The Human Impact

Looking ahead to 2013: what stories will make the headlines

January 12, 2013

Journalists working for Thomson Reuters Foundation’s AlertNet and TrustLaw news services cover humanitarian issues, climate change, women’s rights and corruption around the world. We asked the team to highlight some of the stories on their radar in 2013.

Editor-in-Chief Tim Large kicked off with his top stories:

1/ Countries in transition: My eye is on South Sudan as violence threatens to erupt along its disputed northern border; Myanmar as foreign money flows in; Arab Spring nations as they finish new constitutions; Afghanistan as it braces for NATO troop withdrawals; Pakistan as aid diminishes and cracks widen between military and judiciary… And of course Syria, where it’s hard to imagine the humanitarian situation getting any worse. Sadly it can.

2/ The temperature in Pyongyang: Is North Korea coming in from the cold – or at least thawing slightly? Signs are mixed. Yes, new leader Kim Jong-un has called for an end to confrontation with the South. Heck, the boss of Google even visited Pyongyang. But that didn’t stop North Korea lobbing a long-range rocket into space in December. Meanwhile, what’s the latest on the country’s chronic hunger crisis?

3/ Aid crunch: Will this be the year we see the full impact of the financial crisis on global aid? Official development assistance from major donors has already fallen more than $4 billion, according to last year’s data. Humanitarian aid is also down. But the full brunt of austerity budgets is only starting to hit, and we may see savage cuts in 2013.

Here are some of the key stories I will be looking at:

1/ Networks without borders: Natural disasters, conflict and violence make daily headlines, creating a sense that our world faces insurmountable problems. But globally, thanks to digital technology, non-state networks have sprung up from within civil society, the private sector and individuals, achieving new forms of co-operation and social change. How will they evolve? Could they even rival international institutions, like the United Nations, in shaping global policy?

2/ A parched future: Africa is heading for “hydrological suicide” if a scramble for cheap farmland by foreign investors continues unabated because there just isn’t enough water to irrigate all the newly acquired land. What can be done to stop this unabated land and water grabbing?

3/ Seeking urban refuge: Helping refugees in the world’s largest cities is becoming more of a pressing issue as half of the world’s refugees now live in cities and towns, many of them women, children and older people. With refugees often settling within poor and vulnerable communities in already overcrowded cities, how can their needs be met?

See the whole team’s responses here or dowload a PDF with our 2013 pressing issues.  We’d love to hear your thoughts too. Send your “pressing issues” to contribute@youtrust.org by Jan. 18. We’ll consider them for publication.

(IMAGE: A demonstrator punches through a portrait of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad during a protest outside the Syrian Embassy in London, United Kingdom, February 18, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

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