From this moment of crisis and flux comes the opportunity to craft a more sustainable future.

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Photo by Javier M. on Unsplash

The Dutch capital, with its reputation of being ruled by cyclists, is a city presumed to be fairly “green”.

But there is a decidedly grubbier reality. Environmental factors cause 5–6% of deaths per year in the Netherlands, amounting to some 15,000 due mainly to air and noise pollution from road traffic, air traffic and industry.

As of 2019, the Netherlands was ranked furthest from achieving EU renewable energy targets set for 2020. …


Lockdown is forcing retailers to acknowledge the digital age has dawned

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Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Inditex S.A. has reported its first quarterly loss since the firm went public in 2001, with sales dropping by 44%.

Lock-downs forced the leading global fashion retailer, which operates multiple chains including Bershka, Stradivarius and Massimo Dutti, to close some 6,000 of over 7,000 shops. This contributed significantly to a reported net loss of €409 million from February to April, compared to a net profit of €734 million during the same period last year.

The rapid drop-off in brick and mortar retail is unlikely to fully rebound to pre-covid levels, as the ‘new normal’ integrates ongoing social distancing regulations. …


A space where girls can upend stereotypes and find their voices

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HIIT Class at Project Fearless.

A father and son are in an accident; both get rushed to separate hospitals. When the boy is taken in for an operation, the surgeon says “I can’t do the surgery, this is my son.” How is this possible?

Needed to think twice before you realised the surgeon was the boy’s mother? You’re in depressingly good company. As harmless riddles go, this one’s a pretty poignant revealer of the unconscious sexist bias still lurking in many an informed mind.

But it’s just wordplay, we say. We can shrug it off with a sheepish shake of the head and make a…


“Politics, partisanship and populism” continue to scupper a sector determined to make its comeback

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Photo by Federico Giampieri on Unsplash

As many European countries prepare to re-open to international tourism from June 15, Spain is taking a markedly cautious approach. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has confirmed plans to welcome visitors only from July 1, following a pilot project reopening the Balearic Islands to German tourists from mid-June.

The country has been ravaged by the pandemic: some 27,136 confirmed deaths have occurred, combined with a harsh lockdown leading to a record 5.2 million Spaniards registering for unemployment benefits in April. …


Ethical footwear brand Flamingos’ Life is a fashionable force for good

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Green shoes, literally. Credit: Flamingos’ Life

Brought up in the family business of footwear, Carlos García Sánchez always knew his own venture would revolve around social and environmental responsibility. In 2015, he founded Flamingos’ Life, an ecologically and ethically conscious footwear brand.

Organic, pesticide-free cotton, recycled plastic waste, natural corn residue and sustainably sourced rubber are handcrafted into Flamingos’ trainers, with absolutely no animal products involved. As the brand has developed, it’s also committed to tackling specific environmental and social issues with each new collection it releases.

Take the Roland design, for example. Working in collaboration with the Brussels-based NGO Waste Free Oceans, local fishermen, recycling…


Mayor Halsema told broadcaster Op1 that numbers swelled so rapidly that only “heavy police intervention” could have effectively dissipated the crowd

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Photo by Shane Aldendorff on Unsplash

Thousands gathered in Amsterdam’s Dam Square on Monday to peacefully protest police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody on 25 May.

While the majority of protesters were wearing masks, crowds breached ongoing social distancing regulations as demonstrators came within 1.5 metres of each other. This prompted virologist and member of the government’s outbreak management team Menno de Jong to class the demonstration as a potential “super spreading event.”

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema has faced criticism for allowing the demonstration to go ahead unimpeded, amid fears it could have generated a hotspot…


Those that have lost their incomes and homes, as well as women facing increased domestic violence in lockdown, are among the groups particularly at risk at this time.

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Group discussions at Casa Migrante

Casa Migrante is a warm, welcoming hub for Spanish speakers in Amsterdam, connecting with migrants and Dutch locals alike. It’s a nexus of cultural integration that I’ve experienced myself: having moved over from London — as a native English speaker who’s fluent in Spanish — I made my first friends in Amsterdam within its walls.

In my time as a volunteer, the services I’ve helped provide range from safely storing personal belongings for clients who are homeless or have no fixed accommodation, to arranging Dutch and English courses for Spanish speakers looking to improve their cultural assimilation in the Netherlands…


Even for the jewels in the crown of England’s arts scene, no audiences means no income.

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Gem Ward: ‘Still Touch’

Across the world, galleries, theatres, museums and concert halls stand eerily empty, their audiences made to stay away for their own safety and their artists, like so many others, left out of a job.

The arts sector has been blindsided by coronavirus lockdown measures. As social distancing prevents audiences flocking to performances, world-famous venues are experiencing staggering losses in ticket sale revenue.

For smaller-scale arts companies and freelance creatives, whose personal and professional finances are far more tightly linked, the sudden loss of income has been a harsh reality to process.

In late March, Arts Council England (ACE) announced a…


Di Giovanni may be no revolutionary, but she has the opportunity to carve out a new model for female authority in the Vatican.

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Photo by Caleb Miller on Unsplash

Lawyer Dr Francesca Di Giovanni recently became the first female undersecretary in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, making her the first woman to hold such a senior position.

This appointment is the latest of Pope Francis’ efforts to bring more women into decision-making roles within the Vatican. But Di Giovanni has already worked in the self-same Section for Relations with States that she will now lead for almost three decades.

Despite the historic nature of the appointment, Di Giovanni is hardly likely to transform the papacy.

Pope Francis’ appointment will see Di Giovanni coordinate the Secretariat’s multilateral sector, overseeing Vatican…


Lives and livelihoods should take precedence over antagonistic political scheming.

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Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Non-essential Spanish workers are being allowed to return to their jobs. But while health experts have expressed support for a cautious relaxation of the economic shutdown initiated on 30 March, exiting total lockdown has inflamed tensions between Spain’s major political parties.

The high-octane debate appears less focussed on safeguarding either the economy or the population and more on tearing down Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government as it attempts to mitigate a harrowing crisis.

The potential economic impact of prolonging the freeze on Spain’s non-essential workforce is hugely concerning. The European Central Bank has already predicted that, as a result…

Abi Malins

Freelance journalist, content writer & translator, currently based in Amsterdam. Say hi at abimalins@gmail.com

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