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Photo by Ling Tang on Unsplash

This week in his speech at Davos, President Xi called for renewed international cooperation and multilateralism, but stood firm on his views that countries should be left to determine their own “internal affairs”. He argued that every country has its own history, culture and system and that none should be considered superior to any other.

While these proclamations were largely designed to stem criticisms of China’s actions over Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Xinjiang — most recently debated in the UK via the Genocide Amendment to the Trade Bill — they also raise the questions about how…


Hope, optimism and new skills by book

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Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

Hi there! Here we are again. In the midst of a nationwide lockdown. This time, however, it may all feel a little more difficult. We have a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a vaccine, but the long nights and cold days make that one outdoor exercise a day just that little bit less appealing.

So it’s no surprise that I — and many more of us — will be spending time wrapped up indoors. …


The impact of sustainability on style

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Photo by Karina Tess on Unsplash

Every industry has been touched by sustainability. Driven by consumer demand and the environmental imperative, the fashion industry is no exception.

But it is a terms that has become so ubiquitous as almost to be utterly meaningless. As Stella McCartney, quoted in the FT, put it : “I barely even know what the word ‘sustainable’ means any more.”

The drive towards sustainability in the fashion industry further obscures the irony at the heart of the movement. As an industry that survives on constant and continual consumption, can it really be sustainable? Can it adapt to a truly sustainable future? …


Reflections on life in Covent Garden during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Photo by Tiziano Brignoli on Unsplash

From the depths of great despair in history have come moments of great change and progress. Out of the shadows of WWI emerged women’s suffrage. From the devastation of WWII the shining legacy of our National Health Service.

The area of London smack in the middle of Westminster and the City, Covent Garden, has also arisen from years of neglect to renown, only to crumble and be reborn.

When the aristocrats moved out in the 18th century, the great houses were given new life by artists and writers. When the fruit and vegetable market moved out in the 1970s, local…


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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Last week it emerged that the UK is off course to meeting its legally binding target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

In 2019, when the target was introduced, it was hailed as one of the most ambitious in the world. The UK had become the first major economy to introduce such a target into law. However, since then the government has failed to deliver the scale of investment needed to meet the ambition. …


How to prepare for your next trip

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Photo by Atoms on Unsplash

One of the most visible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the almost complete halt to human mobility. International travel reached its low point in April 2020, with global passenger numbers down 55% from 2019. Many countries also closed their public transport networks and restricted internal travel.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 130 countries have introduced some form of travel restriction, affecting around 90% of the world’s population. Travellers have been required to submit to temperature scans in airports, provide contact details, undergo symptom screening and in many places quarantine at home or in government sanctioned…


More uncertainty in the UK Government’s COVID response

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Photo by 贝莉儿 DANIST on Unsplash

From July 10 travellers into England from countries including France, Germany and Italy no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days. The Department of Transport has released a list of 59 countries to which this applies.

There are notable absences from this list — the US, Greece and Portugal to name a few.

But while this list is a response to mounting calls from holidaymakers and the travel industry, it has been met with wide spread criticism.

How COVID affected the travel industry

The travel industry is an important global industry. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), it accounts for 10% of global…


And why what’s happening in Hungary matters to us all

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Photo by Kate Kasiutich on Unsplash

Last month, former UK Lord Justice, Lord Sumption, warned about measures introduced to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. He railed against the “extreme and indiscriminate measures” governments have adopted, with public support, as an “interference with our lives and our personal autonomy that is intolerable in a free society.” His warning was designed to encourage us to be vigilant against measures that could ultimately undermine the very foundations of democracy.

Though received by some as alarmist, Lord Sumption’s warnings have practical relevance. Around the world, governments have introduced emergency measures such as lockdown and travel bans, which for the purpose of…


From climate change to well-being…

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Photo by ben o'bro on Unsplash

The debate on whether, and how, the world will have changed when we emerge from the current COVID-19 crisis is raging.

Will we return to normal? And is that even desirable?

Will people eschew the commute, fast fashion and cheap holidays? Or will we simply forget and return to ‘business as usual’?

Will people re-embrace large gatherings? Or will we be weary of contact with anyone outside our immediate households?

Historically crises, and particularly pandemics, have caused society to change irrevocably — break from the past and imagine anew. It is said that Isaac Newton did his most prolific work…


For a bit of escapism…

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Photo by Fabiola Peñalba on Unsplash

We’re all facing the prospect of weeks, possibly months, at home, wondering what on earth we are going to keep ourselves busy with.

If you’ve already exhausted the recommendations on Netflix and Amazon Prime, picking up a book is a great way to transport yourself out this world to another.

I’m an avid reader and always have something on the go, so here’s what’s on my quarantine reading list — from new books I’ve been meaning to get to and old favourites that remind us just how lucky we are right now.

Jessica Toale

Londoner. Traveller. Writer. Twitter: @jessicatoale Instagram: @jessica.toale

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