument right now isn’t about why, it’s really about how. Now the good news is that actually efforts to look at the accounting issues and the management issues and rating issues are really accelerating right now. There’s an explosion of innovation and competition amongst private sector companies to provide solutions. And the even better news is that a lot of big companies are now stepping up to try and provide this demonstration effect. There was a group of 17 companies which call themselves the Business Avengers after the Hollywood characters who are promising to take a lead in this respect, but still a long way to go.

Claudia Edelman: 39:57 Business Avengers. I love that. As long as they look as hot as the real Avengers. So thank you so much Gillian Tett for being here.

Edie Lush: 40:09 Thank you Gillian! Now facts and actions, usually we take a global view, but this episode has led us to something a little different. As John Sterman said, it is technically possible to contain global warming, but is it politically possible, especially when the government of the largest economy in the world is in gridlock for facts and actions on the deadlock over climate in the United States, we decided to turn to a multi talented guy. He’s a political strategist of venture capitalist and the host of the podcast firewall here is Bradley Tusk.

Bradley Tusk: 40:48 Hi, this is Bradley Tusk and I am giving you 3 facts and 3 actions from my perspective on climate change. The first one is the most obvious thing you’ve heard all day, which is Congress is wildly dysfunctional. There is no ability to pass or move or change anything and it really comes down to two reasons. One is because of gerrymandering, the vast, vast majority of elections are decided in primaries, not in the general election and the primary because turnout is really low is usually a contest to see who is either the most left wing or right wing depending on the district. The problem is, as a result, when you have 15% turnout in primaries, you’re mainly sending far left wing and far right wing members to Congress, for whom compromise or getting things done. It’s a lot less important than ideological purity. The second is the status quo that you can’t solve climate. To do anything meaningful climate, you’re gonna need legislation, which means compromise on a carbon tax or a much higher gas tax or a carbon sequestration funding. All of that means moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats working together. And third, if you’re on the left or the right, it’s not in your interest to change this. If ideological purity is what you care about, that’s kind of what gets you up in the morning and gets you out of bed, get you reelected, helps you raise money. So those are the facts. So what can you do about it? Three actions. The first is we need support moderates from both parties. I’m an independent. I think both parties are wildly corrupt. Most of my giving and voting tends to be for Democrats. But I do look to find moderate Republicans to support as well. Because if we don’t have moderate Republicans, then we’re never going to have the ability to get anything done and climate or any other issue. The second is we fundamentally have to reform the way that we vote in the first place. So the reason why things are the way they are, it’s why every policy out produced the result of a political input. I want to turn out, it’s 15% most primaries in most districts are gerrymandered. Politicians know that they have to keep that 15% happy at the exclusion of everyone else. But imagine turnout were 60 or 70% in the primary, then you’re trying to keep the mainstream happy and I was trying to keep a small vocal minority happy. How does that happen? If people can vote on their phones? How does that happen safely through the blockchain? So there have been now experiments run in West Virginia, Denver and Utah where deployed service men and women have been able to vote on their phone over the blockchain in elections. They have all got extremely wealth, the national cybersecurity center has ordered each of them and found that the elections were secure. As that trend continues, that becomes your opportunity to radically increase turnout in primary elections, which ultimately leads to more moderate candidates, more consensus, and then getting actually things done. And the third is more of a personal thing, but just don’t worry about passing anyone else’s litmus test but your own. Don’t worry about being considered woke. Everyone loves to have standards and that you have to meet in their purity tests, but their purity test is totally glued to their own self interest. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about what’s good for them politically. It’s about what’s good for them economically and the only thing that matters is what you believe.

Edie Lush: 43:42 Before we go, thanks to our guests Gillian Tett and John Sterman. To find out more about John’s En-ROADS Climate Solutions Simulator, go to that’s

Claudia Edelman: 43:57 And thanks for listening. Please like and subscribe, wherever you get your podcast and follow us on social media at Global GoalsCast. See you next time. Bye Bye! Adios!

Edie Lush: 44:06 Adios!

Presenter: 44:13 Global GoalsCast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes. Editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and welcome to our new intern Tina Pastore. Music in this episode was by Neil Hail, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Krohn, Ashish Paliwal and Andrew Phillips, who just won an Emmy for his music on “Stolen Daughters”, the HBO documentary on the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Congratulations, Andrew. This episode was made possible with the support of BSR also CBS News Digital and Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Can Global GoalsCast Save the Planet?


The Climate challenge is sprawling and extraordinarily complex. It is too much for any individual to hold all of it in their head. That knowledge void has become a major political obstacle to effective climate action (SDG 13) as we fill it in paralyzing ways, from denial to apocalyptic fear.  The best way to learn that we can curb climate change is to do it. So Global GoalsCast co-host Edie Lush sat down with John Sterman, professor of Management at MIT, to solve the climate crisis on his ClimateInteractive model of the world’s climate and economy. Edie tried everything from energy efficient homes to a steep tax on carbon in a search for solutions that would hold global temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). How did she do? 

To find out, listen to this special two-part episode of Global GoalsCast, timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit and the global journalism effort to increase awareness of the climate challenge, #CoveringClimateNow.

Facts and Actions are presented by Elizabeth Sawin, Co Director of ClimateInteractive.Org, the not-for-profit which makes the climate simulation available worldwide. Dr. Sawin is an expert in what she calls “multisolving,” helping people find solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while producing multiple benefits in health, justice, equity, resilience and well-being. 

Featured guests

John Sterman

John Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems and Society, and director of the MIT System Dynamics Group and MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. Prof. Sterman has published approximately 200 works spanning corporate strategy and operations, energy policy, public health, and climate change. Author of award-winning books and papers, he pioneered the development of interactive “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems, which are now used by governments, corporations, and universities around the world. These include the En-ROADS and CROADS energy and climate policy simulations, developed in partnership with the non-profit, Climate Interactive, which have been used by policymakers, negotiators, business and civil society leaders, educators and the public around the world. 

Elizabeth Sawin

Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Director of Climate Interactive, a think tank that applies systems analysis to climate change and related issues. A biologist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years. Beth’s work focuses on helping people find solutions that prevent future climate change, build resilience to unavoidable climate impacts, and provide opportunities to people who need them most. She writes and speaks on this topic to local, national, and international audiences. She is a member of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future, a continuing dialogue on issues of climate change and sustainability among a select group of humanities scholars, writers, artists and climate scientists. Beth’s work also focuses on capacity building – helping leaders achieve bigger impact. She has trained and mentored global sustainability leaders in the Donella Meadows Fellows Program, and provided systems thinking training to both Ashoka and Dalai Lama Fellows in recent years.

Laura Gitman

Laura is a global expert on corporate sustainability, with two decades of experience in strategy consulting and has advised senior executives at global companies across a range of industry sectors and sustainability issues. Laura has also been a leader in BSR’s organizational growth and impact. She launched BSR’s financial services practice and New York office, and she is currently the Chief Operating Officer, leveraging her strengths in strategy, organizational change, and people management. Laura works with leading global companies to develop and enhance their sustainability strategies to maximize value for business and society. She is sought after to facilitate senior-level strategy workshops and multistakeholder collaborations. She has published reports on environmental, social, and governance trends among investors as well as sustainability integration and leadership. From 2006 to 2010, she facilitated the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, growing the initiative from 15 to more than 50 companies.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


John Sterman: 00:02 Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work. You can tell people the science, you can show them the science, you can give them the presentations and it just doesn’t change people’s behavior, their thinking, their attitudes. The way learning happens for most people almost all the time, is people learn from experience and experiment. But in the climate situation, as more people find out that, holy cow, this climate change is really a serious threat to our lives, our prosperity, our security. It’s just going to be too late. We can’t afford to wait, and there’s no way to run experiments. We only have our one planet. So that is why you need simulators.

John Sterman: 00:49 So your job, Edie,

Edie Lush: 00:51 if I choose to accept it…

John Sterman: 00:52 well, you don’t have a choice right now because the world is, the world is counting on you.

Claudia Edelman: 01:05 Welcome to the Global GoalsCast!

Edie Lush: 01:06 The podcast that explores how to change the world. Claudia, welcome to season three!

Claudia Edelman: 01:13 We’re back! We’re back! We’re amazing! Award winning, 125,000 downloads – featured by apple, inspiring , real action! The Global GoalsCast is back!

Edie Lush: 01:25 Yes. And do you know what? I missed you this summer when we were not recording.

Claudia Edelman: 01:30 I know I lost actually, like, practice. Let’s see how today goes. But today, Edie, today and in this episode we’re going to tackle the biggest challenge of all: climate change. Edie, this really is the biggest challenge that human beings have ever faced. It involves everyone on earth. It affects everything – from how we work, how we eat, and even how we play. It affects fairness, poverty, well, the entire human society is affected by climate change.

Edie Lush: 02:01 And Claudia, the problem is so big and so complex that many people either just deny the problem… or they throw up their hands and say: ah, we’re toast anyway… we can’t solve it, so let’s just get ready to live with it.

Claudia Edelman: 02:14 Yes, yes. And I read Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker saying that, exactly that… how depressing!

Edie Lush: 02:20 Climate apocalypse, which is what he was talking about, I don’t think is helpful. And at the Global GoalsCast, we prefer to talk about the champions who are doing something. Optimists! The glass half full types… the never say never people… and we find them! And when we come back, we’re going to introduce you to one of them. You can join me in saving the planet, but first this…

Presenter: 02:49 This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by BSR – Building a just and sustainable world. Join BSR November 12th to 14th in San Jose, California, to hear how innovative companies are navigating a new climate for business and paving the way for people and planet to thrive in an era of unprecedented change: Thanks to CBS News Digital and to Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Claudia Edelman: 03:28 Welcome back! Edie, seriously? You saved the planet in your demo?

Edie Lush: 03:33 Actually, Claudia, you’re going to have to wait for part two to find out. No spoilers. What I can tell you is that I spoke to an MIT professor who’s built a computer model of the global climate and the global economy. 60,000 people have played his simulations. Everyone from Chinese technocrats to members of the US Congress. Our editorial maestro, Mike Oreskes, calls it a flight simulator for piloting the planet to a safe future.

Claudia Edelman: 04:03 Hmm, a flight simulator is a teaching tool according to the maestro, isn’t it?

Edie Lush: 04:07 That’s right! Professor John Sterman of MIT explained why that’s such a good analogy and then he put me in the pilot’s seat.

Claudia Edelman: 04:14 Oh my God.

Edie Lush: 04:18 Hello. Can you hear me?

John Sterman: 04:20 Yes.

Edie Lush: 04:21 Great.

John Sterman: 04:22 Good morning.

Edie Lush: 04:23 Good morning or good afternoon. Almost good evening here. So thanks so much for being with me. I am delighted to be speaking to you and tell me about what I am looking at right on my screen. What is this?

John Sterman: 04:38 Well, you’re seeing an interactive energy and climate policy simulator.

Edie Lush: 04:43 And why did you create this?

John Sterman: 04:47 The way that basic research in climate science proceeds is using some of the most complex largest simulation models ever developed. These models are essential for understanding how the climate works and moving the frontier of climate knowledge forward. Uh, but they take weeks or in some cases, months to run on some of the largest supercomputer clusters in the world because they have an enormous amount of detail. And this is essential for basic progress in climate science, but because of that and because they run so slowly, they are not helpful for education and for policy makers and negotiators who meet, for example, through the UN every year. So what we did is we developed a set of models that behave the same way as the large models do at the global level or at the level of a few countries. Can’t give you all the detail that the big models do. But in return, they run essentially instantly on an ordinary laptop. And that makes them useful for policy makers, negotiators, business leaders, leaders and civic society, the media and others. Why don’t the policy makers, negotiators and other leaders simply use the results of the big models? The reason is simple research shows that showing people research doesn’t work. And this isn’t just about climate, uh, whether it’s you should wear your bike helmet and your motorcycle helmet, you should buckle up your seatbelt. When you drive, uh, you should quit smoking. Vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and save lives. You can tell people the science, you can show them the science, you can give them the presentations and it just doesn’t change people’s behavior, their thinking, their attitudes.

Edie Lush: 06:52 Hmm.

John Sterman: 06:53 So the way learning happens for most people almost all the time, is people learn from experience and experiment.

Edie Lush: 07:02 Hmm.

John Sterman: 07:04 But in the climate situation, experience is going to come just too late. We can’t afford to wait and there’s no way to run experiments. We only have our one planet and we can’t…

Edie Lush: 07:16 But it does feel like we’re, we’re actually in an experiment right now. I mean even just this morning, the news on the radio was that yet again, we’ve had another summer of insanely hot temperatures in Europe. In France. They were over 40 degrees.

John Sterman: 07:32 Right.

Edie Lush: 07:33 We’ve seen one time in a lifetime, storms happening twice within two years. So it feels like we are an experiment yet we still need a tool like this because governments, companies, people aren’t making the changes necessary.

John Sterman: 07:50 So that’s absolutely right. We’re running a giant uncontrolled experiment. And when we find out, as I think we already have, but as more people find out that holy cow, this climate change is really a serious threat to our lives, our prosperity, our security, it’s just going to be too late. There won’t be any option to go back. So that is why you need simulators and you’re exactly right. We call these tools management, flight simulators, and we’ve been developing them in my group for decades. So that’s what we’re up to here.

Edie Lush: 08:24 Okay, so let’s fly the plane if that’s the right analogy. Let’s fly the simulator.

John Sterman: 08:31 Great! So think of this as the cockpit of the simulator and you’ve got these graphs.

Edie Lush: 08:36 Ok!

John Sterman: 08:36 You just asked me what you’d like to see. If we’ve got it, we can bring it up on the screen.

John Sterman: 08:44 So as you can see, and as we just mentioned, uh, under this business-as-usual scenario in which population of the world keeps growing according to the UN’s projection, uh, the economies of the countries around the world keep growing. So people are becoming more affluent and the last developed countries are rising out of poverty. Uh, that is accomplished right now with no climate action, with an awful lot of fossil fuel, a lot of coal, oil and gas. And that drives emissions up and that leads to warming of over 4°C by the year 2100 – 7.4° Fahrenheit. And the consequences of that are, are likely to be nothing short of catastrophe.

John Sterman: 09:31 So your job, Edie?

Edie Lush: 09:33 Yeah, if I choose to accept it!

John Sterman: 09:35 Well you don’t have a choice right now because the world, the world is counting on you.

John Sterman: 09:41 So down at the bottom of the cockpit.

Edie Lush: 09:43 Yeah!

John Sterman: 09:43 You’ve got a whole lot of different policy levers that you can implement.

Edie Lush: 09:48 So let’s start off with looking at burning fossil fuels. I think we know that…

John Sterman: 09:56 Great.

Edie Lush: 09:56 … globally, 25% of greenhouse gas emissions today comes from burning fossil fuels to create heat and electricity, mostly for residential and commercial buildings. So what slider do we need to push to try to look at that issue?

John Sterman: 10:12 Well, you could try to change the energy mix.

Edie Lush: 10:15 Mmhm.

John Sterman: 10:15 You can tax or regulate coal.

Edie Lush: 10:18 Let’s do that. Let’s tax coal.

John Sterman: 10:20 Great. So let’s tax coal. Now as I do this, as I move the slider, you’ll see that the graphs are changing instantly. And as I move the slider to, to the left, what do you notice?

Edie Lush: 10:30 It says highly taxed and the temperatures come down. Hmm. Not so much, so above, from above 4°C to now 3.9°C or plus 7.1°F.

John Sterman: 10:41 Right? So you took 2/10 of a degree, C uh, off of the expected warming. So that’s good.

Edie Lush: 10:48 Okay. That’s a good start.

John Sterman: 10:50 Uh, it doesn’t solve the problem all by itself.

Edie Lush: 10:53 Okay.

John Sterman: 10:53 And by the way, take a look at the graph of the energy sources. So I’ll move the slider back…

Edie Lush: 10:59 Mmhm.

John Sterman: 10:59 And watch, watch the coal wedge.

Edie Lush: 11:01 Okay.

John Sterman: 11:01 So the coal wedge should go down.

Edie Lush: 11:04 Coal wedge goes down.

John Sterman: 11:05 Yeah.

Edie Lush: 11:06 Gas went up and oil went up too.

John Sterman: 11:09 Yeah, it is right.

Edie Lush: 11:10 Oh, crumbs!

John Sterman: 11:11 That is right. Also, the renewables went up.

Edie Lush: 11:14 Yup. Okay, let’s celebrate that. But we also had issues.

John Sterman: 11:17 Right. So what do you think it’s going on there? Why did gas and oil get, uh, have their demand increase?

Edie Lush: 11:25 Well, because they become more economically attracted.

John Sterman: 11:29 Right. Right. You’ve made coal more expensive through this taxation and that causes people to substitute more gas, for example, in the generation of electricity.

Edie Lush: 11:41 Alright, so let’s do something about that. Let’s let’s, what do we do tax, oil and gas as well?

John Sterman: 11:47 Great. You could do that. So let’s tax oil. So I’ve pulled that to a, a high tax. And as I did that, let me go back. You’ll see it real quickly. What happens to the oil wedge?

Edie Lush: 11:58 It definitely came down, but that didn’t do anything to the temperature…

John Sterman: 12:02 Right. Well, so watch the natural gas switch…

Edie Lush: 12:07 Oh!

John Sterman: 12:07 So that’s without…

Edie Lush: 12:09 This is so complicated [laughter].

John Sterman: 12:12 Right! So you’ve got a very complex economic system here with multiple markets, and by taxing coal and oil, you’ve definitely reduced their use. But you’ve done nothing to reduce the overall demand for energy. And so you’ve increased the incentive for electric power to be generated by natural gas. You are getting more renewables too, the green wedge of renewables has increased, but not enough to make much difference on the temperature.

Edie Lush: 12:41 Can we give renewables some incentives?

John Sterman: 12:45 So over here on the, the renewable slider, I’ll slide it over to the right and that implements a moderate subsidy to promote renewables. So in the real world, what that looks like is, uh, put into place or expand tax credits for individuals who go solar, for companies that go solar, put wind turbines in, for electric utilities who want to go with utility scale solar and wind, including the storage investments that they need or the changes in the way the grid works. And what did that do for us?

Edie Lush: 13:20 Well, where we get, we’re now down to an increase of 3.5°C, which is better.

John Sterman: 13:27 Oh, we’re still quite far.

Edie Lush: 13:29 Yeah.

John Sterman: 13:29 But there are… there is news here. Now, one thing to notice is subsidizing the renewables did a lot more than just taxing the fossil fuels.

Edie Lush: 13:41 Hmm

John Sterman: 13:41 Uh, and one reason for that is in many parts of the world today, renewables are already cost competitive with fossil fuels.

Edie Lush: 13:50 Hmm.

New Speaker: 13:52 But they also benefit from a very powerful learning curve effect and from scale economies. So, for example, every time cumulative production of solar panels doubles, which is happening every couple of years or so, the costs of the next ones you build go down by a little over 20%… and this is because we have not yet reached the limits of what these technologies can do. It’s the same for wind. It’s the same for, uh, energy storage that you need to handle the variability of wind and solar. And so by subsidizing renewables, you’re having an additional benefit that you’re driving their costs down faster than they would have gone otherwise. And that then leads people to use even more of them, which drives their costs down even faster. You have a beneficial reinforcing feedback loop there. You have a virtuous cycle that the more you use, the cheaper it gets.

Pause: 14:59 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 14:59 That’s right! We need more positive feedback loops! Virtuous cycles instead of vicious ones.

Edie Lush: 15:05 You know, I couldn’t have said that better myself, Claudia. But let’s take a brief break to hear from someone we’re very positive about. Laura Gitman, the chief operating officer of BSR.

Pause: 15:20 [background music]

Edie Lush: 15:21 So what’s the new climate for business? And how and why should companies be preparing for it?

Laura Gitman: 15:27 So we’re living through a period, as many people know, of absolute fundamental change. The only constant is change. And businesses really need to figure out how would they respond to these changes given that the entire framework in which how they operate in is evolving. So from climate disruption to the role of automation, to the implications of artificial intelligence, these create new opportunities for business, but they also change the rules of the game. And at the same time we’re seeing increasing pressures and expectations from employees, from a political environment, from regulators, from consumers that actually redefine and question the purpose for business overall.

Laura Gitman: 16:09 So every day we work with companies as they think about these questions. And one aspect is figuring out what are the issues that are going to impact them. So first we help companies make sense and anticipate the changes that they’re going to be facing. And second, help them figure out how do they meet that challenge. So what are the strategies, what are the products, the services, the ways of partnering and collaborating, in new different kinds of opportunities that enable them to meet those challenges but also meet the challenges that our collective business community are facing. Right? So the challenges of achieving the goals of the SDGs, of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate, and that therefore working together to redefine what that new climate for business means.

Edie Lush: 16:55 And Laura, you’ve got an event coming up in my home state of California. Tell me about it.

Laura Gitman: 17:01 We do! So BSR has our annual conference. This year, it will be hosted in San Jose on November 12th through 14th. To find out more, you can go to

Pause: 17:16 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 17:18 Welcome back! So Edie, how’s the simulation going? Can you give me some hope? Because here, in real life, I’m still very concerned about climate change.

Edie Lush: 17:26 Ah, the simulation is tough. It gives you such a big sense of how complicated everything is, how many choices there are, how everything is interconnected. You think you’re doing something great and then you’ve caused something not okay to happen. However, one thing that is impressive is how well John Sterman is able to explain those choices.

Edie Lush: 17:49 Tell me what about the, the carbon price? I’m interested in what happens if you fool around with that.

John Sterman: 17:55 Right! So up until now, what you’ve done is asked me to tax coal, oil and gas individually, which you can certainly do, but that’s going to be complicated. So I’m going to actually undo those.

Edie Lush: 18:08 Okay.

John Sterman: 18:10 And then we’ll implement a carbon price. So what a carbon price means is that either through a fee, a tax, or a cap and trade program, the price of any CO2 emissions would go up according to how much CO2 is generated. So the carbon price is measured in how many dollars, or euros, or whatever, per ton of carbon dioxide released. So that’s going to affect coal more than natural gas because coal is the most carbon intensive fuel.

Edie Lush: 18:47 Hmm.

John Sterman: 18:47 So let’s pull that lever up to a… a medium level. And remember where we started. We start at now 3.7°C with our subsidies for renewables. Uh, and now we’ll pull up the carbon price to a medium level. And we’re down to 3.3°C.

Edie Lush: 19:06 What does that actually mean? Like consumer going to the pump to fill up their car with gas? What would that mean in terms of a carbon price? Our prices at the pump?

John Sterman: 19:17 Absolutely, great question. So, uh, on all these policy levers, I can click on a button and it shows me all the details. It gives me more advanced options. So right now, we have a carbon price of $50 per ton of carbon dioxide. So what does that mean in the real world at the pump, as you say? Well, in the United States, that would mean that gasoline prices would go up by about 44 cents a gallon. Wow. So, well is that a lot or a little?

Edie Lush: 19:46 Well, I mean it’s definitely internalizing the price on the planet, but it’s a big jump for you know, many people.

John Sterman: 19:55 This is a great, great point. Uh, what are we gonna do with all the revenue from this carbon price? So let me… let’s, let’s take a look at that graph. So, if I look here at the financial impacts, I can look at the revenue and the cost from taxes and subsidies. So you’re subsidizing renewables, that’s going to cost money. Now you’re taxing carbon that’s going to generate revenue.

Edie Lush: 20:19 Mmhm.

John Sterman: 20:19 And you can see here on this graph that the revenue from this carbon tax generates about $2.4 trillion dollars a year globally. And that actually, uh, outweighs the subsidies for decades. So, then the question is what do you do with the revenue? So one of the most popular proposals is rebate it to every person on a per capita basis. So, you would get a carbon dividend check every few months, every quarter of the year, say… and you can do anything you want with that money.

John Sterman: 21:02 So, uh, if you rebate the money to individuals on an equal per capita basis, you convert the carbon price from something that could be regressive to something that’s going to be progressive and help the lower income segment of the population more.

Pause: 21:26 [background music].

Edie Lush: 21:27 Hmm. So what if we look at the next middle part of your screen, or my screen? 23% of greenhouse gases come from the result of burning fuel for industrial purposes. So what happens when we start changing that mix of energy efficiency and electrification? What do those mean?

John Sterman: 21:54 We’ll work on the energy efficiency of buildings and industry. So this includes, uh, industrial facilities and the processes that take place within them. It also includes the energy used in commercial and residential buildings. Now, having a carbon price already has led to some increase in efficiency, but now let’s implement a policy that would do more. So I’ll pull the energy efficiency lever for buildings and… uh, I’ll increase it moderately. And what did it do for us?

Edie Lush: 22:31 Wow, we’re at 3°C!

John Sterman: 22:33 Well, we’re making progress. And that did a lot. One of the reasons which you’ve pointed to is an awful lot of the world’s energy is used in buildings, industry, industrial processes, but also just buildings, commercial, residential, industrial buildings for heating and cooling and all the electricity that’s used within them. So, we’ve done a lot by increasing energy efficiency and there are many, many ways to do that. The other reason that this lever makes a big difference is buildings and processes can almost always be retrofitted.

John Sterman: 23:10 So for example, I’m sitting here with your sound guy, Chuck, in my house and uh, it’s a 90 year old, typical New England home, made out of, uh… you know, uh, what we call stick frame construction. So, two by four studs and so forth. Uh, and, uh… when it was built, it was heated by coal and it had no insulation. Uh, when we bought the house, uh, it was heated by oil and still had no insulation.

Edie Lush: 23:43 Mmhm.

John Sterman: 23:43 So, over the years we, we insulated, we gradually replaced the appliances as they needed to be replaced with much more efficient ones. I swapped out a lot of the light bulbs, etc… and that actually lowered our, uh, carbon emissions for the home quite a lot. But then, uh, about four and a half years ago, we did what’s called a deep energy retrofit. So what does that means? It means, we put in a huge amount of insulation, not just blown into the walls, but extra insulation on the outside of the house. The windows, which were original, were leaky and in pretty bad shape. We put in much better windows that are super efficient. We put in led lighting everywhere, very high efficiency appliances, refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc… we put in heat pump hot water that’s super efficient, gets most of the heat to warm the water from the surrounding air.

Edie Lush: 24:42 Hmm.

John Sterman: 24:42 And we completely eliminated the, uh, fossil fuel heating system, uh, and replaced it with air source heat pumps that provide heating and cooling. And then, we put a solar array on the roof. And now today, uh, our house generates 50% more energy than we use, with no fossil fuel whatsoever.

Edie Lush: 25:13 Wow. So in fact, we need the whole world to do what you’re doing…

Pause: 25:22 [background music]

Edie Lush: 25:22 I want to recap where we are and what we’ve tried. We started at over 4°C of increased in temperature by 2100. We’ve subsidized renewables…

John Sterman: 25:33 Right!

Edie Lush: 25:33 We’ve made the price of carbon higher and we have, uh, worked especially on energy efficiency of buildings. And we’re now at an increase of 3°C, which is still not great. So, this is hard, because so far who either, we’ve already done a lot of work and we’re not there yet. As we know, we want to keep that increased to 2°C or 1.5 would be even better.

John Sterman: 26:08 Right.So the Paris target is no more than 2°C and striving for 1.5 and although you’ve done a great job getting us on the path, 3°C isn’t where we need to go. And just to show you what that means, let’s look at some of the impacts.

Edie Lush: 26:25 Oh, no!

John Sterman: 26:25 Sea level rise, right?

Edie Lush: 26:28 Oh, no!

John Sterman: 26:28 So sea level rise is barely less than what it would have been.

Edie Lush: 26:33 Right!

John Sterman: 26:33 And it’s over. Uh, it’s just about… it’s over a meter right now, and that’s a conservative estimate. So…

Edie Lush: 26:41 I mean it looks like a… it looks like a kind of… one of those… not quite a hockey stick graph, but definitely, you know, on the steady increase…

John Sterman: 26:49 Yes, right.

Edie Lush: 26:51 Over a meter of sea level rise still means a lot of island nations… that great refrain from the Paris accord was 1.5 to stay alive. A lot of those island nations will not be where they are now.

John Sterman: 27:07 Right. And I gotta tell you, it’s even worse than what you’re seeing, because there is a significant risk that sea level rise will be much higher than what you’re seeing here, because of faster melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets than the literature accommodates. So…

Edie Lush: 27:31 Oh my gosh!

John Sterman: 27:31 It is entirely possible…

Edie Lush: 27:31 Oh no, we’re up to 1.8 meters!

New Speaker: 27:36 Yeah, uh. Right. You’re almost a two meters even with your policies so far, this is not at all impossible according to the more recent science and evidence about, uh, accelerating melt of Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet. So, what does that mean? Well, let’s take a look. It’s not just, uh, you know, for the island states. Here’s a…

Edie Lush: 28:02 So you’ve now pulled up a map of the world.

John Sterman: 28:05 Right. I’m going to zoom in on Shanghai just as an illustration. We can look anywhere you like.

Edie Lush: 28:11 Okay…

John Sterman: 28:12 And Shanghai, like many of the world’s great cities is a low lying coastal city on a river delta. What you’re seeing now is Shanghai today.

Edie Lush: 28:21 Mmhm!

John Sterman: 28:23 20 to 25 or more million people in the greater Shanghai area. Uh, now let’s take a look at what happens if there’s 2 meters of sea level rise, which is close to what happens in your scenario so far. And all of these blue areas now are inundated. There are saltwater intrusion coming up through the sewers. Uh, high tides, you’re going to have sunny day flooding as we already have in Miami and up and down the east coast. But it’s worse than this because Shanghai and the coast of China is subject to typhoons! And, uh, a large typhoon like Haiyan, which hit the Philippines a few years ago, or the typhoon that, uh, hit, uh, Tokyo recently, uh, they bring storm surge multimeter storm surge. The storm surge in typhoon Haiyan was 4 meters. So what I can do is I’ll now take our 2 meters of sea level rise, which is causing immense economic hardship all throughout the Shanghai area. And now let’s add a 4 meter storm surge on top of that.

Edie Lush: 29:42 Oh my goodness. Wow. It looks like it’s completely underwater.

John Sterman: 29:48 Right? So, we wouldn’t have to wait until the year 2100 for a disaster like this to be very likely. Uh, and it’s similar if we go elsewhere around the world. Here’s south Florida with 2 meters of sea level rise and a 4 meter storm surge.

Edie Lush: 30:08 So it looks like most of South Florida is blue, as in covered with water.

John Sterman: 30:15 Right. Here’s the Gulf Coast focused on New Orleans…

Edie Lush: 30:19 It looks like it is completely underwater.

John Sterman: 30:19 and New Orleans is already under the the sea level.

Edie Lush: 30:23 Right.

John Sterman: 30:24 It’s gone.

Edie Lush: 30:25 Goodness. Okay. So back to the simulation.

John Sterman: 30:29 Yeah. And you’ve done a great job, uh, with a variety of policies here. Price on carbon, subsidies for renewables, promoting energy efficiency for buildings and industry. You’ve gotten it down more than a full degree C and it’s, so that’s great. It’s still not enough. So, when we come back, I’m going to ask you to see what else you might want to try to get us down towards no more than 2°C.

Pause: 30:55 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 30:59 And we will come back to this and find out if Edie is able to save the planet. But we will do that in the next episode, which we will release after the Climate Summit and the UN General Assembly.

Claudia Edelman: 31:11 We felt that this topic was so important, that we decided to devote these two parts to this area.. and talk about solutions… and I cannot actually tell you how much my imagination goes to see Edie with a red cape and actually like super woman style, flying around that simulator and saving the world!

Edie Lush: 31:28 Hahaha.. you’re just going to have to wait for that , Claudia. In fact, I’m going to see you on Sunday, at the start of of Global Goals Week. We’ve got 5 UN summits, we’ve got 17 big goals. I feel like though, once again, the attention of the world is on New York next week.

Claudia Edelman: 31:46 Yeah. But again and again the relevance is completely different. Today was the day of the opening of the General Assembly and the Secretary General, summed up challenge. He said: we’re losing the race against climate change and our world is off track in meeting the sustainable development goals.

Edie Lush: 32:05 So what we’re talking about with professor Sterman in this whole special episode is how to get the world back on track.

Claudia Edelman: 32:11 And you and I are on the optimistic, we’re actually possibilistic. We are based on Hans Rosling factfullness… when we see the world through data, and the data indicates that we’re on the right track. And nevertheless, there are things that we should pay attention that are concerning. But one thing that I’m very, very clear about, Edie, is how purposed, the sustainable development goals, sustainability, are back on track and are absolutely moving the agenda forward and becoming mainstream. Like the tortilla effect.

Edie Lush: 32:44 What is the Tortilla effect?

Claudia Edelman: 32:46 The tortilla effect is fascinating as an analogy for what we’re talking about. It Is an economic and behavior theory that indicates how a product that is like on the corner of a store, like tortillas in this case, in the Mexican aisle or the exotic food, and have been pushed by consumers to become mainstream, and now have been traveling from one aisle to the other until they are in the mainstream of bread. And people don’t use tortillas anymore only for tacos, they use it for wraps, they use it for snacks, and that is what I’ve seen happens with sustainability and purpose that it has been pushed by consumers to the different aisles and now it’s actually moving from corporate social responsibility in countries, or companies to become part of their central strategy of growth.

Claudia Edelman: 33:29 But there’s another way to get the tortillas from the Mexican corner to the main bread aisle, which is, when the owner of the store would decide, I’m going to impose this product here. And I think that that’s what we were hoping to see next week with decision makers making an imposition and following the trend of purpose and sustainability to impose some action on climate change because that really could have a ripple effect.

Edie Lush: 33:52 I love the Tortilla effect and I think what you’re saying there makes me think of this episode and the idea of what is happening with electric cars when they’re going mainstream and it is coming through in the next couple of years. But we do have to be careful because while electric cars are great, if the electricity that they’re using is not clean, if it comes from coal, then we don’t actually bring the temperature down enough. And I learned that from playing with a simulator from professor Sterman. Individuals don’t clean the power grid, companies do. We have seen some great companies out there and there was a great example a few years ago when Greenpeace, the head of Greenpeace at the time, Kumi Naidoo stood up with the head of NL and agree to take this energy company away from dirty power towards renewables, towards clean energy. So companies have a role to play as do governments, as do consumers.

Claudia Edelman: 34:48 That great news here, Edie is that there’s pressure on decision makers by young people. Greta, coming to New York, arriving with 17 different boats and making waves, and increasingly attracting the attention of citizens, of voters, and of players. And because we’re so many more people like John doing simulations and doing groundbreaking innovation, I think that we have a great opportunity to be part of history, and be, as we say, the first generation that can really stop the impact of climate change. So now my favorite section of the show, where we give three facts that you can show off with your mother-in-law and three actions that you can take so that we can go on climate change, action, action, action. So for these we went to a colleague of John Sterman.

Pause: 35:44 [background music]

Dr. Sawin: 35:46 often addressing climate change is framed as a big sacrifice, as though we have to suffer now in order to protect the climate for the future. But is that an accurate way to think about it? I’m Dr Elizabeth Sawin. I’m co-director of climate interactive, and my research focuses on what I call multi-solving. These are policies and investments that address climate change in ways that save money, improve people’s health, and open up economic opportunity. Here are three examples of multi-solving.

Pause: 36:17 [background music]

Dr. Sawin: 36:17 If 50% of short car trips were replaced by cycling in the biggest cities in the Midwest, each year, 1,295 lives and $8.7 billion would be saved from a combination of improved air quality and better health through increased physical activity. That’s from a study in the journal, environmental health perspectives.

Pause: 36:34 [background music]

Dr. Sawin: 36:34 Between 2000 and 2016 all of the energy efficient LEED certified buildings in the United States combined to reduce air pollution from energy use, enough to avoid hundreds of premature deaths, hundreds of hospital admissions, tens of thousands of asthma cases, and tens of thousands of lost days of work and school.

Pause: 37:00 [background music]

Dr. Sawin: 37:00 Urban trees in Fort Collins, Colorado provided more than double the return on investment required to plant and maintain those trees. The savings came from reducing energy use, improving air quality, reducing storm water runoff, sequestering carbon, and increasing property values,

Pause: 37:16 [background music]

Dr. Sawin: 37:17 …which leads to these three actions. We participate in multi-solving whenever we do home energy tune-ups or add features like green roofs and rain gardens to our properties or walk or cycle to work. These steps, save money in the short term, reduce air pollution and improve our and our neighbor’s health, while also reducing emissions and helping protect the climate for the longterm.

Pause: 37:39 [background music]

Dr. Sawin: 37:41 Many multi-solving opportunities are bigger than one family can take on though. So a second category of action is to engage elected officials to make sure that public spending is directed toward solutions like these multi-solving solutions with multiple benefits. All of us can practice connecting the dots in our own heads and in our conversations with friends and family so that more and more people can see how protecting the climate for the future helps create jobs, economic opportunity and improved health today.

Pause: 38:14 [background music]

Edie Lush: 38:16 Alright, that is it for this special climate episode, at least part one. We’re going to have the second half after next week’s climate summit.

Claudia Edelman: 38:26 Wow Edie, I’m so excited by our new season. We take on climate right at the start. Whoo! See you’re next time Edie.

Edie Lush: 38:33 See you on Sunday in New York, and until then, the big message is, if you liked this, please give us five stars, please subscribe, please tell all of your friends, and go to our social media. @GlobalGoalsCast. Adios.

Claudia Edelman: 38:49 Adios. Don’t forget the Tortilla Effect, Edie. It’s going to come after you.

Pause: 38:58 [background music]

Presenter: 38:58 Global Goals Cast was hosted by Edie lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. Your editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes. Editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider. Our interns last summer, we miss you. where Addy Gisby Ashley Esquivel, Darcy Nelson and Hugh Cruickshank. Music in this episode was by Neil Hail, Andrew Phillips, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crown, and Ashish Paliwal. This episode was made possible with the support of BSR, also CBS News Digital, and Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

32:1 – The Unsustainable Ratio


Sustainable Development Goal 12 calls for responsible production and consumption. As co-host Claudia Romo Edelman points out in this episode, that does not sound as dramatic as ending poverty or educating everyone, but it may be just as important.  There is a disparity of consumption between the Global North and South. SDG 12 is the only goal that specifically calls on rich nations to lead. 

In our interview with Jared Diamond, he says that one American consumes as much as 32 Kenyans. Diamond, UCLA professor and author of the new book,  Upheaval: Turning Points for Nation’s in Crisis,  says this inequality is unsustainable as citizens of poorer countries demand better lives. The only sustainable world, he says, is a more equal world.

Our most dangerous overconsumption is energy from fossil fuels.  Co-host Edie Lush reports on a Financial Times chart which shows only a small percentage of the worlds largest corporations on track to reduce their carbon emissions enough to meet the goals of the Paris Climate accord.

Fuel consumption continues to increase and therefore carbon emissions increase. According to the oil major, BP, renewables and natural gas are the fastest growing energy sources , yet in 2018 carbon emissions grew at their highest rate for 7 years at 2.0%. 

“We use more resources and we are having a heavy footprint which is affecting the biosphere and affecting the climate” says Author and Royal Astronomer Sir Martin Rees, author of On The Future and other books. We need to invest now to protect our children and grandchildren from climate risk, Lord Martin explains, and spending decisions can’t be judged with the same financial tools, such as the discount rate, used to measure the value of traditional investments.

Once again we describe the interconnections of the SDGs. Achieving goal 12, Claudia explains, is connected to achieving goal 13, action to control climate change and The Ceo of our partner, APolitical, Robyn Scott, points out that educating women and girls is on the list of important actions to curb climate change. She offers Facts and Actions.

Claudia and Edie give a shout out to a listener from Pittsburgh, Jason Hallmark. He is on a journey of a lifetime to learn about sustainability in the Arctic and we are very proud to have helped inspire him in a new chapter of his life. 

Two executives from our sponsor, MasterCard, describe financial tools that can improve lives.

Featured guests

Xavier Helgesen

Xavier Helgesen is the Co-Founder and President of Zola Electric, a leading distributed solar energy company focused in Africa. Zola Electric has raised over $150 Million to make solar energy & storage affordable to the mass market via pre-paid, plug and play technology. The company’s investors include Tesla, EDF, General Electric, Total, DBL Partners and Helios Partners.  Previous to Zola Electric, Xavier co-founded Better World Books, the leading online used books seller with over $500M in lifetime sales. He served as CEO of Indaba Systems, a multi-channel software company that allows eCommerce merchants to manage their sales and inventory across multiple channels. Xavier has been recognized as the Best Social Entrepreneur by Businessweek and given the Fast Company Social Capitalist award. 

Robyn Scott

Robyn is co-founder and CEO of Apolitical, a peer-to-peer learning platform for government. Used by public servants in 170 countries, Apolitical’s mission is to accelerate the transformation of government. Previously Robyn co-founded OneLeap, a London-based executive education company, and a Southern African non-profit teaching coding to vulnerable youth. She has written an acclaimed memoir about growing up in Botswana. She is an ambassador for the Access to Medicine Index, an advisor to the Responsible Mining Index, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a Gates Scholar. She has a BSc in Bioinformatics from Auckland University and a Masters in Bioscience Enterprise from Cambridge University.

Martin Rees

Martin Rees is a leading astrophysicist as well as a senior figure in UK science. He has conducted influential theoretical work on subjects as diverse as black hole formation and extragalactic radio sources, and provided key evidence to contradict the Steady State theory of the evolution of the Universe. Martin was also one of the first to predict the uneven distribution of matter in the Universe, and proposed observational tests to determine the clustering of stars and galaxies. Much of his most valuable research has focused on the end of the so-called cosmic dark ages — a period shortly after the Big Bang when the Universe was as yet without light sources. As Astronomer Royal and a Past President of the Royal Society, Martin is a prominent scientific spokesperson and the author of seven books of popular science. After receiving a knighthood in 1992 for his services to science, he was elevated to the title of Baron Rees of Ludlow in 2005.

Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author, most recently, of Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, as well as The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the widely acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, which is also the winner of Britain’s 1998 Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize.  Dr. Diamond is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (“Genius Award”); research prizes of the American Physiological Society, National Geographic Society, and Zoological Society of San Diego; and many teaching awards and endowed public lectureships. In addition, he has been elected a member of all three of the leading national scientific/academic honorary societies (National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society).

Tara Nathan

Tara Nathan is Executive Vice President for the Humanitarian & Development sector at Mastercard. In this role, she leads the company’s strategy to develop and scale products & solutions for the Base of the Pyramid. The Humanitarian & Development team is dedicated to creating an ecosystem that streamlines access to education, health, commerce, and other vital services for the most vulnerable communities. Tara’s team is focused on driving commercially sustainable social impact. Before Mastercard, she worked at Mobile Payment Solutions as the chief executive officer leading the innovation and commercial development of the Mastercard Mobile Payments Gateway a platform designed to facilitate mobile payments for consumers around the world. Before joining Mastercard, Ms. Nathan worked in various managerial positions at Citigroup’s retail banking business and was a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service working in Taiwan, Japan and China. She earned a BSFS from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Shamina Singh

Shamina Singh is President of the Center for Inclusive Growth and Executive Vice President of Sustainability at Mastercard. In these roles she is responsible for advancing equitable economic growth and inclusion around the world. A graduate of the Shamina Singh is President of the Center for Inclusive Growth and Executive Vice President of Sustainability at Mastercard. In these roles she is responsible for advancing equitable economic growth and inclusion around the world. A graduate of the Presidential Leadership Fellows program, an alum of the Young Global Leaders program of the World Economic Forum, a Henry Crown Fellow with the Aspen Institute, she currently sits on the boards of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, Data & Society, and the Global Health Corps. Prior to joining Mastercard, Shamina led Government and Public Affairs for Nike and spent five years with Citi’s Global Community Development Group. Over a 15-year career in the public sector, Shamina has held senior positions in the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Audio Music: 00:02

Sir Martin Rees: 00:03 the world has existed for 45 million centuries, but this is really the first century when one species, the human species can determine the planets fate we use more resources and we are having a heavy footprint which is affecting the biosphere and affecting the climate.

Jared Diamond: 00:23 Consumption rates, meaning consumption rates of water, fuel and other resources. Metals in the developed world on the average about 32 times those in the poorest countries, and that means that one American citizen has the impact of the world of 32 Kenyans. It’s becoming increasingly impossible to have a stable world with big differences in standards of livings around the world. The only stable outcome is going to be a world with much more equal standards of living around it.

Audio Music: 01:02 [inaudible]

Edie Lush: 01:02 welcome to the global goals cast,

Claudia R E: 01:04 the podcast that explores how to change the world.

Edie Lush: 01:07 That world of ours, particularly the rich world, is consuming more than our planet can sustain

Claudia R E: 01:12 Edie our listeners already know as well as we do that we are burning eating and tossing away so much that both the air and the seas will be ruined if we do not make changes. They also know that while there is some action going on, we are not moving fast enough.

Edie Lush: 01:31 Yes, so what we’re going to show you today are two different ways we can approach the problem from two pretty stellar thinkers, Jared Diamond and Martin Rees. Plus we’re going to share with you a sustainable energy solution that already serves a million people in Africa and is scalable right now to billions of people all around the world. But first, this message from the sponsors who make this a sustainable podcasts.

Speaker 3: 02:00 This episode is sponsored by mastercard and our thanks to CBS News, digital and to Harmon, the official sound of global goals cast.

Edie Lush: 02:16 Welcome back. I’m Edie Lush

Claudia R E: 02:18 and I am Claudia Romo Edelman. Very lucky to be sharing the same actually physical place to do this recording. I know

Edie Lush: 02:26 surprise special here we are in Cannes at the Cannes lions festival.

Claudia R E: 02:30 At six o’clock in the morning.

Edie Lush: 02:32 Yeah.

Claudia R E: 02:32 Actually in a very little room that is not sound protected like our studios, full of pictures saying we’re strong like superman and [inaudible]. But what a treat to be here with you

Edie Lush: 02:45 it is great.

Claudia R E: 02:48 So we’re going to have a great episode today because we’re going to be talking about how the end of the century may feel like a long way off, but actually it is within the lifetime of people alive today. Our kids, Edie will be in their nineties by the turn of the century. Oh, it’s crazy to imagine that our kids will be that old

Edie Lush: 03:07 I know, with wrinkles. [laughing] So one of the questions we will ask is how can we learn to think long term or at least longer term to protect the world of the day after tomorrow, the one our children and grandchildren will live in. And I think Claudia, that you will be a cool granny.

Claudia R E: 03:27 Like totally. You can picture it, right? Like the bikinis the motorcycle, the boots. The question really Edie is what kind of a world will we be living? The motivation behind this episode is sustainable development. Goal number 12 responsible production and consumption. We hardly hear about this goal. and it might not sound very dramatic like ending poverty or educating everyone, but actually it is as dramatic and like every other goal. It is connected to so many other goals. Climate Change, sustainable cities life in the sea. We want to understand the problem and we want to take a stab and how to address it.

Edie Lush: 04:09 So I sought out Jared diamond. He’s a professor at my Alma Mater, UCLA go Bruins and a Pulitzer Prize winning author of books on why civilizations succeed and fail. His new book upheaval looks at our modern world. I kicked off by asking him about the world’s population growth.

Jared Diamond: 04:31 World’s human population is a subject that was at the forefront 30 40 years ago when many people said it’s the biggest problem for the world. Since then, we’ve learned, no, it’s not the biggest problem for the world. What counts is not the raw number of people. What counts is the total consumption rate because there’s enormous variation between people’s consumption rates in different parts of the world. Consumption rates, meaning consumption rates of water, fuel and other resources, metals in the developed world on the average about 32 times those in the poorest countries, and that means that one American citizen has the impact of the world up 32 Kenyans. I mentioned specifically Kenyon’s because there are many Americans who feel indignant and concerned about the growing population of Africa and yes, it’s a tragedy for Africa, but as far as the impact on the world is concerned, 50 million Kenyans or equivalent to 1.7 million Americans Kenya is trivial for its impact on the world. That’s why I say that what counts is consumption rates rather than population itself. climate change is often equated…

Edie Lush: 05:52 Climate change is arguably the worst effect of over consumption. We’re burning way more fuel than the atmosphere can hold safely. but there are those who say technology will save us from having to cut consumption by engineering the damage back out of the atmosphere. Diamond disagrees.

Jared Diamond: 06:10 There were proposed geoengineering solutions of, of scattering iron particles in the ocean or shooting things into the atmosphere and calculations are made that they want to produce such and such on effect. And behold they do have that effect in the laboratory. The problem is that how a manipulation works in the laboratory is not necessarily a good predictor of how it Will work up in the atmosphere and the prime example of that is chlorofluorocarbons gases in the laboratory, CFCs absolutely benign. It turned out something unpredictable. The CFCs released into the atmosphere destroy the ozone layer, which protects us against ultraviolet light and it’s a really serious effect. It took about 20 years to establish it. The chemical industry kicked and screamed and saying said, no, CFCs are innocent and turned out they were not as innocent, but it took 20 years to convince people. And I will give you one more example because today it seems so ridiculous. One of my teachers at university, he was sufficiently old, but he was alive in the first decade in the 19 hundreds when automobiles were replacing horses on the streets of New York and Boston. And as automobiles began to replace horses, people were thrilled because horses deposit Manure and the Clickety clack of the hooves on the street is noisy until what automobiles came in. People said thank God with automobiles our cities are now going to be clean and quiet. Haha. Unexpected side effects of automobiles

Edie Lush: 07:46 let me read you a quotation from your book. So does this mean that climate change is unstoppable? No, of course not. Climate change is being caused overwhelmingly by human activities. So all we have to do in order to reduce climate change is to reduce those human activities. That means burning less fossil fuel, getting more energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and nuclear. So it sounds easy, right?

Jared Diamond: 08:15 The principle is easy. The only difficulty is in persuading people to do it. That’s to say persuading people to burn less fossil fuel. And that requires two things, less energy consumption overall and more of that energy coming from non fossil fuel sources so it really is very simple. And there are people who are inclined to do it now. We have to get more people inclined to do it. Government action can help by making it illegal to do various things. For example, my understanding is that big cars like Humvees with low gas mileage like six miles per gallon in the United, you may incur lower automobile taxes. They can be classified as farm vehicles or other things, which means that that it’s cheaper to buy a Humvee than to buy a Prius. Whereas in Europe, big vehicles are tax equal to the cost of the car itself. That’s to say if you choose to buy a Humvee, that’s your privilege, but you will pay double the market price of the Humvee to drive a Humvee. That is a way to discourage people from buying gas coddling vehicles in. In short, a combination of government action at personal decisions can reduce burning of fossil fuels.

Edie Lush: 09:35 So the other issue is of course the apparently low cost of fossil fuels. So how do we include those indirect costs of a liter of fossil fuels or a gallon of gasoline?

Jared Diamond: 09:49 A simple way would be to include in the price of fossil fuels, the damage costs of the fossil fuels incur. If, for example, a farmer chooses to spread oil over his fields for some reason and the oil leaks to a neighbor’s fields and the neighbor sues the first farmer, the neighbor will win the lawsuit and will make the first farmer pay for the damage done to the fields of the second farmer. Fossil fuels are doing that. They’re producing cost for the entire world, but when you buy your gasoline in California for $4 and 23 cents a gallon in Los Angeles, now, yes, the gas cost $4 and 23 cents a gallon, but it causes $35 per gallon of damage to the whole world and that $35 or to be included, if you want to drive a car and burn gas and have your Humvee, by all means do so what you should have to pay the $35 for the damage that you causing.

Edie Lush: 10:47 What do you say about the indirect costs of renewables? So people who don’t like solar farms because of the impact that has on the desert tortoise, for example, in California or birds killed by windmills. What about the indirect costs there?

Speaker 2: 11:03 Yes, renewables do have indirect costs which need to be taken into account. The solar fields in the deserts of California. They do remove habitat for desert tortoises, therefore would be appropriate for solar farms. Also to set aside $250,000 per square mile solar farm in order to mitigate the damage to the um, desert tortoises. And as for windmills, yes windmills do kill Migrant Birds and bats. Last estimate I saw was that windmills kill someone like 45,000 birds per year in the United States. Well an outdoor cat, it turns out, kills 300 birds per year. And therefore the windmills in the United States, are the equivalent of 135 cats. Therefore, to mitigate windmills, you can mitigate windmills if you eliminated 135 cats. Yes, we should do that. But that’s pretty cheap. Fossil fuels, I would rather eliminate 135 cats

Edie Lush: 12:01 or maybe put a lot of bells around them.

Edie Lush: 12:06 So we’re in Europe here and there is a strange dichotomy between Europe and the United States. Americans have a higher rate of energy consumption, which is twice Europe’s, and that’s despite Europeans enjoying a higher standard of living than American.

Jared Diamond: 12:23 It is true that Americans have roughly double the rate of fuel consumption of Europeans. Part of the reason of course is that the distances in the United States are larger and your jet plane burns more fuel if you fly from Boston to Los Angeles, then if you fly from London to Manchester, that’s part of the reason. The other reason is that Americans are very wasteful of energy. I’m particularly with respect to our automobiles and we do not make Americans pay for the privilege of driving their Humvees and the other gas guzzling automobiles.

Edie Lush: 12:59 Until recently, the existence of poor people elsewhere in the world didn’t constitute a threat to the overindulgent over consumptive lifestyles of those who lived in the United States. But that has changed.

Speaker 2: 13:15 Those poor people out there in the past 60 years ago didn’t pose a threat to Americans because number one, they didn’t have television and cell phones and they didn’t know about the wonderful, luxurious lifestyle in the United States firsthand. And secondly, with the methods of travel, the first time I came to Europe in 1950 I came by ship nowadays we would never dream of coming by ship to Europe and you fly, fly by airplane, people move much more easily around the world. And that means among other things that they can immigrate and immigrate much more easily. So there’s much more immigration pressure. It’s understandable that people from the developing world war to move because they have a much less satisfactory lifestyle and they know that their government is not going to solve their lifestyle within the lifetime or within the lifetime and the children. So of course they want to migrate, but migrating also means increasing the impact of the world. Or what it means is that the, a stable world requires a more equal world. It’s becoming increasingly impossible to have a stable world with big differences in standards of livings around the world, and the only stable outcome is going to be a world with much more equal standards of living around it.

Jared Diamond: 14:35 The world does have a track record of solving really thorny problems and some of those problems include delineating overlapping economic zones along the coast in shallow water. Wherever you get two countries that are adjacent to each other with seacoast they are likely to have overlapping coastal economic zones and it is really thorny to decide how to delineate the economic zones of adjacent countries. Nevertheless, negotiations were carried out all around the world with a result that there is agreement on economic zones between every neighboring country that has a seacoast. That was a really difficult problem, but the negotiation succeeded. Another negotiation that succeeded was establishing a framework, for mining minerals from the sea bed on the floor of the sea or the mineral nodules, which essentially are pure minerals. The technology was available for mining the mineral nodules on the ocean bottom decades ago, but there wasn’t a legal framework, meaning that if you sent out one country sent out a ship to suck up minerals here, another country could send out a ship 200 feet away and suck up those same minerals. Therefore, there was not, nobody wanted to invest in the economics of harvesting minerals from the ocean floor, but now in the last few decades, there is a legal framework. It was again, thorny to negotiate. One of the things that made it difficult to negotiate is that all of those landlocked countries like Zambia and Mongolia and Bolivia and lows were screaming, this does us no good. Those countries that have sea coast they’re the ones that can suck up the minerals and there’s no way we can suck them up. So of course we’re not going to agree to a plan that allows those countries where the seacoast and suck up the minerals. There were negotiations and the results of the negotiations, which took a decade or a couple of decades, is that the landlocked, countries like Bolivia in Zambia, they get 15% of the royalties that are produced by the coastal country. It was difficult negotiation. Those are examples of the world resolving by negotiation, difficult problems of competition between nations. Since we solve those difficult problems, that gives some grounds for optimism that we could also solve climate change and non sustainable resource use. One can object, well climate change is more difficult than those problems that we’ve solved this is more difficult than the mineral noduels on the ocean floor and yes, it’s probably true that climate change is more difficult with the fact is that there is a framework and the framework has succeeded in many difficult cases.

Edie Lush: 17:17 We also live in a world in which corporations, companies, some of them have much larger GDPs if they were to be a country Zambia you mentioned it is in terms of its GDP is actually much lower than a lot of the companies listed on the S&P 500 or the ftse 100 so what role do you see that corporations that business can play in this world?

Jared Diamond: 17:41 20 years ago I would’ve answered the role that business plays in the world is evil because Zambia is not only smaller Coca Cola and Chevron, but Zambia doesn’t do evil to the rest of the world. Where as Coca Cola and Chevron and Walmart do do evil to the rest of the world. They do no good and they are environmentally damaging and they’re among the worst effects on the environment today. That was what I would have said 20 years ago and there was some justice to it. What has changed since then is first Jared has learned on, I’m on the board board of directors of World Wildlife Fund US and I’ve been on the board of directors of the Conservation International. On the boards of these big environmental organizations are CEOs and leaders of Coca Cola. The head of the board of trustees of world wildlife on US was the CEO of Coca Cola and on the Board of Conservation International is Rob Walton, son of Sam Walton, head of Walmart and Unilever has also been a big player with World Wildlife Fund. I’ve discovered a couple of things, one that they found it in their interest to be environmentally clean. That’s not to say that big corporations are environmentally clean across the board. Yes, still doing the really, some really bad things, but also some big corporations are among the most powerful forces for environmental good in the world today and that’s something that lots of radical environmentalists don’t want to hear about. I can discuss anything with my wife but not Walmart, [laugh]

Edie Lush: 19:23 So it seems that globalization, which is sort of how you ended that book is both a blessing and a curse and I wonder how you come down on it when you think, how is this going to play out? Maybe not for you and me, but for our descendants.

Jared Diamond: 19:39 I’m laughing because when you said globalization is both a blessing and a curse that applies so many things. Marriage is a blessing and a curse. Children are a blessing and a curse. How can we maximize the benefits of globalization while minimizing the damage? Globalization means that ideas and technologies do spread rapidly around the world. That includes good constructive technologies as well as bad technology spreading around the world. Globalization means that that countries today no longer have the option of collapsing one by one. Quite a few of the most powerful societies of the past collapsed due to environmental damage. They were auto sufficient. They depended largely on their own resources and so when the classic Maya civilization of the yucatan, the most advanced civilization in the new world before Columbus collapsed, nobody knew about in Europe and probably nobody knew about or in the valley of Mexico either. Today, societies can collapse one by one because they are supported by other societies. That’s an advantage. That of globalization. Drawbacks of globalization of ones we’ve talked about, namely the spread of diseases around the world and the unstoppable movements of of people. The challenge for us is to reduce the bad effects of globalization and to increase the good effects. Just as the challenge for any couple is to, increase the benefits of a marriage and to produce the disadvantages.

Edie Lush: 21:09 Thank you very much, professor Diamond. I really appreciate your time.

Jared Diamond: 21:13 You are welcome.

Edie Lush: 21:16 It was fascinating hearing Jared Diamond describing his conversion from thinking corporations were a lot of the problem to believing corporations are part of the solution. Just after I talked to him, the Financial Times came out with an interesting chart that showed that only 15% of the 500 biggest businesses in the world, on course to reduce their carbon consumption and enough to be in line with the Paris accords.

Claudia R E: 21:41 So a lot of work still to be done and one place we always draw inspiration from is you, you our dear listeners. Edie, did you hear about our listener in Pittsburgh, Jason Hallmark?

Edie Lush: 21:53 I did. What a courageous man.

Claudia R E: 21:55 Oh my God.

Edie Lush: 21:56 He was inspired by our episodes last season in which Robert Swan and his son made a challenging track to the South Pole, relying only on sustainable energy, but hallmark had a challenge of his own. He was diagnosed last year with multiple sclerosis,

Claudia R E: 22:10 but he didn’t let that stop him. Three days after the diagnosis, he applied to a program he heard about here at the global goals cast. It’s called leadership on the edge and he spending 10 days in June this year in the program to witness climate change in the Arctic and bringing the lessons home to Pittsburgh.

Edie Lush: 22:31 I have chills, Jason, we hope you’re having a great trip. Drop us a line. We’re very proud of you for taking action

Claudia R E: 22:38 and in a moment we will hear from another big thinker about the future. Lord Martin Rees hit up the center of for existential risks, astronomer royal of the United Kingdom and from an entrepreneur who has the signed solar powered electric grids so that Africa can grow without adding to the carbon problem

Edie Lush: 22:59 but first. Another great executive from our sponsor, MasterCard

Shamina Singh: 23:05 with the girls for Tech Program that actually mastercard launched in 2014 again, we’re going to create a new set of actors in the technology space that heretofore just haven’t been there unless we make sure that women and girls have access to the learning, to the tools, to the education that’s required to not only succeed in this new economy that actually shape the new economy, we won’t realize the potential of what’s possible. So girls for tech is about creating future problem solvers. That’s how we see girls in the future and right now. So we have to make sure that the stem principles are shared equally and we have a goal actually to reach 200,000 girls by 2020 we’re halfway there in 25 countries because we’re a global company with network all over the world. We’re in 210 markets. When you’re a company like mastercard who has for each, everywhere ubiquitous, you have an opportunity to reach everyone everywhere.

Edie Lush: 24:09 That’s Shamina Singh from mastercard. Later on we’ll hear from Tara Nathan on how mastercard used it’s fin tech skills to deliver humanitarian aid.

Claudia R E: 24:19 But now we go from Ucla to Cambridge. We do not always spend so much so much time the ivory tower Edie.

Edie Lush: 24:26 I know, I couldn’t. I couldn’t resist an interview with Martin Rees because I have wanted to interview him for ages. My only regret is that I couldn’t find a way to get into his views on black holes or whether we should send people into space or leave it to robots.

Sir Martin Rees: 24:43 The theme of my book on the future is that the world has existed for 45 million centuries, but this is really the first century when one species, the human species can determine the planet’s fate. And this is the two reasons. One is that, uh, there are more others were more empowered by technology. We use more resources and we are having a heavy footprint, which is affecting the biosphere and affecting the climate.

Edie Lush: 25:13 Sir Martin talks about being deep in the anthropocene. The moment we’re in right now, when one species, the human race is so empowered and dominant that it has the planet’s future in his hands. I asked him if that means we’re creating measurable physical changes to Earth that are on a geological timescale,

Sir Martin Rees: 25:33 well a short-term geological time scale really. And uh, one of the pointers of the biosphere and the climate have been changed going very slow timescales, whereas they’re now changing on a human timescale. Of the lesson the century, which is a close, very, very much faster. And that’s why species can’t adapt to climate change and a leading to mass extinctions. And sadly we are risking destroying the book of life before we’ve read it. If we have mass extinctions,

Claudia R E: 26:01 Jared Diamond’s spoke about internalizing the externality or making the cost of a car include its impact on the environment. Martin Reese spoke about taking another concept, the discount rate commonly used in finance to determine What is worth spending now to achieve some value in the future? And what happens when you apply that approach to our impact on the environment?

Sir Martin Rees: 26:26 Well, everyone values immediate benefits rather than deferred benefits. And of course this is a standard discount rate that’s used in all economic decision making. How much more you value having something now compared to one year or 10 years or 50 years in the future. And of course, uh, this discount rate which is used by banks and everyone else is determined by a concatenation of economic factors. But the point I would like to emphasize is that the discount rate, which is appropriate in making many economic decisions is not the one which is appropriate when we are thinking about the future of generations as yet unborn. And uh, when we think about them, we’ve got to not value less. What happens at the end of ascension and now we’ve got to prepare to spend money now in order to alleviate any burdens that people at the end of ascension will have. And I think the psychological reason for this is that we do care about the life chances of babies born today who’ll be alive in the 22nd century. And if it would be shameful if the legacy that we left for future generations was a depleted and more dangerous world.

Claudia R E: 27:39 Part of the problem is that making decisions for those who will live in 2100 requires making real sacrifices today. I mean spending sacrifices, lowering investment rates, lower in consumption, a lower discount rate. But we have done it before.

Edie Lush: 27:57 I asked Sir Martin if it’s fair to say that climate change isn’t a scientific challenge anymore because we actually know the science,

Sir Martin Rees: 28:05 we know enough science to know there’s a substantial risk of something really bad by the end of the century. And that’s why we need to take precautions to remove that risk. The most important thing we could do to, uh, reduce the risk of long term climate change would be to accelerate research and development into all forms of clean energy. The first of the research is done, the quicker advances we’ve made and the cost will come down. And if you think of India, where they are now depend on energy from smokey stoves, burning wood and Dung, they need more energy. They need a grid of some kind. And if we can accelerate the development of clean energy so cheap, then they will leapfrog directly to clean energy and not build coal fire power stations. Its what they do otherwise. So to accelerate clean energy development is I think an important global goal and the deed would be hard to think of a more inspirational challenge for young scientists and engineers than to develop clean energy quickly for the whole world.

Edie Lush: 29:12 There obviously needs to be commitment from governments and more regulation and more encouragement for business to invest in these areas as well as for universities to invest in research. But how do you make that happen?

Sir Martin Rees: 29:30 Well obviously the governments can provide the right incentives and a carbon tax, particularly a fiscally neutral carbon tax where the money raised in the tax is used to lower other taxes. That’s a very attractive idea. But the important requirement is to make the public care so the politicians feel they can take these long term decisions and prioritize the longterm without losing votes. And that’s the important thing which we are lacking. So we need more charismatic individuals who can actually persuade the public that we need to do this and it’d be good in the long run. I think when we look back through history, we know that most major changes were initiated by a few key figures and then became mass movements and then the politicians took them up and took action. That’s true of slavery. It’s true of a civil rights that’s true of gay rights and we hope that will become true of the environment. But as apart from that, I think we do have to incentivize the kind of behavior which is helpful environmentally by, uh, appropriate taxes and regulations.

Edie Lush: 30:50 So it’s always part of each episode to present someone who’s out there trying to solve the problems we described. Today that person is Xavier Helgeson an entrepreneur who is doing one of the things Martin Rees called for accelerating clean energy in poor countries.

Xavier Helgesen: 31:08 the average African only uses one or 2% of the power of the average American. And the thinking was that if people could get started with clean energy and use that as their primary source of power and that adding more clean energy was the cheapest and most reliable way to get more power than people would keep using it in the uh, electrical system would grow up in a distributed manner. People know what electricity is, people know electricities everywhere. The question for them is how do I get it in my house and can I afford it? And if I get a solar power system, will it work? And will it keep working? People focus on the solar panel, but really the essence of an off grid solar power system is the smart battery and the battery needs to last for years. So the reason people typically choose our systems is because either they have no electric grid connection or that electric grid connection is unreliable or, or unstable self sufficiency is very, very important to people in these environments because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Edie Lush: 32:15 I asked Xavier how it works and why it’s affordable.

Xavier Helgesen: 32:19 We designed the capacity based on your needs in a particular segment. So one common example might be a solar power system where you could power your lights and a TV and a fan, but couldn’t power an air conditioner or a fridge to an American that might be unacceptable. But to a middle class African or Indian household, that could be exactly what they need to solve their electrical problem. And designing for the specific use allows you to hit cost targets that allow you to be as affordable as $10 a month. So one other aspect we focus on is integrating the financing into the hardware. So it works like a prepaid mobile phone where people pay in small increments and when they make a payment via their mobile phone, the solar power system in their home unlocks and produces power. And this allows us to extend financing at lower rates even to rural African customers who don’t have traditional credit

Xavier Helgesen: 33:21 Well, we don’t always realize when we have discussions about consumption or over consumption, we don’t always talk about over consumption of what and is that resource finite or, or not finite. So electricity is not really finite. We can produce many, many multiples of what we consume, even if we were all a huge energy gluttons because there’s lots of ways to produce power. And the good news today is that a solar panel on a rooftop is the cheapest source of electricity for the vast majority of people in the world. So the trick then becomes an integration problem. How do we integrate that solar electricity, which happens at random times during the day when the sun shines to serve a billion people with reliable power and allow people to build networks of self generated power. And this becomes very, very powerful because then communities of any scale, whether it’s just myself and my neighbor, whether it’s my town, they can electrify in a way that’s entirely under their control. Most people aspire to own a home rather than rent, but almost everyone in the world rents their electricity. Now I can imagine quite a few people would prefer to own that either themselves or cooperatively with other members of their community.

Claudia R E: 34:46 Edie 1 image sticks to my mind of like from all of the episodes, everything that we heard. The problem is not population growth. It is how much we consume. I mean, if we all consume like Kenyans, the planet will be okay, but we all consume like Americans, then the world is going to be toast. Yet Kenyan’s understandably want to improve their lives and that means consuming more. I think that both Martin Rees and Diamond made the point that we need to find some middle ground. Some poor countries will increase consumption, but that means that even more pressure should be put into the richer countries to reduce their levels of consumption. But that was mind blowing for me. It’s not about the population growth is about consumption. Yeah, crazy.

Edie Lush: 35:33 So that means that everybody needs to make changes and that includes big corporations like oil companies. I was amazed to see the BP report recently, the new chair of BP, Helge Lund saying that the world can’t continue along its current path and that a faster transition will require a huge reengineering of the energy system that’s going to present a significant challenge for the world’s biggest oil and gas companies. And did you see just yesterday, a collection of those big oil and gas companies were together with the pope in the Vatican signing an agreement saying that they were going to adhere to the Paris agreement. So Martin Reese had talked to me about how the world needs more of these big personalities like the Pope, like David Attenborough using their influence to have people and companies make changes. So I was pretty excited to see that.

Claudia R E: 36:24 Yeah, and I’ve seen it here. I mean like people are moving away from, depending on, government only since leadership is not that clear anymore. So people and influencers such as, you know, like companies, CEOs, people that they trust, like David Attenborough, are the one that are taking gonna take this stage

Edie Lush: 36:44 and we’ve seen insurance companies like Munich Re saying, we have to recognize a climate risk much more than we do, which of course would increase the justification for us paying now to protect us later. Back to Martin Rees’s point

Claudia R E: 36:59 the UN is planning a summit on this topic in September. As a fact the secretary general is up on to his neck in this. Well actually, he was in the Pacific Ocean up to his knees for a cover photo for Time magazine, just to dramatize the plight of Pacific island nations that are drowning like the ones that we’ve spoken to before, like Palau. I just wonder Edie, what do you think of the impact that documenters have had on the consumption of fast food? For example, do you remember supersize me or Cowspiracy maybe there’s a need to have more documentaries on plastic, carbon, fresh water, aquifers, and all about the cycle of consumption. I still don’t have a sense that we cracked the zeitgeist

Edie Lush: 37:46 I agree. I mean I, I have seen just in the tube in the last week more and more ads for different products from Unilever for example, who I know is promising to be a 100% recyclable, a real cutback on single use plastics. I’ve seen some incredible new innovation. It does need to be taken up a lot faster.

Claudia R E: 38:06 And we are here recording from Cannes. We are at the Cannes advertisement festival. And Edie, yesterday was my first day judging.

Edie Lush: 38:13 How did it go?

Claudia R E: 38:14 Well I saw a lot of publicity like last year on earth, on plastic, on consumption, how companies should totally disappears, S for example. And how that, I think that that’s going to become even more sexy in the future moving forward.

Edie Lush: 38:31 And just walking down the cross set. I’ve seen a lot about equality, about diversity, about inclusion. So it does feel like the words at least are getting out there.

Claudia R E: 38:40 And the listeners, if you know of documentaries that we should be highlighting on the topics is if you know of any activity that we should be highlighting, let us know.

Edie Lush: 38:53 And on the global goalsCast, we always give you three facts you can take away to look smart in front of your mother in law and three actions that you can take and to date those come from our partner, apolitical from Robyn Scott.

Robyn Scott: 39:08 It’s such a pleasure to join this important podcast to share three potion facts and three simple actions for driving responsible consumption and production. The first fact is that our current population of 7.7 billion people is expected to grow by a massive 26% by 2050 that’s according to the UN’s latest population report, which brings me to fact 2 the book Drawdown, surprisingly ranked educating girls and family planning as the sixth and seventh most important strategies for reducing climate change. The third fact is that responsible consumption increasingly invoke opportunities, not sacrifices take Amsterdam sharing economy initiative, which is building shared services that not only help us reduce waste, but also save us money and bring our communities closer together. And in a world where jobs are increasingly being lost to automation, the International Labor Organization estimates that the green economy could create 24 million jobs by 2030 now onto three actions. First, reduce the animal products you consume. Animal agriculture accounts for whopping 14% or more of global emissions, so go and buy some of those new meat alternatives like impossible burgers. This not only reduces your meat consumption, it also incentivizes private investors and governments to put more money into innovation around alternatives to meat. Second, read the book Drawdown, which tells you all the things you can do and shouldn’t do and what matters most. It also has some amazing facts like how you dispose of your refrigerator really, really matters. Third vote for politicians with policy solutions such as jacinda ardern’s wellbeing budget, which takes the focus off GDP alone. The scale of this challenge requires a scale of policy, so follow apolitical on Twitter and at apolitical dot. CO for examples of policies that are working around the planet for the planet. Thanks for listening and for caring.

Edie Lush: 41:21 And now a little more from our sponsor mastercard.

Tara Nathan: 41:27 What the mastercard aid network was was a digital wallet that enabled a beneficiary who was sitting in a remote place, whether in Yemen in a disconnected environment with no mobile phone coverage with no power, no electricity, the ability to receive digitally their food and their humanitarian benefits. What this does is because they’re receiving it digitally, it gives that beneficiary the ability to redeem at a local marketplace just like you or I would. It enables them to redeem their benefits for fresh fruits and fresh vegetables and to actually make healthy choices for their families. The other side of that really is what it does for the organizations that service and that serve these beneficiaries like the the NGOs who we partner with and that is, it gives them a more cost effective way, a more auditable, a more transparent way to provide these benefits.

Edie Lush: 42:28 That was Tara Nathan of mastercard who sponsored the entire season of global goals cast, we thank them for being with us the entire way.

Claudia R E: 42:40 Edie, that’s it. This is episode and season two of the global goals casts. Thank you. Thank you to all our guests. Thank you to all our listeners. You can find out more on our website, global Please like and subscribe where ever you get your podcast and follow us on social media at global goals cast.

Edie Lush: 43:02 See you in season three.

Claudia R E: 43:04 See you in season three, Sayonara

New Speaker: 43:04 [inaudible] music in this episode was by Neil Hale. Andrew Phillips, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crown and Ashish Paliwal. This episode was made possible with the support of mastercard, CBS News digital, and Harmon, the official sound of global goals cast.

Edie Lush: 43:37 We want to give us the special thanks to our interns for the summer. Darcy Nelson. Addie Gibsy and Ashley Esquivel. We could not have done this without you and thank you to Keith Reynolds from spoke media for lending us his ear.

Make Food Not War


The single largest cause of acute hunger in the world is not a lack of food, it is war and conflict. The World Food Program says conflict has pushed 74 million people to the edge of starvation. One of the most severe situations is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where militias and marauding gangs have driven millions of farmers off their land. GGC discusses the crisis with the director of the World Food Program in the DRC, Claude Jibidar, Rosette Kasereka, a farmer and Zachary, a former child soldier. The fertile DRC could easily grow enough food for all its people and all of Africa, for that matter, if the fighting would only stop, Jibidar tells co-hosts Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. Humanitarian groups and governments have adopted a new approach focused on ending need as well as delivering aid. In the DRC, that need is an end to violence. So WFP and other groups have focused on peacemaking. Kasereka credits a WFP program for uniting farmers. “Through union is power,” she says, ”we have become one. It has brought us together in this in this conflict situation that we lived before.“

This episode also features an interview with Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President of Humanitarian & Development at our sponsor, Mastercard. She describes how Mastercard helps humanitarian groups, corporations and governments to get out of their silos and work together.

Since 2012, Mastercard and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have been working together to deliver innovative solutions to help create a world with Zero Hunger. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

In 2017, Mastercard launched the 100 Million Meals initiative to raise funds for children in need around the world via cause marketing campaigns and events,. These campaigns support WFP school meals programmes, which can mean not only better nutrition and health, but also increased access to and achievement in education.

Featured guests


Zachary spent 5 years as a child soldier for an armed militia in the DRC – aged 13 to 18. Alongside other young people who had left the armed groups he underwent training organised by local NGOs, UNDP and UNICEF.  WFP ensured that he was fed while at the National Institute for Professional Training (Institut National de Formation Professionnelle: INPP). Now he has started a business using the computer and printer he was given as part of the training. He writes resumes and letters on Word, makes PowerPoint presentations and downloads movies and music for the people of his village and hopes one day to be a computer engineer. Since returning, he has dissuaded more young people from joining armed groups as he did.

Rosette Kasereka

Rosette Kasereka is a farmer in the North Kivu province of the DRC. She was displaced from her home for many years and was unable to farm. Since being able to return to her home she has participated in WFP and FAO’s resilience-building project known as “Purchase for Progress”, or P4P. The project helps farmers increase output and improve access to markets. Rosette now manages a warehouse which as a result of P4P is bringing in more produce than ever before. The increased amounts of money this project creates allows the farms to grow and for children to be sent to school. Rosette now passes on what she has learnt from being a part of P4P to other female farmers.

Claude Jibidar

Mr. Claude Jibidar arrived in DR Congo in July 2016, appointed as Representative and Country Director, where he had previously served in different capacity from 1999 to 2002 and from 2006 to 2008.  Mr. Jibidar brings more than 25 years of non-profit and corporate leadership experience focusing on food security, nutrition and emergency response strategies. Mr. Jibidar guides a team of about 500 staff members in the Country Office and across 8 Area and field Offices aiming at meeting the immediate food needs of vulnerable Congolese. He had served previously, three years in the same capacity in Kabul Afghanistan, leading a team of more than 550 staff across 6 field offices.   

Benjamin Anguandia

Benjamin Anguandia works for the World Food Programme in the DRC. He has lived in the DRC for all of his life excluding 5 years that he spent in Kenya as a young boy. He studied in the DRC majoring in biochemistry in high school and communications at university. He has experience living and working in insecure environments in the DRC and uses his knowledge in areas such as health and food security to help communities.

Tara Nathan

Tara Nathan is Executive Vice President for the Humanitarian & Development sector at Mastercard. In this role, she leads the company’s strategy to develop and scale products & solutions for the Base of the Pyramid. The Humanitarian & Development team is dedicated to creating an ecosystem that streamlines access to education, health, commerce, and other vital services for the most vulnerable communities. Tara’s team is focused on driving commercially sustainable social impact. Before Mastercard, she worked at Mobile Payment Solutions as the chief executive officer leading the innovation and commercial development of the Mastercard Mobile Payments Gateway a platform designed to facilitate mobile payments for consumers around the world. Before joining Mastercard, Ms. Nathan worked in various managerial positions at Citigroup’s retail banking business and was a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service working in Taiwan, Japan and China. She earned a BSFS from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Claude Jibidar: 00:05 If people in the DRC cannot plant because they are driven away from the field that don’t have what they need to feed themselves every day.

Rosette: 00:19 (Native Language) When there is war, everything is destroyed. No school for the children and no food.

Claude Jibidar: 00:27 Surviving sometimes means being on the side of those who hold the guns.

Zachary: 00:36 (Native Language) Life was very difficult to surviving, getting food and that’s when I ended up joining an armed group.

Claude Jibidar: 00:44 If an end is brought to the conflict, I’ll be ready to go back to DRC in a few years’ time. Not to be distributing food, but to be buying food from the DRC.

Claudia Edelman: 01:05 This is the Global GoalsCast, the podcast that shows how we can change the world

Edie Lush: 01:11 In this episode – famine and how to end it. 100 million women, men and children are going to bed tonight dangerously underfed, but the solution isn’t just delivering food, it’s making peace.

Claudia Edelman: 01:25 This podcast is all about making progress and celebrating champions, but we also shine a light on issues that might either derail the progress or on connections that are harder to see. In a moment, we will hear about the connection between conflict and extreme hunger and the new approach by humanitarian agencies.

Edie Lush: 01:46 But first, this word about our sponsors.

Michelle: 01:51 This episode is sponsored by Mastercard. Stay with us later for an interview with Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President of humanitarian development at Mastercard, who will tell us about the digital aid network Mastercard is helping to build and our thanks to CBS New Digital and to Harmon, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Edie Lush: 02:18 Welcome back to the Global GoalsCast. I am Edie Lush.

Claudia Edelman: 02:21 And I am Claudia Romo Edelman. Edie, we talk a lot about how sustainable development goals are connected and interconnected. How one goal, say, educating girls helps achieve other goals like ending extreme poverty.

Edie Lush: 02:38 Exactamente, Claudia, and in this episode we’re going to explore a vivid and brutal example of this connection. Goal number two is “Zero Hunger” by 2030. Goal 16 calls for “Peace and Strong Institutions”. What humanitarian agencies say is that we will never achieve zero hunger without major strides towards resolving conflicts.

Claudia Edelman: 03:01 Let us share some basic facts. The World Food Program says that about 113 million people are suffering acute hunger in 53 countries. These are people at risk of starvation in places like Yemen, Afghanistan and parts of Africa.

Edie Lush: 03:20 The problem in the majority of these severe situations is not a lack of food, it’s war and conflict that prevents the growing of food or it’s delivery

Claudia Edelman: 03:29 Or both.

Edie Lush: 03:30 Right? Exactly. So the lasting solution isn’t dropping burlap bags of food from cargo planes. It’s healing the conflicts.

Claudia Edelman: 03:37 Correct. And the World Food Program says that one of the most severe examples of this challenge is the Democratic Republic of Congo, the second largest country in Africa, which is what you explore with them. And the Democratic Republic of Congo, Edie, as you know, holds a very special place in my heart. It was the first ever campaign I launched

Edie Lush: 04:01 And we are going to talk about that at the end of the show. So you, the dear listener, have to hang on for that. So the World Food Program says 13 million people suffer acute hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo and millions more are at risk. The country has been torn apart by violence and millions of people have been displaced from their land. So in this very fertile country, they can’t grow enough food for themselves and it is often very hard to get food to them. To understand the situation, I spoke with three people in the DRC. The first was Claude Jibidar who directs the efforts of the World Food Program in the DRC. And to help tell the story, he introduced me to two local colleagues. One is Rosette Kasereka, a farmer who had been driven from her land. And the other is a young man we call Zachary, a former child soldier. We’ll hear more from them through a World Food Programme translator. I’ll tell you more about him later.

Claudia Edelman: 05:00 Claude Jibidar has been with the World Food Program for 25 years. As a fact, World Food Programme, WFP, Edie, what do you say? We actually start a lexicon in this podcast and we started introducing jargons and abbreviations that people should know about. So Claude has been with the World Food Programme, WFP, for 25 years.

Edie Lush: 05:22 Okay. I will allow that jargon.

Claudia Edelman: 05:23 He worked in the DRC in his younger days and then return in 2016 after a tour in Afghanistan as conditions in the DRC were worsening.

Claude Jibidar: 05:36 The DRC is part of my daily concerns, worries. It’s what keeps me awake at night because DRC is one of those countries. Where everything should be in place for people to have more than enough to eat.

Rosette: 06:00 (Native language) The farming, we do is in a very difficult context because since 1994, the war has been um, making access difficult to our farms.

Claude Jibidar: 06:13 If people in the DRC cannot plant because they are uprooted because they are driven away from the field they don’t have what they need to feed themselves every day, they don’t have what it needs to take a sick child to health center or take a child to school. That’s the bottom line. If people don’t cultivate in DRC they don’t eat. The one important factor, if I was to pin only one in the DRC, I would say conflict. And what it means is that a family, a woman, her children, the husband in the middle of the night anytime suddenly they have to run and that run and leave everything behind.

Rosette: 07:08 (Native language) It was one of the groups called, CNDP that attacked the regular army. It was heated up badly that the army had to flee. And in that period there were many people that lost their lives. And in that period we had to run away. We had to flee from that (native language) and at that time we fled with my four children and with my husband and uh, my mother.

Claude Jibidar: 07:42 So Rosette is one of those extraordinary women in the DRC. You cannot imagine what they go through.

Rosette: 07:55 (Native language) And so when you talk about when there’s war, everything is destroyed. No school for the children and no food. We all slept, at one little room and food was very difficult to find.

Edie Lush: 08:12 It would be simple, or perhaps I should say, simplistic to think of all of this as good farmers who driven from their land by evil soldiers. Claude explained to me that often is not the soldiers themselves were caught up in the cycle of hunger and conflict. The perpetrators are victims, too.

Claude Jibidar: 08:30 In many instances you are talking of a handful of young guys from a village trying to survive. And what do they do to survive? They try to have access to resources either by taking it from whoever may provide them something: a bag of maize, a cow, a goat from the villages simply because those young people are armed. In other circumstances, maybe much better organized groups, some of them manipulated, some of them even set up to access and control resources and they get something out of it…so it’s all about survival.

Zachary: 09:21 (Native language) I had to stop school suddenly because of the conflict of war that had just started. My parents were being disturbed when they were going to farm and that led to me stopping school.

Edie Lush: 09:41 We call him Zachary. The World Food Program asked us to withhold his real name to protect him from reprisals by the armed group that he used to run with. He was 13 when he joined the militia.

Zachary: 09:56 (Native language) Life was very difficult surviving, getting food and I started having ideas and that’s when I ended up joining an armed the group.

Claude Jibidar: 10:08 You realize that uh, they did go through some terrible times. These were people who are trying to survive

Zachary: 10:19 (Native language) Once I joined the armed group, life was even more difficult than I had thought before, because it was very, very, very difficult to eat and once we would fight every time and not eat anything. And when you left as a group to go out somewhere to fight, you’d leave with a number of ten, and you come back three people and there was even no medicine – we just lived like that.

Claude Jibidar: 10:53 Surviving sometimes means being on the side of those who hold the guns rather than being the victims of those people. Survival is also about, you know, making sure that you can have access to those resources yourself.

Zachary: 11:09 (Native language) Our food we used to get it from the farmers, we would go in people’s farm and take things. We would do looting most of the times and I would stop cars on the road, take what we want, also some money. (Native language) Yeah that’s how we got our food.

Claude Jibidar: 11:30 And that goes on until a time when somebody can come and give you alternatives, give you options. And Zachary, like many others– they had this opportunity to be given options. And um, through those options, you know, change the way they were looking at the future. These are people, if you talk to them, you’ll see that what they want is they want education, they want security, they want to grow up and have their own families care for their own families. I mean things that are as simple you and I, we, we enjoy every day just a bit of peace.

Claude Jibidar: 12:17 There is more than enough to feed everybody. I don’t think that is the point. The point is about a number of people in a number of specific countries and contexts, face challenges that are beyond what they can manage themselves. And that is where I believe, you know, agencies like the World Food Program and all the others really have to come together.

Claudia Edelman: 12:54 In 2016 the world’s humanitarian organizations came together at a very important meeting in Istanbul. I happened to be there and they agreed on this new approach of not just delivering food, but also solving the problems that caused hunger in the first place. Istanbul was massive, a crucial meeting of the minds where leaders agreed for the first time to work on prevention and also work on issues at the same time. Everything is interconnected.

Edie Lush: 13:27 There’s a new phrase for this thinking humanitarian agencies should move from delivering aid to ending need, and I asked Claude about that. So it sounds like peacemaking is the ultimate skill you need to make sure that people can just eat. How do you address that? Do you and your colleagues have the skills you need? Do you fund people who do, how does it work?

Claude Jibidar: 13:52 We call on everybody. We call on people like you. I call on first and foremost on the government to play its role to ensure that its people can have some stability. We try from our own side to stabilize communities. Let me give you an example. One of the conflicts currently hitting that Tanganyika province of the DRC is a conflict between what we call the Tua, which are the peak big community against the Bamtu community. These two communities have been at war fighting each other, killing each other, creating displacement. So what we, WFP, have tried to do jointly with FAO, with other NGO partners like “Search for Common Ground” is to bring these people together and have them work side by side, have them see what advantages they can obtain from this collaboration, what it brings them as opposed to, you know, the conflict that they were pursuing.

Claude Jibidar: 15:19 And if you go to a place called Caballo, you have today through a resilience project being implemented by the World Food Program, FAO, and “Search for Common Ground”, with the support of a number of donors, you have these communities working side by side, they reap the benefit of pooling their resources, their capacities together. This is something that I wish I could scale up and multiplied by 100 because you know what hunger drinks about conflict and conflict generates hunger so it’s a vicious circle. It has to be broken.

Claudia Edelman: 15:59 The scale of the challenge is quite large. With families living in terrible conditions and unable to farm or feed themselves.

Claude Jibidar: 16:09 The new numbers was more than 4.5 million people displaced internally. Being internally displaced in Kasai meant that people had left their homes and for a year, for some of them, people have been surviving in the bush, and when I say surviving in the bush, it means feeding off whatever you could find in the Bush sleeping, wherever you could sleep.

Edie Lush: 16:40 We rejoin rosette that after she and her family returned home, unlike so many who lose children to hunger or illness – or even snakebites – while displaced from their homes, she has all of her family intact.

Rosette: 16:56 (Native language) When we got back, it was very difficult depending on assistance. Everybody was trying to farm in their own different ways. Seeds were difficult to find before that. Until when WFP, the World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization came in to support us with the trainings on how to farm and, uh, increase our produce and also provided us seeds and tools.

Edie Lush: 17:29 And so now what are you growing Rosette?

Rosette: 17:34 (Native language) We farm maize, beans, cabbages, eggplants. (Native language) I am able to plant for selling and also eating some in the family and also I’m managing to, to have some money selling my products to pay for basic services and most importantly, uh, the children’s school fees.

Claude Jibidar: 18:05 WFP, FAO helps them, provide them with a bit of food, provide them with a bit of seeds, a few tools and two months after you see Rosette and you see other women chanting, dancing because they have had their first harvest. And that’s one of the stories. But it is the story of I would say all the women that we are meeting in the DRC and that’s why for us it is so important to be behind these people, to support them, to listen to what they want, what they need and do our utmost to be able to bring them because what we are bringing is very little and what they’re fighting, what they’re struggling is so much more, so much more than what we can bring them. That’s why I think the story, the history of the DRC, you know, if this country becomes what it is meant to be, I think it will be thanks to the women of the DRC.

Claudia Edelman: 19:12 As she was rebuilding her own life, Rosette was able to take on a leadership role in a farmer’s group that is part of their resilience building encouraged by the World Food Program. It is called purchase for progress and it helps farmers build their markets and income.

Rosette: 19:32 (Native language) I’m the president of the 11 farmer’s organization. It is very important as the project came because here in our area it’s very difficult for women to be in positions to make decisions. It was always the manner that makes the decision even in the homes, but now I’m part of the team. I am now making, able to make, decision and it makes me very happy. Through this project I have also learnt personally that uh, farming is a, is a very good business. It’s a business because it has enabled me to learn the value of what I produce. I know that food is very important and there is a portion I can keep, I can store for eating and a portion I can sell and it has increased my income in my house. Here, there’s a common saying that says union is power. And through this project, purchase for progress, we have become one. It has brought us together in this conflict situation that we lived before. If I’m in a difficult situation, I know I can go to another person within the group because now we know each other better. I found where I belong. I know that with farming I plan my life better. I know what I produce, my income is and that’s how I live. (Native language)

Claudia Edelman: 21:12 When we come back, we will hear why Zachary decided to lay down his guns and give up being a child soldier. At first, another cool woman from mastercard, Tara Nathan, executive vice president in charge of humanitarian development. Claudi. We met her in Davos, remember indeed, and I spoke to her about the digital aid network. Mastercard is helping to build.

Tara Nathan: 21:37 We see that while philanthropy has a critical role to play, we believe that our technology and our capabilities and leveraging our knowledge of not just digital technologies but of building payments, ecosystems can really have transformational impact. Specific examples, we partnered with a number of different NGOs, the likes of Mercy Corps and Save the Children, World Vision, et cetera, to build something called the Mastercard Aid Network.

Tara Nathan: 22:08 What the Mastercard Aid Network was, was a digital wallet that enabled a beneficiary who was sitting in a remote place, whether in Yemen, in a disconnected environment with no mobile phone coverage, with no power, no electricity, the ability to receive digitally their food and their humanitarians benefits. What this does is because they’re receiving it digitally, it gives that beneficiary the ability to redeem at a local marketplace just like you or I would. It enables them to redeem their benefits for fresh fruits and fresh vegetables and to actually make healthy choices for their families. The other side of that really is what it does for the organizations that service and that serve these beneficiaries, like the NGOs who we partner with.

Tara Nathan: 23:00 And that is it gives them a more cost effective way, a more auditable, a more transparent way to provide these benefits. We look at our digital infrastructure as sort of digital roads that that give access to a number of different services and we have another solution that we are deploying currently across Uganda and Kenya and in India as well, which is giving, for example, smallholder farmers access to Agri buyers. So a small holder farmer typically in a rural environment would be limited as to where they could sell their goods. So their household income will be limited by who comes to their, literally who comes to their farm gate and purchases what their wares are.

Tara Nathan: 23:46 By digitally enabling these smallholder farmers, we give them access to large scale Agri buyers who can now pay much more for their produce or for their beans or for their crops. And eliminate some of the middle men who sit and extract rents in these value chains. We now either eliminate some of that and or create transparency.

Claudia Edelman: 24:10 More from Mastercard and Tara Nathan later. Now let’s return to our conversation about how conflict and famine are tied together. And no one illustrates that better than Zachary who talks about the terror of being a child soldier.

Zachary: 24:32 (Native language) I decided to leave during one mission whereby we, we went to fight and uh, we went 15 and came back seven people. Three of my friends got killed that day and I thought to myself, why should I continue living like this? And uh, if there’s no other life than this, that was when I decided to go and leave the group.

Edie Lush: 25:02 He would have been killed if he’d asked to leave. He fled in the night, made it home, but then had to go into hiding from the very militias that he’d run away from

Claudia Edelman: 25:12 And here is where the coordinated humanitarian efforts to end need gave Zachary a new start. He joined the training program run by a local NGO, focused on rehabilitating former child soldiers. The WFP made sure he was fed while he was learning how to start a new business.

Rosette: 25:37 (Native language) I got registered for the program and they took us to a place where they would train us and they ask us what we wanted to learn. As me, I was passionate about computer science and uh, that’s what I chose to be trained in. (Native language) The place where the educational center was located, was a two hours of walk from where I lived, from my village, my home. I had to wake up very early in the morning around five o’clock to be there at eight o’clock. It was very difficult in the beginning. I was motivated and encouraged through the food that uh World Food Programme was giving out to the former ex soldiers participating, taking part in that training that motivated me, encouraged me to continue and finish the training.

Edie Lush: 26:36 After the training and with the ‘exit kit’- that’s a computer and a printer provided by the program, he was able to open his own business providing printing, scanning, word processing and more.

Zachary: 26:50 (Native language) I opened the place and I make some money out of it. (Native language) With a place I’ve opened I’m also providing training, showing some youth that are interested in computers and computer sciences. And also through that I’ve been able to sensitize former armed group people that were still in there. I talked to them and sensitized them out of it to get out.

Claudia Edelman: 27:21 He also used his experience to discourage other young people thinking of joining an armed group. He had succeeded with seven people who were about to join the militia.

Zachary: 27:34 (Native language) I see myself as a peacemaker and the more knowledge I get, the more I’ll have the ability to help out as many people as possible. (Native language) I dream of a place where we are able to do live free of children going into armed groups like the way I did.

Claudia Edelman: 28:03 Don’t just deliver aid, end the need. We can really see that in the stories of Rosette and Zachary. She has learned to manage and grow an agribusiness and he’s a budding tech entrepreneur.

Edie Lush: 28:15 And a big part of his business Claudia is actually helping people download movies and music. He’s like a kind of one man Netflix, but that’s to say nothing of his new found role working to keep young men and women like him out of the armed militias. I was really moved by my conversation with Zachary and also Claude Jibidar. He and the other humanitarian leaders know what needs to be done in the DRC. If peace and stability can be created, the experts say the DRC has the abundance to produce enough food to feed everyone in Africa, with food left over.

Claude Jibidar: 28:53 I always say as a joke that in the DRC, when you take your tomato, you wash your tomato, you throw the water. You come a month after you have a tomato plant, but it is true. It’s not a joke. I recall back in the 90s we tried to rehabilitate some rail tracks that had not been used for nine months. There were trees, trees had grown in the middle of the tracks. I mean that’s what DRC is about. The potential is there. Everything grows and grows very fast. If an end is brought to the conflict, I would be ready to go back to DRC in a few years’ time. Not to be distributing food, but to be buying food from the DRC and taking that food in a number of other places where they’re hit by drought and by, you know, like Mozambique at the moment with, you know, these floodings because the DRC can feed huge numbers of people. FAO Talks of 2 billion people. This country hosting currently 90 million people, of which at least 20 millions are food insecure. That country could produce enough to feed 2 billion.

Edie Lush: 30:19 Claudia, I don’t know if you’re aware, but we had some behind the scenes drama making this episode. As you can see, conflict is a daily issue in life in the DRC, so it turned out to be a daily issue in recording. Benjamin Anguandia, who was the WFP staff person who also was a translator, was supposed to go interview Rosette and Zachary with me on the other end of the phone and I got a message from his office saying he’s had to turn around because there’s armed militias on the road between his office and where Zachary and Rosette live, so the exact same issues that affect those folks in our episode affected our podcast.

Claudia Edelman: 31:02 I started by telling you Edie when I was working for the UN refugee agency in 2008 no one, I mean no one spoke about the DRC. The focus was in Darfur and in other areas of Africa and the world. But I went out and started measuring and checking media space given to the DRC, how much media was covering it and literally was nothing, was one of the countries that had very little funding and there were 5,000 people killed every day and the number of child soldiers that were in DRC wars, were humongous. So it was almost like the bloodiest place in the world that no one saw. I went out and started knocking doors of different people to try to get some attention to the DRC. So the first door I knocked was Universal Studios. I said, I need you guys to come to the DRC and film something so that we can bring this issue to the table.

Claudia Edelman: 32:00 You can only imagine their faces. When I said that, and they were like, what’s the DRC? But beyond that they committed to actually doing that. And we went afterwards to try to get a soundtrack so that we could do something. So the Rolling Stones donated “Gimme Shelter” and then we went out to Ben Affleck to see whether he could actually direct this video to try to incentivize people to give shelter, to actually understand the DRC was a tragedy that needed to be seen and needed to be corrected. Knowing how much potential DRC had. You can only imagine the amount of times that we tried to take off with the little planes full of equipment trying to land in the DRC was not possible. So I thank everybody for having made that effort and it brought the DRC from the invisible to the visible to some degree.

Edie Lush: 32:49 What did you learn from that?

Claudia Edelman: 32:51 DRC is a place that illustrates that you have to work together on so many fronts at the same time and you know like it’s not that you can work towards education and forget about gender and you have to work on everything at the same time and it’s such a potential land. People understanding leaders, understanding that in order to really accomplish ambitious goals, you have to work on many things at the same time and pretty much work on prevention, but Edie, pretty much what the sustainable development goals or SDGs are. There we go, lexicon number five,

Edie Lush: 33:27 Another bit of jargon.

Claudia Edelman: 33:27 There we go.

Edie Lush: 33:28 Can I, before we move on, I just want to say the next time you go to knock on the door of Ben Affleck and the Rolling Stones I could come to, I can also knock on doors.

Claudia Edelman: 33:38 But Edie, these stories, the stories that we’re telling today, they illustrate hope and how champions are really making a difference and how it is possible to get to that path. Particularly now that we have by far more understanding and a framework of action.

Edie Lush: 33:55 And I think that those stories that we told today, the stories of Zachary and Rosette, they are the champions just as much as Claude is. Those are the folks who are helping to rebuild their country even as it’s still under so much threat.

Claudia Edelman: 34:10 Edie, not to brag, but on Saturday I was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of honor. I hope that you saw that and there were like 100 people that were honored and the one that really got the attention of everybody, because there were only a few people speaking, was David Beasley. He’s like the executive director of the World Food Program. And when he was talking I could just see that people got it, but also had hope and they believed on it and actually they could understand it and see because food is something that is concrete and tangible and gets people together. David was also very good in praising the US for stepping up and while in many other areas, you know, like there’s, there’s some questions about whether the US is following, you know, global affairs here. He reassured that this country was actually stepping up and stepping forward. So that was a massive event.

Edie Lush: 35:04 And I would like to praise you for stepping up in such an amazing dress. Not that it’s all about the dress.

Claudia Edelman: 35:11 And the dress is a beautiful bridge to the facts because it’s not only looking great but also looking smart. So here are the three facts for today.

Edie Lush: 35:21 So fact number one, issues of food and nutrition are not only related to agriculture or trade. Conflict plays a huge role and as a fact, conflict is the most serious cause of acute hunger affecting 75 million people and getting worse.

Claudia Edelman: 35:37 Fact number two, one third of the world’s food is wasted and one person in 10 around the world is under nourished.

Edie Lush: 35:45 Fact number three, 29 million people face acute hunger because of climate change. Most of these people are in Africa but also in Pakistan and Haiti. This is likely to increase and spread in the years to come. And in several countries including the DRC conflict and climate change are reinforcing each other. You can learn more at our website, the links to the latest reports on hunger are there to learn more. You owe to yourself and the future. As Claude Jibidar explained,

Claude Jibidar: 36:18 Maybe think the worLd differently, whatever big the world is whatever happens somewhere will affect all of us. If other people are suffering, there will reach out to where they can have safety, where they can have wealth, where they can survive. So let’s help each other because otherwise we will all be the same problem at some point.

Edie Lush: 36:49 Okay, Claudia, we’ve also got some actions. Action number one, Claudia, take out your phone and if you haven’t already, download, Share the Meal, the World Food Programme, oop, the WFPs app. It lets you pick where you want your help to go. So swipe, till you find the one you want to click on and then you can feel good. I did this yesterday and I was tidying up the script and I chose the DRC because the money I give goes directly to the school feeding programs like the one Rosette sells her crops too.

Claudia Edelman: 37:20 So I’m going to correspond to your action with another phone action. Edie, take out your phone, now, download Olio. You got it?

Edie Lush: 37:31 I got it. I did it.

Claudia Edelman: 37:32 There you go. So snap a picture of something you don’t want in your fridge or cupboard and within a day someone in your neighborhood will come and pick it up. How smart is that? Combat food waste and eliminate hunger locally. That’s awesome. Edie did this all last weekend, didn’t you?

Edie Lush: 37:52 I did and I even got rid of my cranberry sauce that I thought no one but Americans would want and why would they want it in London in May and somebody did. That’s what’s amazing.

Claudia Edelman: 38:03 Download Olio guys.

Edie Lush: 38:05 Action number three, support partners of Global GoalsCast- Slow Food, check out their food for change campaign, which explains how our food choices have a direct impact on the future of the planet.

Claudia Edelman: 38:17 And also support Gastromotiva from our friends in Brazil that feed people in underprivileged areas, reduce food waste by cooking it and also empower youth to be more aware and more conscious about their food.

Edie Lush: 38:34 And here’s the Global GoalsCast lexicon.

Claudia Edelman: 38:40 WFP- World Food Programme

Edie Lush: 38:41 DRC- Democratic Republic of Congo

Claudia Edelman: 38:44 SDGs- sustainable development goals

Edie Lush: 38:49 and NGOs. I don’t even know what they are!

Claudia Edelman: 38:50 Ah you got it! Non-governmental organisations

Edie Lush: 38:50 Non-governmental organisations.

Edie Lush: 38:58 Now Let’s hear more from Tara Nathan, executive vice president at Mastercard. Earlier, she introduced us to the way Mastercard is helping people in remote locations to receive aid digitally and how that in turn is promoting better nutrition. Is all of this being done via the mobile phone?

Tara Nathan: 39:18 We find that in a majority of the context where people living at the base in marginalized communities exist, frankly, have no connectivity or have very intermittent connectivity. And so when those types of contexts, what we’re really trying to figure out, and we’re doing a lot of innovation around is how we can create offline solutions. So offline solutions that are facilitated via what looks like a regular Mastercard that you carry around in your wallet. But now what we do is we leverage that chip card to serve, if you will, as an entry level mobile phone almost because it can store data, it can store biometric capabilities. Wouldn’t it be great if someone can show up at a point of interface at a point of sale and just via their biometrics just via who they are, capture their face and receive the goods and services to which they are entitled.

Edie Lush: 40:12 So what do you think the biggest challenges are with the programs that you get involved with that aim to serve marginalized individuals and communities?

Tara Nathan: 40:25 I think the biggest challenge that we face, frankly, is that the various actors across the humanitarian and development sectors still fail to act in concert. So what does that mean? We have very siloed approaches, both from a solution perspective, from a technology perspective, from a go to market perspective. And what that results in is, high cost for donors, it results in unprofitability for the private sector. It results in substandard solutions for the beneficiaries we seek to serve. So that is the main gap. We’ve made an effort to this end in conjunction with about 35 other partners we launched in Davos actually two years ago. The Smart Communities Coalition and the Smart Communities Coalition is really aimed at doing that. Smart Communities Coalition really aims to say, how do we create the digital roads, the power roads, the connectivity roads that create the infrastructure that can provide those longterm solutions. I think these are the types of ecosystem or joint approaches that are really going to be critical if we are going to solve, you know, what has been repeatedly called out is the several trillion dollar funding gap to achieve the the sustainable development goals.

Edie Lush: 41:56 That was Tara Nathan from Mastercard.

Claudia Edelman: 41:59 And that was a wrap. That’s it for this episode of Global GoalsCast. Thank you so much to all our guests. You can find out more on our website, Please like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and follow us on social media at Global GoalsCasts. Goodbye, Edie Lush.

Edie Lush: 42:18 Goodbye, Claudia

Claudia Edelman: 42:23 Bye!

Michelle: 42:23 Music in this episode was by Neil Hale, Andrew Phillips, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crone and Aasgeesg Paliwal. Thanks to our translator, Benjamin Aguandia. This episode was made possible with the support of Mastercard, CBS News Digital, and Harmon, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.