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Do we want to live without plastic?
Plastic is the dominant material of modern life, used in everything from furniture to cars to packaging to medical equipment. In most parts of the world it’s hard to live a single day without coming into contact with plastic. But as its use has exploded over the past century, so have the problems associated with it. Plastic pollution has created huge islands of waste in our oceans; microplastics have been found in freshly fallen Antarctic snow, and even in human blood. This week delegates from nearly 200 countries have been in Paris for UN-sponsored talks aimed at developing a landmark treaty to end plastic pollution. But how could such a treaty work? What could other solutions to the scourge of plastic pollution - or 'stupid plastic' - look like? And does the world really want to live without plastic?
Joining Shaun Ley are panellists -
David Azoulay, environmental lawyer and a director at the Centre for International Environmental Law based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Sherri Mason, Director of Sustainability and Professor of Chemistry at Penn State University, Lake Erie campus.
Shahriar Hossain from the Environment and Social Development Organisation based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Also featuring -
Ambassador Ilana Seid who represents the Pacific nation of Palau at the United Nations, and chairs the Pacific Small Islands Developing States Group.
Joshua Baca is Vice President of Plastics at the American Chemistry Council.
Produced by -
Imogen Wallace and Rumella Dasgupta
(Photo: Plastic bag drifting in the Botnia Gulf,Finland; Credit: Olivier Morin/AFP)
Bola Tinubu: Can Nigeria’s new president unite his country?
The winner of Nigeria’s presidential election, Bola Tinubu is due to be inaugurated on 29 May but the opposition are challenging the results.
Only 27 percent of voters participated in the election, the lowest turnout in the country’s history. And a recent BBC investigation has found evidence suggesting some results from the February election may have been manipulated.
As well as the contested election results, the incoming president faces huge challenges governing Nigeria: the country is struggling with high inflation and an array of security threats – jihadist insurgencies in the north east, kidnapping and banditry especially in the north west, herder-farmer violence, and separatist violence in the south-west. It has huge oil wealth, but its oil industry has a documented history of corruption.
President-elect Tinubu says he'll hit the ground running by cracking down on those trying to split the country.
But can this veteran politician who proclaimed "it's my turn" unite it?
Shaun Ley in conversation with:
Nnamdi Obasi - senior Nigeria adviser with the International Crisis Group.
Fidelis Mbah - a freelance journalist based in Abuja
Idayat Hassan - director of the Center for Democracy and Development, a Nigerian think tank.
Katch Ononuju - special adviser to the Nigerian Labour party 's Peter Obi.
Rinsola Abiola - an activist in the ruling All Progressives Congress Party, APC, and a supporter of Mr Tinubu.
Produced by Alba Morgade and Ellen Otzen
(Photo: Nigeria's President-elect Bola Tinubu sits at the International Centre waiting to receive his certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on March 1, 2023. Credit: Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Why can’t America contain the fentanyl crisis?
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, is now the main driver of drug overdose deaths in America. The US Drug Enforcement Administration says 67% of the 107,375 US deaths from drug overdoses or poisonings in 2021 were linked to fentanyl or similar opioids. US authorities blame Mexican drug gangs for supplying fentanyl to users across the US. Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says his country has proof that illegal shipments of the powerful opioid drug fentanyl are arriving from China; while China's foreign ministry has denied that there is illegal trafficking of fentanyl between China and Mexico. The US government is deploying law enforcement to crack down on fentanyl dealers and also taking steps to prevent and treat substance use and the harms it produces. But why is it still struggling to contain the fentanyl epidemic? Would stronger US cooperation with Chinese and Mexican authorities make a difference? What should President Joe Biden's administration do going forward to tackle the fentanyl crisis?
Shaun Ley is joined by:
Regina LaBelle, who served as acting director in the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the White House when Joe Biden became president in 2021. She now directs the Addiction and Public Policy Initiative at the O'Neill Institute at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC.
Vanda Felbab-Brown, Director of the Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington.
Uttam Dhillon served during Donald Trump’s presidency as acting head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA, from 2018 to 2020. He now works for law firm Michael Best and Friedrich and its consultancy, which provides advice on drug policy to clients including healthcare companies. Uttam is on the board or advises several companies involved in tackling the opioid crisis.
Dr Rahul Gupta, President Joe Biden's 'Drug Czar' as Director for the US Office of National Drug Control Policy
Gustavo Mohar, head of Mexico´s national security intelligence agency from 2007 to 2011
Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne
FILE PHOTO: Plastic bags of Fentanyl are displayed on a table at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Lott/File Photo
Produced by Ellen Otzen and Imogen Wallace
What's gone wrong in Haiti?
In recent weeks, vigilante groups in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince have beaten and burned to death gang members. The country has been plunged into increasing lawlessness following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Haiti has been led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry for almost two years, but he has failed to rein in the gang violence. One former US envoy to Haiti says the Biden administration has ‘betrayed’ Haitians by turning its back on the country and not pushing for democratic elections. Other have called for an intervention by foreign forces to tackle the gang violence. But is deploying international forces the answer? Should there be a Haitian-led solution? What needs to happen to prevent Haiti from complete collapse?
Shaun Ley is joined by:
Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean Correspondent for the Miami Herald
Robert Fatton, Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia
Pamela White, former US Ambassador to Haiti under President Obama
Dave Fils-Aimé, Founder & Executive Director of the nonprofit organisation Baskètbòl pou Ankadre Lajenès in Port-au-Prince
Daniel Foote, former US special envoy for Haiti from July 2021 - September 2021
Image: Police patrol the streets after gang members tried to attack a police station in Port-au-Prince on April 25, 2023. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol
Produced by Imogen Wallace and Ellen Otzen
The rehabilitation of Syria’s President Assad
This week a meeting of Arab foreign ministers - including Syria's - took place in Jordan's capital, Amman. Officials have been discussing Syria's potential return to the Arab League, after 12 years of civil war. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are dead, millions are refugees abroad, and a political settlement to the conflict remains elusive. But some of Syria’s neighbours are now keen to build closer relations with the Syrian regime.
A tentative normalisation of relations with President Assad has been years in the making. So what is driving it? What might a change in international relations mean for ordinary Syrians? And what does this diplomacy reveal about politics and power in the region?
Shaun Ley is joined by a panel of expert guests:
Rime Allaf - a Syrian-born writer and a former fellow at the Chatham House international affairs think tank in London. She is also a Board Member of the Syrian civil society organization The Day After
Steven Simon - served on the US National Security Council in the Obama administration as senior director for Middle Eastern Affairs from 2011 to 2012. He's now a Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East”
Ismaeel Naar - Arab Affairs Editor for The National, a newspaper owned by the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates who is also a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi.
Jawad Anani, an economist and Jordan's former foreign minister and deputy prime minister
Joel Rayburn, President Trump's special Envoy for Syria from 2018 to 2021
Photo: Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia meets Bashar al-Assad on April 18, 2023 in Damascus, Syria. (Credit: Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)