The world population is estimated to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. Given that most of our current energy is generated from fossil fuels, this creates significant challenges when it comes to providing enough sustainable electricity while mitigating climate change.
One idea that has gained traction over recent years is generating electricity using bacteria in devices called microbial fuel cells (MFCs). These fuel cells rely on the ability of certain naturally occurring microorganisms that have the ability to “breathe” metals, exchanging electrons to create electricity.
Wherever we look, we see the triple crisis facing the world – the combined threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. They bring increasing degradation, and a growing scarcity of the things that really matter – of land, forests, and water. The risks are significant for us all, but I know they are especially acute in Africa. A clear and present danger to livelihoods and food security. They compound the existing challenges, like moving out of poverty, food safety for growing populations, and creating jobs for young people. The urgency cannot be denied. We need to address these multiple challenges together, with policies that work for people, and safeguard their future on the planet. I firmly believe the answers lie in a fundamental economic transition. We need a different system. A system that moves beyond that old style of thinking, where we extract, produce, consume and then throw things away, with devastating consequences for the planet.
Income accrued by small-scale fishers in Africa has reduced by up to 40% over the last decade. This is because less fish are available. It’s a huge food security challenge in places where fish are the only source of protein.
The reduced catch is also associated with rises in unemployment. In Senegal, for example, many blame fisheries agreements with the EU for destroying their livelihoods. This in turn pushes scores of young people to make the difficult and illegal journey to Europe.