Tag Archives: conflict

Q&A with MycoWorks Co-founder Sophia Wang | Instant News

Fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil and is responsible for 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions. Carbon intensive production animal hideout and Plastic for leather and synthetic clothing further exacerbates the impact of this industry, while waste from every stage of the fashion pipeline contributes to rampant air, water and soil pollution. As experts have known for years, the rise of fast fashion has enlarged the world’s resources and demonstrated the fragility of our current methods of production and consumption. If we want a future in which high-quality textiles play a role, we must act to change our habits on a system-wide scale.

When her artistic collaborator, Phil Ross, shared with her about the mycelium sculptures she has been working on for decades, artist Sophia Wang was amazed at the many possibilities in its natural pigments and textures. The mycelium consists of the root structure of the fungus and, like the edible part of the fungus, has a textural quality unlike that found in the animal or plant kingdom. Sophia had never seen anything like it and described Phil’s mycelium as “both stiff and foamy; compact and endlessly expressive.”

Cultivating mushrooms for consumption is an ancient industry that has a strong production and distribution infrastructure around the world. Mycelium’s abundance and biodegradability and carbon sequestration make it a clear choice for future sustainable goods. Companies like Eco-Friendly Design and Rhizoform LLC has spent decades developing mycelium as a packaging alternative for fragile fish and consumer goods and has even won support from Ikea and packaging giant SealedAir, but in fashion nothing has been tried on this scale yet.

Project with Sophia and Phil, MycoWorks, based on their proprietary process for mycelium cultivation called “Fine Mycelium ™”. This process uses the capacity of the fungus to bind itself and carbon-based materials to produce a durable three-dimensional structure. The first product they developed with Fine Mycelium was Reishi ™, the sustainable choice for skin that looks, feels and functions like an animal-derived version. Following their successful brand launch for Reishi in February 2020 at New York Fashion Week, MycoWorks plans to announce collaborations with some of the biggest names in the fashion world.

We sat down with Sophia Wang to discuss what makes MycoWorks a game changer for sustainable mode and what lies ahead.

China Environment Forum: What is unique about fashion as a means of presenting the delicate mycelium material?

Sophia Wang: Fashion is uniquely positioned to take the lead in new material adoption due to its global presence, impact and presence. There is a power made possible by creating high-value objects that are beautiful, aesthetically appealing, and long-lasting. A high-quality handbag or a beautiful piece of clothing becomes something intimate, that you live with, and that matters to you. When we started the company, it was an option to make things like structural panels, foam blocks, or protective packaging. But as far as introducing this new material and its extraordinary performative and expressive aesthetic qualities to the world, packaging applications do not represent all that. In our opinion, fashion is a very strong partner for introducing material in a way that adds value while communicating its own value.

CEF: What makes Reishi unique?

SW: Reishi is a highly engineered and customizable material, so we can develop specifications, be it size or features, and eliminate a lot of waste in the production process. Typically, working with animal hides is limited to what the farm can produce and the parameters of the animals you harvest. [With Reishi], we can develop the product straight to the design to eliminate waste from cutting and trimming. We may also work with customers to meet certain performance specifications, customize their appearance and develop those specifications.

CEF: How is Reishi advancing closed loop modeling in the fashion industry?

SW: We have new models for advanced material production. Mycelium grows on vegetable biomass and wood-based substrates so there is potential to centralize the production process by placing fine mycelium production alongside wood or biomass production. This highly portable technology is our strongest intervention in current supply chain models.

You can even collaborate with the fabrication of the final product. The by-product of Reishi production is actually the production of more mycelium-based products. The Reishi material is planted on a composite substrate, which self-implants in other mycelium components, which you can then use in structural panels, beams and foam packaging. There is a lot of potential closed loop in our manufacturing process, which is of great interest to us.

CEF: How does MycoWorks foster collaborative relationships with the leather industry?

SW: Instead of claiming that we are trying to replace skins, or provide an alternative to skins, we create options. Reishi, being a natural and non-plastic material, can be considered another delicate and rare skin along with other exotic skins such as crocodile, alligator, and ostrich. The leather industry, through our partners, is excited to work with us as we bring advanced material technology and a data-driven approach to the industry based on hundreds of years of craft expertise and know-how. . We have learned a lot from our partners in the leather industry and they have learned a lot from the processing methods and approaches we carry. They never had the opportunity to work with natural ingredients they could develop to specifications, which have a similar three-dimensional structure to collagen.

You might think of what we do as a crossroads between agricultural technology and the leather industry. The initial stages of our process are very similar to agricultural mushroom production in that we start with a similar substrate and inoculum. We then took some of the wisdom and models that come from tanning and finishing leather, and developed new chemicals and processes specifically for entirely new materials that are natural but not collagen or animal plastics.

CEF: What is the future for MycoWorks?

SW: In the next few years, our focus will be entirely on scaling our production processes to bring Reishi to our short list of selected brand launch partners who are exclusively engaged in fashion and luxury footwear. We opened a pilot facility and finally a full scale facility to support this launch and deliver the high volume that our brand partners have committed to. We think launching with these brand partners is the first step towards making Reishi and this technology ubiquitous as our partners are known for setting the highest standards for performance, quality and design.

In the long term, we hope to enable manufacturing co-locations to make supply chains more efficient and have an impact not only on the carbon footprint, but also on the overall production cost structure of these items.

Reishi is very measurable. I want this technology to be available in every corner of the world where there is agricultural production. There is potential worldwide for small producers to make secondary products with existing mushroom production and distribution infrastructure. Mycelium grows everywhere all over the planet and the input is very low – we just control the environment.

CEF: Is there someone who has inspired your work as a Closed Loop Innovator?

SW: As I began to understand and understand the stories I had to tell, I have to say that I was very inspired by Céline Semaan, the founder of Slow Factory Foundation and a defender of social and environmental justice. She educates about the fashion industry through an integrated approach that links it to economic justice and understands the impact of global colonialism, as well as issues around the workforce, environment and consumer production infrastructure. The messaging and communication interventions he takes to the world and the work he does with Slow Factory are integrated stories to tell.

I think the only way we can really change the system for all is with a very integrated approach. We are positioned [at MycoWorks] to make a tremendous impact in terms of the materials and fashion industry and I’m very excited to develop a platform through MycoWorks that can influence policy and direct decisions that affect the lives of individuals.

This blog part from the Closed Loop Innovators Series, featuring stories of women around the world innovating in business, civil society and science to reduce plastic waste pollution. A condensed version will appear in the forthcoming publication of the China Environmental Forum, InsightOut: Closing the Loop on Plastic Waste in China and the US

Clare Auld-Brokish is a research assistant at the Wilson Center’s China Environmental Forum where she works on urban water issues in China and global plastic waste. He recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Yunnan, China where he conducted environmental science research in freshwater lakes and developed wetlands.

Tongxin Zhu is a research assistant at the Wilson Center China Environment Forum. The focus is currently on marine plastic waste in China with an emphasis on consumer-facing industries. He recently graduated from Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public Policy with an MPP.

Source: Center for International Environmental Law, Edible Fungi and Medicines: Technology and Applications, Procedia Energi, United Nations News

Lead image credit: Sophia Wang, photo by Carla Tramullas, courtesy of MycoWorks.


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Joint Statement by Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States – Rocket attack in Erbil (16 February 2021) | Instant News

We, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States strongly condemn the February 15 rocket attack on Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. We extend our condolences to the victims, their families and the Iraqi people. Together, our governments will support the Government of Iraq’s investigation into the attacks with a view to holding those responsible to account. We are united in our view that attacks on the US and Coalition personnel and facilities will not be tolerated.


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UK approves $ 1.9bn in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since ban was lifted | Conflict News | Instant News

Britain signed up to nearly 1.4 billion pounds ($ 1.9 billion) worth of arms exports to Saudi Arabia between July and September last year following the lifting of a ban on arms sales to the Gulf nation – a move criticized as “immoral” amid continuing the war. in Yemen.

The publication of the figures by Britain’s Department of International Trade on Tuesday comes days after new United States President Joe Biden said his country was ending all support “for offensive operations” by the Saudi-led military coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, including “relevant arms sales”.

The announcement prompted increased calls for Britain – a key US ally – to do the same, but British officials have so far refused to follow suit.

The UK’s previous moratorium on arms sales to Saudi Arabia came into effect in June 2019 after the High Court issued a landmark ruling that forced officials to stop selling amid fears the weapons would be used in violation of international humanitarian law.

A subsequent government review concluded that there were “isolated incidents” of possible abuses by Saudi forces in Yemen, but “no clear risk” of future serious violations. Officials announced in July 2020 that Britain would resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia – its biggest arms buyer – after the review’s findings.

In the three-month period following its resumption, Britain authorized arms exports worth 1.39 billion pounds ($ 1.9 billion), according to government figures. The weapons category including missiles and bombs accounted for 1.36 billion pounds ($ 1.88 billion) of sales, although the figure does not specify which manufacturers received export authorizations.

An anti-arms trade campaigner denounced the sale as “shocking” and said the figures “reflect the British government’s determination to keep supplying arms at any cost”.

“British-made weapons have played a devastating role in the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis they created, but the British government has done everything it can to keep arms sales flowing,” Sarah Waldron, spokeswoman for the Campaign Against Arms Trading (CAAT), said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Now even the US is limiting the sale of its weapons, while the British government continues to foment war,” said CAAT’s Waldron. “They must change course now and work to support meaningful peace.”

Martin Butcher, conflict adviser to international aid group Oxfam, said British politicians had “once again … put profits before the life of Yemen” and branded arms sales documented on Tuesday as “immoral”.

“Arms exports to Saudi Arabia must stop immediately,” Butcher said in a statement. “Yemen is experiencing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world, with two-thirds of its population dependent on food aid, yet people are profiting from the suffering caused by these arms sales.”

Al Jazeera reached out to the Department of International Trade to comment on the criticism leveled against the government. In response, a spokesman said the UK operates “one of the most comprehensive export control regimes in the world”.

“The government takes its export responsibilities seriously and strictly assesses all export permits according to strict licensing criteria,” the spokesman said. “We will not issue an export permit which does not fit these criteria.”

The conflict in Yemen started in 2014 when the Houthis seized much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The war escalated in March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition stepped in in a bid to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government.

The coalition has been assisted by several Western powers, including Britain and the US. According to the CAAT, Britain has authorized a £ 6.8 billion ($ 9.3 billion) arms sale to Saudi Arabia since March 2015.

The two sides to the Yemen conflict have since been accused of war crimes during the fighting that has killed more than 110,000 people to date, including more than 12,500 civilians, according to the Locations of Armed Conflict and Event Data project.

Peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict have stalled since late 2018, despite repeated attempts by UN officials to revive negotiations and end what he calls the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

Based on The United Nations, 80 percent of Yemen’s 30 million people depend on humanitarian assistance to survive.


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Statement by foreign ministries of France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States (05 February 2021) | Instant News


5 February 2021

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States welcomed the agreement reached by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum on Libya’s interim executive authority tasked with leading the country to national elections on December 24, 2021.

This critical step towards achieving an inclusive, negotiated political solution is the result of a process that is truly Libya-led and owned, United Nations mediation, and the support of the Libyan people. In this regard, we laud the outstanding commitment of the United Nations Mission of Support in Libya and Acting Special Representative of Secretary General Stephanie Williams. We look forward to fully supporting the work of Special Envoy Ján Kubiš.

We call on all current Libyan authorities and actors to ensure the smooth and constructive handover of all competencies and duties to the new unified executive authority.

Since the Berlin Conference, Libya has made significant progress towards securing lasting peace and stability, including through the reopening of the energy sector, the 23 October 2020 national ceasefire agreement, the roadmap for holding national elections in December 2021, and now the election of a unified interim executive authority. .

The long road still lies ahead. The unified executive authority must enforce the ceasefire agreement, provide essential public services to the Libyan people, initiate a meaningful reconciliation program, address critical national budgetary needs, and organize national elections. The new interim government, to be proposed by the appointed Prime Minister, must be truly inclusive, allowing all Libyans to be represented, including with regard to gender, ethnicity and regional origin.

We call on the delegates of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum to retain their important functions, ensuring the focus of a new unified executive authority in preparing for and holding the elections decided by the Forum.

At the Berlin Conference on Libya last year, the international community committed to supporting the resolution of the Libyan conflict. In the spirit of that commitment, all Conference participants must now support the new executive authority in fulfilling its duties to the Libyan people, implement a full arms embargo, and support the immediate withdrawal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries.

We are ready to hold accountable those who threaten stability or undermine the political process in Libya.


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Libya Political Dialogue Forum – Statement by France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States (21 January 2021) | Instant News

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States welcomed the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) vote in favor of a new interim executive authority election mechanism, which will guide Libya to national elections on December 24. , 2021. This is an important step towards the unity of Libya. The LPDF decision affirms the clear demands of the Libyan people that it is time for a change in the status quo. We urge all Libyan parties to act promptly and in good faith to complete adoption through the LPDF of a united and inclusive government. As participants in the Berlin Conference process and international partner Libya, we will give our full support to the LPDF’s efforts.

We also welcome the appointment of the UN Secretary General Ján Kubiš as the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Libya, and the appointment of Raisedon Zenenga as UNSMIL Coordinator and Georgette Gagnon as Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, and we will fully support them in their important role. We express our continued thanks to Acting UN Special Representative, Stephanie Williams, for her unwavering leadership in UN mediation until Mr Kubiš took up his position.

One year after the Berlin Conference, we underlined the important role of the international community in supporting a political solution in Libya as well as our ongoing partnerships with members of the Berlin Process. We remind members of the Berlin Process of the solemn commitment we all made at the summit one year ago, strengthened by UNSCR 2510. In particular, we must continue to support the ceasefire, restore full respect to the UN arms embargo, and end foreign poisoning. interference that undermines the aspirations of all Libyans to re-establish their sovereignty and choose their future peacefully through national elections. It is imperative that all Libyan and international actors support steps towards the full implementation of the Libyan ceasefire agreement signed on 23 October last year, including the immediate opening of coastal roads and the removal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries.


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