Lectra Reinforces Sustainability Commitment with


The full sustainable footprint of a fashion brand includes the impact of its suppliers, and customers are increasingly paying attention to their vendors’ actions.

Recognizing this, technology and equipment company Lectra has been ramping up its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in recent years to better serve the industry with lower-impact options. This year, it is taking this a step further by making CSR a central part of its business model and revealing more about its sustainability initiatives publicly. In February, the firm expanded on its existing efforts by introducing new objectives for 2023 to 2025, which cover ethical standards, environmental responsibility, diversity and inclusion and skill development.

Now, Lectra is solidifying its longstanding commitment to sustainability by joining the UN Global Compact, a framework for corporate responsibility that protects human rights, supports labor, conserves the environment and opposes corruption. With this move, Lectra joins over 12,000 other companies in the charter, including Gap Inc., H&M and Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing. Becoming part of the Compact will open the door for idea exchange between Lectra and other companies that can advance sustainability. Joining this international agreement also lets Lectra’s customers know where it stands.

“Our CSR priorities are fully aligned with the requirements of the United Nations Global Compact regarding corruption, human rights, labor and the environment, and more broadly with several UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said Daniel Harari, chairman and CEO of Lectra. “Formalizing our commitment to reach these objectives was logically the next step.”

Lectra introduced an anti-corruption system in 2018, which includes a code of conduct that prohibits behavior such as bribery, a whistleblowing program and annual training on ethics. In its 50-year history, Lectra has not had any reports or complaints about unethical behavior.

In 2011, the firm established the Lectra Charter for Responsible Purchasing, which requires that Lectra, its suppliers and its vendors’ suppliers all comply with laws on human rights and labor, safety rules and environmental standards. By 2022, 98 percent of its industrial purchases were covered by this commitment, not including those for then newly acquired Gerber Technology. A new charter rolled out in 2023 adds Gerber’s suppliers, and Lectra aims to have 90 percent of its industrial suppliers covered by 2025.

Lectra’s CSR initiatives also include diversity and inclusion efforts within its own workforce as well as a “stimulating working culture.” As part of its 2023-25 commitment, Lectra has outlined benchmarks that include zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment and equal opportunity. The company also supports employee well-being through health and safety as well as work-life balance. Another pillar is talent development, both among its own team and beyond. Lectra is helping to prepare the next generations of workers so they are qualified candidates.

As part of its own sustainability commitment, Lectra develops offerings that reduce its customers’ impact. Although it also serves the automotive and home sectors, about half of Lectra’s turnover in 2022 came from fashion, making it a high priority. “Whether it is in the fashion, automotive or furniture industry, major transformations are underway, and we must continue to support them, both internally and with our customers, as responsibly and sustainably as possible,” said Harari.

An example of this innovation in action is cutting machines that save between 5 to 10 percent of materials. This has sustainable significance, since materials account for 90 percent of a cutting room’s lifecycle emissions.

Lectra also acquired a majority 51 percent stake in blockchain traceability platform TextileGenesis earlier this year, adding to its solutions that assist the industry in being more transparent and sustainable.

“CSR is a major focus for Lectra,” said Harari. “We are committed to always going the extra mile for our customers, our employees and the whole company, with an even more committed and clear policy. When presenting our new roadmap, we therefore made CSR a pillar of our strategy.”

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Leïla Slimani on Her Novel ‘Watch Us Dance’


Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Catherine Helie

“Morocco is like a man, and you are deeply in love with him, but he will never love you as much as you love him.” This is how author Leïla Slimani’s mother once described her childhood homeland. That sense of yearning has served as a guiding principle behind the second installment in her multigenerational trilogy, Watch Us Dance (out now). In the new release, readers are reunited with the Belhaj family, whom we first met in In the Country of Others, on the other side of their once near-destitute farm’s success. In the sequel, set against a postcolonial Morocco of the 1960s and ’70s, anything is possible for Aïcha, the now-grown daughter of Mathilde and Amine — including a budding awareness of her position in the world.

Though Aïcha and Mathilde are based loosely on Slimani’s mother and grandmother, respectively, don’t mistake the series for autofiction.“I’m not trying to tell the true story of my grandmother. I’m trying to write a story about the woman I imagined my grandmother was when I was a child, about the fantasy I had about her in my head,” Slimani told me. That sense of fantasy, coupled with the significance of class divisions, is a through-line in her work, and the possibilities it affords are limitless. She was the first Moroccan woman to be awarded France’s highest literary award in 2016 for her novel The Perfect Nanny (which fittingly turns racial power structures on their head, with a white French caregiver employed by a young North African mother). It’s been adapted into a French film, and will become an HBO series starring Nicole Kidman. She also recently wrapped a stint as chairwoman of the International Booker Prize, an experience she says reminded her of the fact that “literature is always to come, it is always to be defined. It’s never done.”

Plus, she’s a diplomat, having been appointed the emissary of Francophone Affairs by French president Emmanuel Macron in 2017. To present “the open face of Francophonie” to the world is to recognize a series of contradictions — being caught between two nations, and belonging, maybe, to neither. It’s something she’s trying to untangle, both in that role and through her writing. Morocco is not a monolith, and neither is progress, knowledge, or a woman.

It is no small feat to render a place and time as vividly as Slimani does in Watch Us Dance, her descriptions only adding to the work’s air of reverie. The Cut spoke to her about the new book, what it means to capture memory at a distance, the relationship between language and colonialism, good red wine, and more.

What was it like for your family to see fragments of their lives and identities written on a page?
I know my mother was very moved. I know that it was probably not very easy … to know that I was writing about her parents and writing about her, being inspired by them. Mostly because many people don’t differentiate between fiction and reality. I think for her, sometimes it’s difficult when she meets people at the supermarket and they ask her about the sex life of her parents because they just read In the Country of Others.

Is there a dish you like to cook or eat that reminds you of Morocco?
The smell of cilantro, coriander, and the very hot bread that my mother used to bake. For me, that’s the smell of Morocco.

In a previous interview with the Cut, you explained that your distance from Morocco — that is, not living there — in large part served your ability to write so vividly about it. Was that true this time around?
I wrote it during lockdown in France. It was actually impossible to go back to Morocco for weeks, for months. It was very difficult because I needed to go there. Contrary to the first book, for this one I had the possibility to watch a lot of little movies from my parents, to look at a lot of photographs, a lot of visual things that helped me very much to describe the atmosphere and describe the settings and all that. But being away is not really a problem because you use your memory and you try to remember very little details — details that are very significant. I am so attached, so fascinated by this country, my childhood country. I remember everything, because everything was so strong for me, so deep, and at the same time, so heartbreaking.

Can you describe your writing practice?
I wake up at 5:30 and I have my coffee, and then I come to my office. It’s very quiet, very calm, and I have a very nice view of a garden. I begin to write at 6:00. I write by hand in a notebook … ideas, things that I saw, things I heard, an anecdote that someone told me, and then I open my computer and begin to write. I don’t move from my office until 2:00 p.m. Even if I have nothing to write, even if I have no inspiration, I stay in my office in front of my computer waiting for something to come. I wear my pajamas. I don’t take a shower. I drink a lot of coffee and I smoke a lot of cigarettes. I’m always worried about the idea that maybe one day nothing will come and I will never write again. That’s the worst nightmare for me.

How about winding down after a day of writing?
I love red wine — red French wine. I have to say I’m very classic. But a good glass of Bourgogne is the best thing in the world. And if you can have some baguette and a good cheese, for me, it’s just paradise.

What are your reading habits?
When I’m writing a novel, I have ten books that I’m reading all the time. They are my companions … I really feel that some writers are my friends. I know them by heart and they know me. I always have Marguerite Duras with me. I have Faulkner, I have Chekhov, I have Virginia Woolf or Patricia Highsmith. For me, they are really my friends. I need them next to me.

How do you feel about the idea of “summer reads” or “beach reads”?
I have nothing against them. One day in a very, very long time I will stop writing and I will decide to have something called holidays. Maybe then I will read some, and I will probably enjoy them very, very much with a Caipirinha or a good cocktail.

What, if any, is your relationship to Arabic?
I speak Darija [a Moroccan dialect of Arabic], but I don’t speak classical Arabic [Fusha]. It’s something that I’m very ashamed of. I learned Arabic from the age of 6 to the age of 18, and I don’t speak it and I don’t write it. I mean, it’s so weird. It’s impossible to explain that.

As an African and as a Moroccan and as an Arab, I don’t want to be the hostage of colonialism. I don’t want to have to defend myself if I speak French and say, “No, I’m not betraying my country or betraying my culture. I didn’t sell my soul to the French or to the colonialists.” I think we have to stop with that. French is my language as much as it is the language of French people and the language of people from Switzerland or Belgium or whatever. That’s why I decided to work with President Macron, to tell all the young people from Morocco, from Senegal, from Haiti: You don’t have to justify yourself. You can speak French if you want to speak French. I mean, the more languages you speak, the more human you are. With the rise of Islamism and all the conservatives in Morocco and in the Arab world, it was very important for me to be brave enough to say I’m not ashamed of speaking French, and I’m not ashamed of wanting to be more open, and to speak more languages.

Does the process of translation from French affect your relationship to your text and your Moroccan characters?
In a way, it does. But in a good way, because when I go to Spain or to Italy or to England, and I speak with people about my Moroccan characters, it’s not the same as in France. When I speak about my characters in a country where Morocco is a foreign and mysterious country, I feel that I have the opportunity to give them maybe another vision of the country.

Where will the final installment in the series take us?
The first one is the novel of colonization, the second one is postcolonialism, and the third one will be globalization in the ’80s and ’90s. So you will have chapters in New York, in Paris, in London, in Belgium.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Watch Us Dance

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Researchers find an attitude-behavior gap in


Family shopping in a supermarket, looking at fruits.

30 Jun 2023 — Purchasing data of 8,400 German households show that almost half behaved unsustainably due to high consumption of meat or sweet snacks. At the same time, consumers stated they intentionally reduced their meat consumption and avoided foods that are harmful to health. 

People with more positive attitudes and intentions to buy healthy and sustainable foods had more positive sustainable purchases, but food values and intentions did not wholly translate into actual behavior. 

Only a small part of consumers followed relatively sustainable diets, with high levels of organic food, low levels of meat, sweet snacks, alcohol and processed foods. 

“The analysis is a vital starting point for designing a holistic policy instrument mix to close the gaps and to reach a sustainable transformation of the food system,” note the researchers. 

The research resulted in five consumer segments: 2% of consumers had a high consumption of organic foods, while 8% were medium organic food buyers, “heavy meat buyers” accounted for 25% of the sample, “sweet snack enthusiasts” for 20% and the remaining 46% were categorized as “mainstream consumers.” 

Healthy or sustainable diets? 
The study suggests that many consumers behave sustainably in only one dimension at a time, either climate-friendly, healthy or environmentally friendly. 

Moreover, the small share of the sample with relatively sustainable food consumption still purchased considerable amounts of beef and cheese. 

Healthy food on a plate, with many vegetables. Sustainable diets were defined as organic, with low consumption of meat, sweet snacks, alcohol and processed foods.Gaps between stated and actual behavior were highest for the high sweets and meat buyers. A third of these groups agreed to avoid everything in their diet that is harmful to their health, “even though they showed rather unhealthy consumption patterns,” say the researchers. 

A third of people with the highest meat purchases said they consciously reduce meat consumption.

The attitude-behavior gap was limited for the purchase of organic food. 

The authors suggest that future research determines how the attitude-behavior gap develops over time and how consumers with positive attitudes toward different sustainable production methods can be motivated to transform these intentions into purchasing behavior. 

Consumer attitudes and behavior 
Medium and high organic food buyers had high preferences for local, natural and fair trade food, placing a great importance on environmental protection. A large share of this group had high incomes and was likelier to be in the youngest age group (under 40). 

However, the researchers noted that buying organic food did not align with low meat consumption, as consumers bought relatively high amounts of beef and poultry. 

Heavy meat buyers had a low awareness of environmental issues and a limited preference for fair trade food. A third of this group reported intentionally reducing their meat consumption. According to the researchers, the diet of this segment causes high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. 

The group spending the most on sweet snacks, attaches low importance to environmental protection, has an average intention to reduce meat and prefers convenient and fast food while paying the lowest prices for food, on average. 

At the same time, this group’s diet had a low climate impact as beef and cheese consumption was limited. Moreover, the researchers note that the segment consumed a high proportion of sweets and processed foods with relatively low greenhouse gas emissions. 

Mainstream consumers were slightly more environmentally oriented than the meat and sweet snack segments. The researchers found a large share of people over 70 in this group. 

Computer screen with graphs. The study compared the purchases of 8,400 households with consumer values on sustainable food.Due to the study setup, the study could not explain the causes behind those differences, caution the authors. 

Household panel data  
In the study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, the authors analyzed the purchases of 8,400 households in household panel data from Germany over one year. These data showed total food purchases, organic versus conventional food bought and information on specific food categories, such as sweets and meat. 

Participating households used an electronic device to register their food purchases while inputting information on price and store name. 

Moreover, the head of each household filled out a written questionnaire on topics such as consumer lifestyle, values and attitudes toward food and socio-demographic characteristics. 

To determine sustainable food consumption behavior, the researchers used three indicators. The purchase of organic products was used as a proxy for diets’ environmental impacts, buying fresh meat was used to identify a diet’s climate impact and sweet snack purchases to assess the healthiness of a diet. 

For each indicator, the researchers compared the expenditures on the different categories with total food spending in the year. 

The authors note choosing three dimensions of sustainability is a useful starting point, but it oversimplifies the complex issue of healthy diets. They recommend future research adds a dimension to identify how food waste behavior relates to healthy and environmentally-friendly food choices. 

Due to data unavailability, they could not include processed meat purchases in the study, which may have biased the outcomes. 

Large meeting table with people around it. Sustainable diets require a systems approach, from consumers, corporate and public actors.Global food systems transition 
Authors of an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences share their perspective on the food system transition, responding to the EAT-Lancet review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system. 

“The global food systems transition calls for local, national and global solutions, based on interdisciplinary research collaboration and transnational scaling-up of national and local policies,” argue the authors. 

“This requires a restoration of the balance between economic and public interest, strengthening the regulatory power of public food system actors and increased corporate accountability.” 

They explain that what entails a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet depends on local contexts, stating that research and policies should use metrics on sustainable and healthy food choices that accurately estimate possible trade-offs.

Moreover, sustainable diets require a systems approach, note the authors. Science needs to scale up, minimize fragmentation and strengthen its interface with food production and policy stakeholders to go beyond price, convenience and taste.

They hold food system actors accountable for the sustainable food transition in their positions in national and international supply chains. Governments should initiate the change – e.g., through economic interventions or policies – as this goes beyond the influence of citizens and is not of primary interest to supply chain actors. 

“Corporate actors have the power, public actors the responsibility and citizens the right to enjoy ethically responsible and economically affordable foods as a public good,” conclude the authors. 

By Jolanda van Hal 

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Why Are Big Brands Leaving Social Media and


image: iStock©

Oh my god… the hype of social media is vanishing in 2023.

Big brands are leaving social media, and the trend seems to be gaining momentum. Earlier this year, the luxury fashion house Bottega Veneta announced that it would no longer be posting on Instagram and Facebook. Shortly after, beauty brand Lush followed suit, dropping its presence on Zuckerberg-owned channels in 48 countries. 

With these prominent departures, one can’t help but wonder if this marks the beginning of a significant shift in the marketing landscape. Will your brand be the next to leave social media? Let’s dive into these questions thoroughly and know the absolute truth. 

Why Bottega Veneta and Lush brands left social media.

The decision to step away from social media is critical, while many big brands still depend on social media to generate revenue for their business. On the other hand, the luxury darling, Bottega Veneta, led by creative director Daniel Lee at the start of 2021, made a bold move, removing social media platforms from its marketing activities. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Lee explained the rationale behind this decision, stating, “there is a mood of playground bullying on social media which I don’t really like. I wanted to do something joyful instead… I don’t want to collude in an atmosphere that feels negative.” The desire to escape the negativity associated with social media played a significant role in Bottega Veneta’s departure.

Lush, the renowned beauty brand, echoed similar sentiments as they bid farewell to social media. Last month, Lush’s chief digital officer, Jack Constantine, revealed their decision to abandon various platforms, offering an intriguing perspective. 

Constantine explained, “It is counter-intuitive for us to use platforms that keep you hyper-tense, engaged, and anxious.” This departure from social media aligns with Lush’s commitment to promoting a positive and mindful approach to beauty.

But what does this mean for your brand? Is it time to recreate your social media presence and explore alternative avenues? While social media has undeniably played a critical role in modern marketing.

They are leaving social media, so does it mean they are not doing marketing? Do they need to find customers for their brands? 

The answer is NO. There’s no business that doesn’t need customers. Of Course, they abandoned social media, but they’ve invested heavily in PR to give them authority in front of their existing audience. 

Public Relations (PR) is a powerful alternative for businesses looking to build authority and shape their own stories. By focusing on PR strategies, your brands can create a more personalized and human touch and a legacy for yourself. 

A legacy which will not only help your brand to increase sales but help you build your personal brand as well. We are not saying to reject digital marketing; instead, create a legacy by using PR strategies in your business. Bottega Veneta and Lush are giving a wake-up call for brands to reevaluate their marketing strategies. They are making us question the impact of social media on our well-being and the authenticity of our brand messaging. It may be time to consider whether our marketing efforts are aligned with our values and whether alternative approaches, such as PR, can offer a more fulfilling and effective path to success.


The Limitations of Social Media 

Where we, all addicted to social media, tend to forget there are many limitations there which stop us from growing and increasing business opportunities for our brands. The first limitation is:

Dependence on Algorithms for Organic Reach and Growth

In social media marketing, many big brands have increasingly relied on algorithms to achieve organic reach and growth. Algorithms act as gatekeepers, determining which content is shown to users based on various factors such as engagement, relevancy, and timeliness. While algorithms were initially seen as a means to enhance user experience, they have become crucial factors in a brand’s success on social media platforms.

Decreasing organic reach due to algorithm changes

One of the biggest challenges for businesses on social media is the constant algorithm changes, often decreasing organic reach. What used to work yesterday might not work today. Algorithm updates can drastically impact the visibility of a brand’s content, leading to reduced reach and engagement. Brands must constantly adapt strategies to keep up with these changes and maintain their presence in users’ feeds.

Challenges to stand out from competitors on crowded social platforms

With billions of users and countless brands vying for attention, standing out on social media has become increasingly challenging. The crowded nature of these platforms makes it difficult for brands to capture the attention of their target audience and differentiate themselves from competitors. Creating compelling content, fostering meaningful connections with followers, and employing creative strategies is crucial for brands to break through the noise and make an impact.

Lack of control over the platform’s policies and changes

Brands often need more control over the policies and changes implemented by social media platforms. Algorithm updates, content restrictions, and policy changes can directly impact a brand’s ability to reach its audience effectively. This Lack of control can be frustrating for businesses that invest time, effort, and resources into building their social media presence, only to have it impacted by sudden platform changes.

Negative impact of social media controversies on brand reputation

Social media controversies can have a profound impact on a brand’s reputation. In an era where information travels at lightning speed, a single misstep or negative interaction can quickly escalate, severely damaging a brand’s image. Controversies, negative comments, or viral backlash can tarnish a brand’s reputation, making it challenging to recover consumer trust and loyalty. Navigating social media’s potential pitfalls requires careful monitoring, prompt response, and a solid crisis management strategy to mitigate potential damage.

Businesses must be aware of their challenges in a digital world heavily influenced by algorithms and social media dynamics. Companies can effectively navigate the social media landscape and create meaningful connections with their audience by understanding the dependence on algorithms, adapting to changes, finding ways to stand out, navigating platform policies, and proactively managing brand reputation.


How Starbucks Transformed Themselves Through PR Strategies

Starbucks, a global coffeehouse chain, is an exemplary example of a company that successfully transformed itself through strategic PR strategies. Facing various challenges and controversies in its early years, Starbucks implemented PR initiatives that addressed negative, reshaped its brand image, and positioned the company for long-term success.


Challenges Faced

In the early 2000s, Starbucks faced several challenges. Critics accused the company of driving local coffee shops out of business, and there were concerns about the ethical sourcing of their coffee beans. Additionally, Starbucks experienced a decline in customer satisfaction, leading to negative word-of-mouth and decreased sales.


Their PR Approach

To address these challenges, Starbucks embarked on a comprehensive PR approach that focused on rebuilding trust, enhancing brand reputation, and fostering positive stakeholder relationships. The following PR strategies were instrumental in their transformation:


1) Ethical Sourcing and Sustainability Initiatives

Starbucks prioritized ethical sourcing of coffee beans and implemented sustainability initiatives to address concerns raised by stakeholders. The company engaged in direct trade relationships with farmers, ensuring fair compensation and sustainable farming practices. Through PR campaigns highlighting these efforts, Starbucks demonstrated its commitment to responsible sourcing, which resonated positively with customers and industry stakeholders.

2) Community Engagement and Corporate Social responsibility 

It strongly emphasized community engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR). They launched initiatives like the Starbucks Foundation, which supports education and youth programs. By partnering with local organizations and engaging in community projects, Starbucks showcased its dedication to making a positive impact beyond its stores. These initiatives garnered positive media coverage and enhanced the brand’s reputation.

3) Transparent Communication and Crisis Management

Starbucks embraced transparent communication and implemented effective crisis management strategies. When faced with controversies, such as the 2018 incident involving racial bias in one of their stores, Starbucks promptly acknowledged the issue, took responsibility and implemented comprehensive training programs to address implicit bias. Their swift and transparent response demonstrated a commitment to rectifying mistakes and rebuilding trust.

4) Results and Impact: The implementation of PR strategies had a transformative impact on Starbucks:

  • Improved Brand Perception and Customer Loyalty: Starbucks’ emphasis on ethical sourcing, sustainability, and community engagement significantly improved brand perception. Customers viewed Starbucks as a socially responsible company, leading to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. The company’s initiatives resonated with consumers, who aligned with Starbucks’ values.
  • Strengthened Stakeholder Relationships: Through its CSR initiatives, community engagement, and transparent communication, Starbucks fostered stronger relationships with stakeholders. Customers, employees, and investors perceived Starbucks as an authentic and socially conscious brand, resulting in increased support and loyalty from these critical stakeholders.
  • Long-Term Business Growth: The successful PR strategies implemented by Starbucks contributed to long-term business growth. The enhanced brand reputation and positive perception attracted new customers and retained existing ones, driving revenue and profitability. Starbucks also expanded its global presence, solidifying its position as a market leader in the coffee industry.

Starbucks’ transformative journey exemplifies how effective PR strategies can reshape a company’s brand image, rebuild trust, and foster stakeholder relationships. 

By prioritizing ethical sourcing, sustainability, community engagement, and transparent communication, Starbucks successfully transformed its brand perception, increasing customer loyalty and long-term business growth. This case study highlights the power of strategic PR in revitalizing a company’s reputation and positioning it for success in a competitive market.


The long-term value of investing in PR for sustainable growth

Investing in PR brings long-term value to your business by building a solid foundation for sustainable growth. PR efforts focus on establishing a brand reputation, fostering positive relationships, and enhancing credibility. By consistently communicating your brand’s key messages and values, PR helps create a strong brand identity that resonates with your target audience, setting the stage for long-term success and stability. It also gives you many opportunities, which we’ll discuss below: 

1) Establishing a solid brand reputation for future business opportunities

PR plays a crucial role in shaping and maintaining a solid brand reputation. A positive reputation opens doors to future business opportunities, including partnerships, collaborations, and joint ventures. When your brand is known for its integrity, trustworthiness, and industry expertise, potential partners and stakeholders are more likely to engage with you, leading to enhanced business growth and expansion.

2) Generating positive media coverage and increasing brand exposure

One of the primary benefits of PR is its ability to generate positive media coverage, which significantly increases brand exposure. Through strategic media relations, press releases, and story pitching, PR professionals secure media placements that highlight your brand’s unique offerings, accomplishments, and thought leadership. This increased media exposure reaches a broader audience and builds brand credibility and visibility in the eyes of potential customers and industry influencers.

3) Attracting potential investors, partners, and customers

Effective PR strategies help attract potential investors, partners, and customers to your business. By showcasing your expertise, industry knowledge, and positive brand image, PR creates a favorable impression among stakeholders. Investors seek companies with solid reputations and growth potential, while partners and customers are more likely to align themselves with trusted and respected brands. PR is vital in establishing these crucial connections and driving meaningful business relationships.

4) Higher return on investment compared to social media advertising

PR often provides a higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional social media advertising. While social media advertising requires ongoing investments, PR efforts continue to yield benefits long after initial campaigns. Positive media coverage and brand reputation built through PR efforts can have a lasting impact, resulting in increased brand recognition, customer loyalty, and organic growth. This long-term ROI makes PR a cost-effective and impactful marketing strategy for businesses seeking sustainable results.

By leveraging the power of PR, businesses can achieve lasting growth, credibility, and a competitive edge in the marketplace.


In conclusion, while social media has its benefits, it also has limitations, such as algorithm dependence and decreasing organic reach. On the other hand, PR offers businesses greater control over brand narratives, the ability to target specific audiences and leverage media coverage. It provides a more sustainable and practical approach to building brand reputation and credibility.

Today, I’ve shared so many PR secrets with you and with that, I’m inviting you who are reading it right now to explore the potential of leveraging PR for business growth. Get in touch with us today to discover how PR strategies can transform your brand and drive business growth. I’ll guide you towards leveraging PR to build authority, enhance your reputation, and achieve long-term success. Let’s explore the possibilities together and embark on a journey to transform your business through PR.

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John J. Rankin Out! Daniel Pruce In! as Governor


LONDON, UK- The Virgin Islands (VI) will get a new Governor effective January 2024. Mr Daniel Pruce has been appointed Governor of the VI, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) office detailed today, June 30, 2023.

This comes as current Governor H.E Mr John J. Rankin CMG is said to be retiring from diplomatic Service, paving the way for Mr Pruce to take up the appointment in January.

The FCDO said Mr Pruce has years of experience as a diplomat the most recent being FCDO, Interim Director of Communication from 2021 to 2022, Her Majesty’s Ambassador in Manila from 2017 to 2021and Deputy Head of Mission, Madrid from 2012 to 2016.

Mr Pruce was in 2008 to 2012 the Deputy Head of Mission in Bangkok and served as the FCO, Head of Strategic Communications, Europe & Globalisation Directorate from 2007 to 2008.

Rankin is 14th Governor 

In a short ceremony on Friday, January 29, 2021, His Excellency John J. Rankin, CMG was sworn in as the 14th United Kingdom (UK) appointed Governor of the [British] Virgin Islands.

During the ceremony, it was revealed by Deputy Governor David D. Archer Jr, while reading the Royal Commission of Appointment, that Governor Rankin’s appointment had took effect from the previous Ex-Governor Augustus J.U. Jaspert departed the territory on Saturday, January 23, 2021.

Mr Rankin then took the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath for due Execution of Office, administered by Madam Justice Vicki Ann Elis before the Governor and Justice Vicki Ellis signed the Oath.

Controversy in office 

During his tenure, Mr Rankin has been accused of lying to the people of the VI regarding a statement made on February 14, 2023, where he said it would have been possible for a dissolution of the House of Assembly and a new election called following the release of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Report, however, members of the House of Assembly chose to form a Government of National Unity and committed to the implementation of the CoI recommendations.

Then Unity Government Premier Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) had slammed the Governor over the statement after labeling it false, while reiterating that the VI Government had wanted to maintain a good relationship in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands because he believes collaboration is better than conflict.

According to the Premier, the statement from the Governor was, therefore, one that was trying to bamboozle the people of the VI, “I’m not going allow the governor or anybody else to bamboozle the people of the Virgin Islands,” he had said.

Gov Rankin was caught in another lie?

Mr Rankin had also been caught in a scandal over whether he knew in advance of the United States (US) sting operation that led to the arrest of ex-Premier of the Virgin Islands, Andrew A. Fahie in Miami on April 28, 2022.

The Governor has repeatedly denied having prior knowledge of the arrest of Mr Fahie and had said it was not a joint UK/US operation.

Tortoise Media on September 22, 2022, said, despite the claims of the Governor, that a recording sent ‘inadvertently’ by the Governor’s Office suggested that the Governor does in fact sign off on US DEA operations in the VI and that he generally knows of investigations that are underway. 

The Governor in a short clip said, “I do give the authorisation for DEA operations.”

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IAC’s 13th Annual Gold and Diamond Conference


(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — Maintaining Purpose, Initiatives in Art and Culture’s (IAC) 13th annual international conference on gold and diamonds will be held in person from Monday evening July 17, 2023, through Wednesday afternoon July 19, 2023, at Bohemian National Hall in the Upper East Side. Esteemed panelists, industry leaders, jewelers and innovators will discuss pressing issues surrounding sustainability and the realization of artistic vision. The conference will feature thought-provoking talks, insightful conversations, and engaging panel discussions aimed at shaping a responsible and transparent future for the industry. The conference kicks off with a welcoming reception at Heritage Auctions New York, located at 445 Park Avenue, with remarks by Roberta Kramer, Vice President, Strategy & Business Development at Heritage.

IAC’s focus for this year’s conference is on maintaining purpose, while exploring varied declarations of principle on responsible practice and cultural preservation, and how to harmonize and operationalize them. It will feature consideration of new technologies for extraction and sourcing, new mine-to-market models, and new approaches to training, and a discussion on the evolution of environmental and climate challenges. The fundamental focus explored over the course of the two and a half days will be a critical question: what constitutes luxury in an age of responsible practice? Highlighted by the participation of renowned jewelers, experts, and up-and-coming members of the trade, attendees will dive in and explore the ever-evolving world of gold and diamonds. Additionally, this year marks the launch of a collaboration with CIBJO which is jointly organizing a session with IAC. Remarking on the conference and the partnership Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri, President, World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) states, “Initiatives in Art and Culture’s annual Gold + Diamond Conference has firmly established its credentials as a critically important vantage point from which to examine jewelry and the jewelry industry as a business, cultural and artistic endeavor, within the context of contemporary society. What draws it apart is that it considers each of those elements with equal fervor, enabling us as professionals to look ahead to what will challenge us in the month and years ahead. The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) is proud to partner with IAC, collaborating with it to bring this perspective to a global audience.”

Lisa Koenigsberg, President of Initiatives in Art and Culture states, “2030 and 2050: when these target dates for achieving transformational goals were set, they seemed far off. But that future is now. IAC’s conference, ‘Maintaining Purpose,’ will feature robust discussion of the measures, methods, practices, social values, and commitments required to successfully achieve the vision set forth in declarations of principle which intentionally differ from roadmaps. IAC is grateful to the distinguished roster of authorities, industry leaders, and masterful jewelers from throughout the world who will join us for this collective consideration of both keeping the dream alive and realizing it throughout the complex and interdependent ecosystem of the jewelry world and beyond.”

IAC, in honor of its traditions and continued emphasis on taking charge of the future, will be presenting its awards for thought leadership and changemaking in the industry. The sixth annual Leadership in Responsible Practice Award honoree is jeweler, Pippa Small. IAC will also be presenting its third annual Award for Extraordinary Contributions to the Diamond and Jewelry Industries to fine jewelry designer, Satta Matturi.

Tuesday morning will start with “Global expectations and sustainability: Language, legislation, regulation, and transformation.” Panelists will discuss what “sustainability” means in different contexts, and what it means to strive for a sustainable world, both practically and contextually speaking. Members of this panel include Tiffany Stevens, CEO and President at Jewelers Vigilance Committee; Suzanne Brooks, Senior Standards Manager, Responsible Jewellery Council; Gaetano Cavalieri; Johanna Levy, Vice President, ESG strategy at GIA; which will be moderated by Mark Hanna, Chief Marketing Officer at Richline. Following the panel attendees will delve into the topic of “Action vs. Aspiration: Beyond pledges and commitments,” where the industry will discuss the navigation and proliferation of codes and certifications, and the importance of verification to the consumer. Modification of practices for compliance and implementation of technology will be discussed by Gaetano Cavalieri; Shari Gittleman, Senior Director External Relations at Newmont Mining Corporation; Tiffany Stevens; and, as moderator, John Mulligan, Director, and Climate Lead of World Gold Council. The dynamic conversation will explore the distinction between declarations of principle and roadmaps for achieving and measuring tangible actions in sustainability goals.

Hanna says, “Heightened gold prices, ongoing pressure for environmental, social, and mining improvement and the increasingly knowledgeable, demanding consumer, informed dialogue on the precious metals and associated industries, including gold jewelry, are of paramount interest. IAC brings together those in the know and those wanting and needing to know at the premiere event combining discussion of Responsible practices, precious materials, gold jewelry, and knowledgeable, impactful speakers.”


The conference will then address “Origins: Achieving transparency in a transformational age.” A commitment to transparency, in terms of origin and impact, will be explored, and Sarine will share its work with technology, verifiable data and beyond. The difference in intention between proving origin from the outset and post-facto determination of origin in the system using trace elements will be discussed. This section will be a conversation between Sara Yood, Deputy General Counsel at Jewelers Vigilance Committee; David Block, CEO of Sarine; Allison Charalambous, Vice President of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability, Brilliant Earth; and Rob Bates, News Director, JCK. This will be followed by a presentation from jewelry designer Satta Matturi, who will cover the marriage of African Heritage, and awareness of new, emerging Africa, with an understanding of British craft and global design.

Tuesday afternoon will resume with the discussion “Ensuring a future for independent makers,” moderated by Jean Z. Poh, CEO, CADAR. This panel is followed by a discussion with John Mulligan; Charlie Betts, Group Managing Director, The Betts Group; Olivier Demierre, SVP Corporate Social Responsibility at MKS PAMP Group and President, Swiss Better Gold Association; Sabrina Karib, Founder, Precious Metals Impact Forum; Tiffany Stevens; and Kevin Telmer on “Responsibly sourced gold: Options and challenges,” moderated by Lisa Koenigsberg. Discussants will consider the structure, scale, and function of the mainstream gold market and how the value of gold is determined, setting the larger context for valuing responsibly sourced gold and a discussion of premiums. The legitimization of ASM-produced gold within the formal gold sector, the calculation of risk, and recycled gold will be also covered. The afternoon will close with a panel offered collaboratively with CIBJO on “Intellectual Property.”

That evening, there will be a reception and conversation with Pippa Small, who will then be presented with her award for Leadership in Responsible Practice. This award is presented annually to a member of the jewelry industry who has made a transformational contribution to ethical sourcing and responsible practices in the worldwide gem and jewelry trade. Lisa Koenigsberg has observed that “Since first launching in 2007, Pippa Small has prioritized ethical practices and cultural collaboration, while working to generate secure livelihoods in areas of conflict and to create opportunities for women to learn valuable skills. Her signature styles serve to link diverse collections, materials, communities and global artisanry. Her resplendent jewelry embodies the social responsibility mirrored by her global commitments.”

Satta Matturi will be presented with the award for Extraordinary Contributions to the Diamond and Jewelry Industries. Of Matturi, a rough diamond expert from West Africa, Koenigsberg notes, “Satta Matturi’s commitment to African design motifs and her reverence for exceptional material and craftsmanship are matched by her belief in the social impact of diamonds in Africa. Her work as a designer of culturally powerful and resonant elegant diamond jewelry since 2015, her support for responsible practice throughout the diamond supply chain, and her service as a board member of the RJC uniquely qualify her for this award.” Further remarking on the recipients, Koenigsberg noted how delighted the Committees were to have bestowed both awards on women who are jewelry designers who match the artisanry of their work with their commitment to global change and responsible practice.

The conference resumes Wednesday morning, when the discussion “Transitioning to low- or zero-carbon methods without subjecting at-risk communities to the new socioeconomic injustices” begins the day. Gracelin Baskaran, Nonresident Fellow – Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative, The University of Cambridge; Shari Gittleman; Olivier Demierre; Matt Saunders, Principal at Helena Special Investments; Mark Hanna; and John Mulligan, as moderator, will discuss and review the greenhouse gas protocol and definitions, the gold sector’s contribution to climate change, and role of carbon offset in supply chains. This will be followed by “Reducing the environmental impact of gold extraction: Defining best practices.” Luis E. Fernandez, Centro de Innovación Científica Amazónia of Wake Forest University; Toby Pomeroy, Mercury Free Mining; Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA; Susan Keane, Senior Director of Global Advocacy, Natural Resources Defense Council and Global Coordinator of Planet Gold; and John Richmond, Founder of Sluice Goose Industries and the inventor of Goldrop; Edward Bickham, Senior Advisor, World Gold Council, will moderate this timely discussion. The panel will discuss the overlap between climate and biodiversity, approaches to mercury reduction, and Planet Gold’s training program for mercury reduction.

The morning continues with “Reconceptualizing mine to market: the Cruzeiro approach,” with jewelers Laís Demarchi, of Verachi and Richard Fiszman; Debora Lucki and Camilla Guimãraes, co-founders of Julls; Douglas Neves, CEO of Cruzeiro Mine; and Adriano Mol, Head of Center for Gemstone and Jewelry Design at the University of Minas Gerais State, Brand & Product Development for Cruzeiro Mine, in an engaging discussion, moderated by Brecken Branstrator, Editor-in-Chief, Gemworld International, Inc.


Wednesday afternoon kicks off with Brazilian jewelry designer Silvia Furmanovich who will discuss her work, involvement with world cultures and natural materials, and her commitment artisanry and detail. Her discussion is followed by a panel on with “Government, governance, and managing risk in ASGM/ASM.” Panelists include Kevin Telmer, Executive Director of Artisanal Gold Council in Victoria, BC; Ruby Stocklin-Weinberg, Program Manager of GemFair and De Beers; Gracelin Baskaran; Rachel Perks, Senior Mining Specialist, and with Energy and Extractives Department of Global Practice at the World Bank; Cristina Villegas, Director of Mines to Market, Pact and will be moderated by Edward Bickham. The definition and benefits of “formalization” will be discussed, as will ways to increase market access, and potential approaches for navigating risk.

Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith, Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships, American Craft Council, will moderate the concluding panel, “Training the next generation in the jewelry sectors. Where do we go from here?” Participants include Nanz Auland, goldsmith, jewelry designer, and author; Romy Gakh-Baram, Director of Global Marketing & Brand Director at Sarine; Susie Ganch, Founder & Director of Radical Jewelry Makeover and Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University; Adriano Mol; and Mark Nelson, Education Coordinator for Rio Grande. During this exchange, panelists will consider how to incorporate responsible practice in curriculums, innovative approaches to advancing careers, and best practices on social media. Pointing toward 2024, the conference will conclude with closing remarks on “Defining luxury in an age of responsible practice” in which the relationship of businesses “doing good” versus what consumers genuinely care about will be explored, as will highly valued elements of a concept of luxury that is framed by responsible practice.

Initiatives in Art and Culture is grateful for the generosity of its sponsors, who support continuous education in the gold and diamonds sectors, making it possible for these conversations and solutions to come forth annually. Cruzeiro Mine and the World Gold Council are Patron Level Sponsors, GIA and Sarine are Partner Level Sponsors, MKS PAMP, Newmont, and Platinum Guild International are Donor Level Sponsors, and Hoover & Strong, and Rio Grande are Supporter Level Sponsors. iAC is thankful to Heritage Auctions New York for hosting the opening reception, and is deeply grateful to conference partner CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation.

All members of the jewelry supply chain are encouraged to be a part of this exceptional gathering exploring the marriage of artisanry and artistic vision with innovative practices, sustainable approaches, and responsible sourcing. The conference will be an immersive experience focused on advancing the industry together. To register for “Maintaining Purpose”, click here. To learn more about Initiatives in Art and Culture, visit here, call 646-485-1952, or email info@artinitatives.com.

About Initiatives in Art and Culture

Initiatives in Art and Culture (IAC) educates diverse audiences in visual culture, including the fine and decorative arts. A commitment to authenticity, to artisanry, and to materials undergirds all considerations undertaken by IAC, as does a mindfulness of sustainability and of our obligations to the planet. Each IAC undertaking is marked by a commitment to bringing together representatives from every sector, with thought-leaders from other disciplines, industries, and institutions to undertake cross disciplinary approaches outside conventional industry discourse. IAC’s goal is to initiate dialogue and challenge all to integrate change without fear.

IAC’s primary activities are conferences, webinars, publications, and exhibitions that take an interdisciplinary approach, considering issues related to fabrication, connoisseurship, cultural patrimony and preservation, and the future of culture. Particular areas of emphasis include American art, precious substances, the history of frames, the Arts and Crafts movement, the influence of Asian cultures on American fine and decorative art, and the history and future of fashion. IAC’s projects have been supported by a wide array of individual, corporate, and foundation funders.


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China’s popularity among Arab youths rises as


Chinese tourists pose for photos with staff at Dubai International Airport in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Feb. 6, 2023.(Photo: Xinhua)

Chinese tourists pose for photos with staff at Dubai International Airport in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Feb. 6, 2023.(Photo: Xinhua)

From the top to the grassroots, the Middle East has gradually entered a post-US era, which not only signifies the increasing strategic autonomy of regional countries in political and security affairs, but also indicates the rapid evolution of the regional order, and that a new landscape is gradually taking shape, experts noted as China has reportedly surpassed the US in popularity among Arab youths in this year’s Arab Youth Survey.

The promising prospects and opportunities presented by China’s development, as well as the continuity and stability demonstrated in its domestic and foreign policies, have further strengthened the strategic choice of regional countries in the Middle East to look toward the East. This is particularly attractive among the younger generations, analysts remarked.

China ranked second among all nations considered as friendly, compared with the US, which ranked seventh in the Arab Youth Survey conducted by Dubai-based public relations firm ASDA’A BCW, CNN reported. More than 80 percent of respondents consider China to be an ally of their country, according to the report.

This year’s survey, its 15th edition, included face-to-face interviews with nearly 3,600 residents aged 18 to 24 across 53 cities in 18 Arab countries.

In response to the survey showing an increasing favorability toward China among younger generations in Arab countries, Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said that Chinastand ready to work with Arab countries to continue enhancing youth exchange and cement the public foundation for building a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era.

The trust that the people in the Middle East, especially young people, in China is largely based on the tangible benefits and opportunities brought about by cooperation with China in the region, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Earlier, the 10th Arab-China Business Conference was held in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia, with more than 3,500 Chinese and Arab official and business representatives gathered at the major business conference, in which dozens of deals worth billions of dollars were inked.

“In terms of areas of cooperation covered, this is all-round cooperation,” Liu said, noting that in addition to traditional cooperation in energy, the two sides are also expanding cooperation in more areas such as technology. 

The deals include a $5.6 billion agreement between Saudi Arabia’s Investment Ministry and Chinese carmaker Human Horizons for a joint venture and a $266 million deal signed by Saudi Arabia with Hong Kong-based Android developer Hibobi Technology for tourism and other apps, media reports showed. 

While both China and Arab countries are seeking to further boost win-win cooperation, the US is reportedly concerned about the deepening cooperation between Riyadh and Beijing in security and sensitive high-tech sectors. 

Just days before the Arab-China Business Conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Saudi Arabia. He said that Washington was not asking anyone to choose between the US and China, but said the US “remains the number one partner of choice” for most countries in the Persian Gulf region.

Liu stated that while US officials mostly avoid directly mentioning China, they are actually working to distance China from Arab countries. “Saudi Arabia’s response implies a rejection of Blinken’s statement, which may also reflect the attitude of most countries in the region,” he said.

Behind the US’ zero-sum attempt is also its strategic shift away from the Middle East to major power competition with Russia and China, while trying to cling onto its long-term presence in the Middle East. “The US probably did not expect such a huge change in the Middle East this year, and it also has an unexpected and bewildered feeling about its own decline and the rise of other countries,” the expert noted.

Saudi Arabia and Iran announced the resumption of diplomatic ties with immediate effect in Beijing on April 6 after the first formal meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats in more than seven years.

Analysts noted that China’s successful mediation between the two countries not only shows that that the diplomatic philosophy advocated and practiced by China is being recognized worldwide, but also has significant amplification and spillover effects.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit China next month, according to reports from the Times of Israel, quoting a source as saying that advanced contacts have been held in recent days between the two leaders’ offices to arrange the visit. 

Although neither country has officially confirmed the news yet, reports suggest that Netanyahu will attempt to advance relations with Saudi Arabia with the help of China. However, this move may provoke discontent from Washington, which has been consistently urging normalization of relations between the two countries.

The report quoted senior sources as describing Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to China as “breaking the frame,” as the US has long held an important position in the Middle East, and Israel is one of the most important allies of the US in the region.

Israel’s response can be seen as a continuation of Saudi Arabia and Iran’s announcement of the resumption of diplomatic ties in Beijing. This further indicates that the US is finding it increasingly difficult to exert the same level of dominance in the Middle East as it did in the past. More and more allies and partners of the US in the region are starting to make decisions based on their own national interests, said Tang Zhichao, a Middle East analyst at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In the foreseeable future, the US’ regional influence will continue to decline with the anticipation of a significant decrease in its willingness to engage in diplomatic efforts, intervene in conflicts, and reshape the order in the Middle East. Meanwhile, countries in the region will further explore paths of modernization that align with their national circumstances while balancing globalization and localization, analysts noted. 

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Debate rages on milk benefits as Mamora, NHF urge


Until now, some studies suggest that milk and other dairy products are the top source of saturated fat in the Nigerian diet, contributing to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also linked dairy to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

But former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora and members of the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) have stressed the need for Nigerians to always consume milk, especially heart healthy milk.

Speaking at the 2023 NHF World Milk Day Round Table meeting in Lagos recently, Mamora specifically recalled, in 2001, United Nations through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) established the World Milk Day in recognition of the importance of milk as a global food.

With the theme: “Heart Healthy Milk, Nutritional Foods and Livelihoods,” Mamora added the Day provides an opportunity to provide education on milk and create awareness in creating healthy diets.

Mamora, who is also the immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, said dairy has vital role in global food systems, providing economic, nutritional and social benefits to the population.

He said: “We need to remind ourselves that healthy lifestyle is very critical. We need to be conscious of what we eat. There is need for the production of more milk for consumption and economic growth.” He also called collaboration because government cannot do it alone.

The roundtable meeting was organised by the NHF in collaboration with the FrieslandCampina WAMCO (Three Crowns Milk) to focus on the nutritional and healthy perspective of health friendly milk products.

Several studies had shown that the crucial role of milk is that it provides bioavailable nutrients like vitamins, calcium, and calories. According to the FAO of the United Nations, malnutrition is prevalent in Nigeria because of the low consumption of milk and other dairy products.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends milk consumption of 210 litres per person yearly, while an average Nigerian consumes about eight litres of milk yearly.

Executive Director NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, said milk is food and it should be consumed from womb to adult. “It contains lots of nutrients. Not only that, in the NHF, we are particular about milk that is heart friendly, that contains low fat, low sugar, and low salt.

“We are also advocating investment in dairy farms. Dairy farmers contribute a lot to the development of the country. People in countries that prioritize dairy farming live long.”He said each local council must have a dairy farm, adding if there is a dairy farmer in every local council, many youths and women will be employed and “we are also going to raise children that would be healthy.”

He said NHF is also collaborating with that National Home Grown School Feeding Programe. “We are stressing the need to incorporate heart healthy meal in the nutrition,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NHF assertion on milk is supported by recent studies, which conclude a glass of milk daily can significantly reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease. A new global study found milk drinkers have lower levels of cholesterol, which can block arteries and lead to heart attacks or strokes. Those who drink milk each day slashed their risk of coronary heart disease by 14 per cent, the study authors said in a release.

By studying the health information of two million Britons and Americans, scientists discovered those with a mutation enabling them to consume large amounts of milk were less prone to cardiovascular illnesses.

The new finding comes as a growing body of evidence is showing that dairy products can actually be good for health. Past studies had previously concluded that dairy products were bad.

Meanwhile, some other participants at the event include: Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Consumer Advocacy for Food Safety and Nutrition Initiative (CAFSANI) among others.

Other experts at the meeting include: Chairman, NHF Executive Council, Dr. Olufemi Mobolaji-Lawal; Director, Scientific Affairs, NHF, Prof. Adebayo Adeyemi; President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Prof. Wasiu Afolabi; Chairman NHF Nutrition Committee, Prof. Tola Atinmo; Regional Manager, Choices International Foundation, Dr. Semnen Lambert-Osakwe; Team Lead, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Aisha Digil; researcher at the Department of Animal Science, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Prof. O.A Olorunnisomo; Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Mr. Bode Oluwafemi; and Programme Director, NHF, Dr. Enitan Ademuson.

The World Milk Day Roundtable Programme brought together diverse stakeholders from the dairy industry, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, Federal and State Government, International and National NGOs in cardiovascular health, nutrition and non-communicable diseases to discuss and address key issues surrounding milk production, consumption, benefit and sustainability.

The meeting highlighted the importance of milk as a nutritious food source and its significant role in supporting global health and wellbeing for all ages.

Throughout the roundtable programme, participants engaged in stimulating conversations and knowledge sharing, leading to valuable insights and recommendations. They also acknowledge the immense potential for innovation and collaboration to drive positive change.

One of the key outcomes was recognition of the need for increased cooperation between stakeholders including farmers, researchers, policymakers, and consumers. They said collaborative efforts are crucial to address the complex issues faced by the dairy industry and to develop sustainable practices that promote environmental stewardship, and economic viability.

“In conclusion, the World Milk Day Roundtable Meeting served as a platform for meaningful dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders in the industry. The discussions and outcomes have laid the groundwork for future initiatives aimed at enhancing sustainability, responsible consumption, and addressing the evolving needs of the global milk market. By working together, we can ensure a brighter and more sustainable future for the dairy industry, benefiting both the producers and consumers alike,” Akinroye said.

Indeed, the World Milk Day was established to recognise the importance of milk as a global food, and to celebrate the dairy sector. Each year since, the benefits of milk and dairy products have been actively promoted around the world, including how dairy supports the livelihoods of one billion people.

In 2023, World Milk Day showcased how dairy is reducing its environmental footprint, while also providing nutritious foods and livelihoods. “Together, we drove an active narrative that integrates the environmental, nutritional and societal impacts of the sector,” Akinroye said.

The NHF is a National Charity inaugurated in 1992, with focus on prevention of heart disease, research on cardiovascular diseases, heart health promotion, advocacy and action on heart issues. NHF is affiliated to the World Heart Federation (WHF) in Geneva, Switzerland, and a founding member of the African Heart Network (AHN).

NHF celebrates the yearly World Milk Day in view of the benefits of milk to heart health and nutrition, as we are committed to feeding our population with Heart healthy diets-with low saturated fat, low sugar, low sodium and zero trans fat in the diet.

The World Heart Milk Day is marked every year on June 1, and it provides an opportunity to focus attention on milk, raise awareness of dairy’s part in healthy diet, responsible food production, supporting livelihoods and communities.

The discussions at the roundtable were focused around the following questions: Healthy Food for All- Concept and Implications; NHF Heart Mark Food Labeling Programme and Heart Healthy Milk; Nutrient profile of Milk and Milk products in Nigeria; Nutritious and Healthy Milk for Children: Experience of NHGSFP; Food System and Milk Consumption in Nigeria; Provision of Healthy, nutritious milk for Nigerians: From Grass to Glass; Stakeholders and Promotion of Heart-Healthy Milk in Nigeria; and Sustainability and Dairy Farming and Livelihood in Nigeria.

Akinroye said the objectives of the roundtable include: a critical evaluation of the state of the Nigerian dairy industry; creation of awareness on the importance of heart healthy milk among Nigerians; enhancement of increased incorporation of heart healthy dairy and milk production in the National and State Home Grown and State Feeding Programme (NHGFP/SHGFP).

He said the meeting was one in a series designed to provide stakeholders to engage in discussion on how dairy is reducing its environmental footprint, while also providing nutritious foods and livelihoods. The cardiologist said the goal is to create awareness on the importance of heart healthy milk amongst Nigerians and to enhance the incorporation of ‘Health Healthy Milk’ in the NHGSFP/SHGSFP.

Reacting to the concerns about the health effects of regular milk consumption, Akinroye said: “Milk is beneficial for all age groups because of the rich supply of protein for tissues, development as well as calcium for bone health. Milk represents a world top notch because it helps provide some macro and micronutrient needed for health. It was also included by all stakeholders and consumers on the importance of milk and its inclusion in our diet especially the vulnerable group.

“Additionally, to ensure strict adherence to all safety practices as raw milk is
contaminated hence the great measure of safety. Stakeholders must employ various opportunities, including verifying of milk and its product to ensure maximum use of product delivery of heart healthy milk.

“A healthy food is one that, when ingested, provides the user with a suitable amount of macronutrients to meet their energy and psychological needs without consuming too much, as well as enough micronutrients and fluids to keep them hydrated.

“A healthy diet is one that promotes good health and prevents illness. It offers sufficiency without an excess of nutrients and health-promoting compounds from nourishing foods and forgoes the consumption of harmful compounds.”

The participants remarked that “Health is not found in the hospital, it is found in the kitchen,” implying that one is not merely what they eat, but also what they eat, digest, and absorb.

Additionally, it was stated that some of the difficulties associated with neglect of milk are caused by a lack of knowledge of foods, food handling, food processing, and food digestion and absorption.

Akinroye said the NHF Heart Mark Food Labeling Programme and Heart Healthy Milk (HMFLP) were launched in 2021. He said it is a simple way to guide consumers to select heart healthy options, promote consumer education and build partnership between NAFDAC, NHF and the Food industry.

The cardiologist said the Front Of Pack Labeling (FOPL) division was discussed from the endorsement logos to summary indicator system, nutrient-specific warning labels and nutrient-specific interpretive labels. He said food industries that want NHF to verify their product will have to get assessed by NAFDAC before NHF can work on it and the criteria is reviewed every four years.

He said the NHGSFP School feeding programmes were able to increase school enrollment and attendance and also let them assimilate and learn better. Akinroye said the impacts of the school feeding programme include: improved health and nutrition of households; enhanced equity in access and participation in education, and learning; gender transformation/women empowerment; and improved household food security and reduced poverty.

He said the programme has benefitted 54,000 schools and over 10,000,000 pupils in Nigeria; and some states in Nigeria have included milk in their food menu like Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kebbi and Katsina.

On the challenges in the Nigerian dairy sector, Akinroye said there is huge variation in milk supply across the year and seasons. The variation between high and low seasons can be as large as 80 per cent.

He said there is also unsuitable genetics of local breeds for milk production as well as lack of dairy knowledge and poor farm management skills hindering professionalisation of dairy farming and slowing down economic development of the dairy sector.

Akinroye said there is also lack of milk collection centre infrastructure and processing facilities close to farmers. The participants in a communiqué released at the end of the roundtable meeting adopted next steps to be considered. They include: update and revise National Guidelines for the production and consumption of heart healthy food/milk; promote consumer education to guide consumers’ choice of heart healthy milk options; encourage collaboration with industry to ensure milk is incorporated into their meal; collaboration among stakeholders for research to improve milk products; and promote front of pack labeling and heart healthy mark certification of all milk and dairy products sold and served in Nigeria.

The communiqué also called for funding for the school home grown feeding programme to ensure food rich in milk and milk products are consistently served in all schools; collaborative relationships and sustainable networks for policy formulation, modifications, regulations and guidelines for heart healthy foods and healthy communities in Nigeria; advocacy to government at national and subnational levels on the importance of being involved with dairy farming.

The roundtable meeting also recommended: ensure standardisation of heart healthy foods- milk served in schools under the home grown school feeding programme in Nigeria; collaborative efforts through public – private partnership to develop dairy farms and villages to scale up milk production in the country; capacity development of farmers especially women on Dairy preservation to prevent wastage; promote health and science journalism for the promotion of the production and serving of heart healthy milk products in Nigeria; monitoring and evaluation for continual improvement of production and service of heart healthy milk; and improve national security.

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How the West ‘sanctions’ China


MANY economists these days talk of a process of “de-globalisation” taking place; some others talk of the neoliberal regime of yesteryear no longer existing.

Of course, nothing remains the same forever: as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “you cannot step into the same river twice.” Some change in the neoliberal order is inevitable with the passage of time.

But the real point is: has the analytical frame used for understanding the economic reality of the contemporary world, with a view to changing it, become obsolete and hence in need of serious revision?

“Globalisation,” it must be remembered, never meant different countries of the world coming together voluntarily to set up a global order that would be mutually beneficial.

Nearly 50 countries of the world today are at the receiving end of “sanctions” of various kinds; they are forcibly prevented from accessing essential goods, including in some cases life-saving medicines, from the global market. And the number was not much less a decade ago when “globalisation” was universally recognised as being in full swing.

“Globalisation” thus always meant something quite different from what is commonly ascribed to it. It meant the coming into being of a phase of capitalism where capital, including above all finance, had become globalised by opening up economies for its unrestricted movement; it had thereby curbed the capacity of the nation-state to intervene in ways that finance did not approve; and this globalised capital had enjoyed the backing, in its global operations, of metropolitan states above all, and of other states by default.

These metropolitan states, notably the US, decided on which countries sanctions were to be imposed, with the others falling in line.

“Globalisation” thus represented a reimposition of Western imperialist hegemony on the world as a whole, excluding the socialist countries, but including countries which had been decolonised around the middle of the 20th century and had adopted, even while promoting capitalist development, various kinds of dirigiste strategies — it meant in other words the breaking down of any relative autonomy vis-a-vis imperialism within the non-socialist third world.

As a complement to the unrestricted mobility of capital, “globalisation” had also meant relatively unrestricted movement of goods and services across country borders (barring of course the countries that faced “sanctions.”)

What happened during this period of “globalisation” was that new economic powers emerged, by whom the Western imperialist powers felt threatened.

These included Russia which inherited the massive production base built up by the Soviet Union and which the Western powers thought they had subjugated, until there was a reassertion of its strength after Boris Yeltsin left office; and China, which, while relating to “globalisation” on its own terms rather than those dictated by the Western powers, witnessed rapid rates of growth because, among other factors, of the market access it enjoyed in the metropolitan capitalist world.

Now, Russia has come under “sanctions” after the Ukraine War; and the trade of the Western world with China has declined to an extent, because of a deliberate political effort to scale it down.

Such an effort in the case of the US has been motivated by several factors, from protecting domestic jobs (even though a good deal of imports from China by the US is produced there by US direct foreign investment) to a strong desire not to be too dependent on it — in the case of other metropolitan countries there is the additional factor of US pressure.

Of these factors however the desire not to be too dependent on China has been the far more decisive one.

US concern over rapidly growing imports from China began in the era of George Bush Jr who tried to persuade the Chinese to appreciate the exchange rate of the yuan vis-a-vis the dollar. It continued under Obama who penalised US firms relocating production abroad. But it was Donald Trump who imposed tariffs to protect domestic production against imports from abroad; China was the major target of these tariffs.

Two examples underscore the overwhelmingly political motivation behind the Western scaling down of trade with China.

The European Union has proposed a rule that solar panels which are to be used for the decarbonisation of Europe should not be imported from any country that has more than 65 per cent of the market share; this rule is meant solely to exclude China which has 85 per cent of the market because of the extremely low price of the panels it supplies.

Europe in short is willing to pay a much higher price for solar panels just to keep China out, which is a decision motivated entirely by geopolitical considerations.

Likewise, the Biden administration’s ban on semi-conductor exports to China, which is imposed against corporate wishes within the US itself, and which poses a major threat to the high-tech industries in China, including military technology and artificial intelligence, is motivated exclusively by geopolitical considerations, the sheer desire to keep China economically and technologically crippled.

In other words, even though there are no explicit sanctions against China at the moment, what we are seeing nonetheless is an implicit imposition of sanctions, either in preparation for a time in future when there would be explicit sanctions or out of a sheer desire to cripple China.

What is called “de-globalisation” refers in effect to this entire new tendency of the Western powers to discriminate against China, their desire not to become too dependent on it.

The effort essentially is to diversify trade relations away from China to other countries, even though such diversification turns out to be more expensive; the recent decline in the magnitude of US trade with China is a consequence of this. It is as if China is being added to the list of countries that are subject to Western sanctions.

Interestingly there has been no actual decline in macro-level parameters like the ratio of total world imports to world GDP which some economists have used as proxies for measuring the extent of “globalisation.” What they find through such measures is a slowing down of the progress of “globalisation” but not its reversal.

As we mentioned earlier, however, “globalisation” in our perception refers not so much to the phenomenon of countries becoming more dependent on one another; it refers essentially to a relationship of power.

This power is exercised as much through the “sanctions” imposed against specific countries as through the drawing in of countries to the vortex of “globalisation.”

The exercise of this power is the hallmark of imperialism. “Sanctions” are as much a symptom of the ruthlessness of imperialism as is “globalisation” entailing the hegemony of globalised capital. Put differently, the so-called “de-globalisation” is not a negation of “globalisation” but a complement to it.

Globalised capital comes overwhelmingly from the metropolis and is enmeshed with the operation of metropolitan states. The hegemony of globalised capital therefore is ipso facto the hegemony of metropolitan states, exercised over the people of the world, and especially over the people of the third world.

“Globalisation,” which may have the support of the big bourgeoisie of the third world and even of the upper segments of the salariat and the professional classes, necessarily entails the suppression of third world workers, peasants and petty producers.

The praxis for overcoming their thraldom is no different today from what it was a decade ago. Any improvement in the condition of the working people requires state intervention; for this, the state must have the elbow room to intervene without being cramped by the fear of capital flight. But as long as the country remains trapped within the vortex of unrestricted capital flows, the state cannot acquire this elbow room. Control over capital flows therefore becomes necessary for any progressive state intervention.

Put differently, an improvement in the material condition of the people requires not just a change in the nature of the state, namely, its being based on the support of workers and peasants; it requires in addition a delinking from the universe of unrestricted capital flows.

The support of the working people alone is not enough; control over capital flows is also essential if a set of pro-people policies is to be followed, though such control may well attract imperialist “sanctions.”

This remains as true today as it was a decade ago. The so-called “de-globalisation” that some economists are talking about makes not an iota of difference to this absolute need to confront the hegemony of globalised capital, behind which stand the phalanx of metropolitan states.

This article appeared at peoplesdemocracy.in.

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