Reports of billionaires signing up to the Buffet-Gates Giving Pledge continue to make their way into the newspapers; most recently Richard Branson and Russian metals magnate Vladimir Potanin. Wealthy people from around the world are pledging to give at least half of their wealth to charities and philanthropic projects, such as addressing hunger in Africa, developing an HIV vaccine, and housing the homeless in local communities.
The statements on the Giving Pledge website make for inspiring reading, such as this small clip from Bill and Melinda Gates “We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful. But just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well.”
Bakhretdin Khakimov was wounded in battle in 1980, just months after the Soviet invasion, and was rescued by Afghans. He subsequently married and now practises herbal medicine.
Two 1980s office blocks in Norway are being renovated to use geothermal and solar energy in what is believed to be the first project of its type. Most focus on green energy has been in new buildings, but around 80% of existing buildings in developed countries are expected to still be in use in 2050. The buildings will produce more than enough electricity for lighting and heating in less than optimal conditions for solar energy.
Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has committed to ending the ivory trade in her country. Her announcement came during the opening of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok, which included a video address by Prince William backing the global campaign.
Thailand currently permits its citizens to trade in ivory from animals that have died of natural causes inside the country, but campaigners say the system provides a loophole for the trade of ivory from animals killed illegally elsewhere.
On the second anniversary of the disastrous tsunami that hit Japan, an anonymous donor has sent gold ingots worth at least £160,000 to survivors. The first two ingots arrived at the fish market in Ishinomaki, a town in north-east Japan where more than 40,000 buildings had been destroyed, in a package labelled ‘relief supplies’.
EU fisheries ministers have voted to phase out the controversial policy of dumping unwanted fish.