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Policy Recommendation to Reduce Nitrate Pollution of Water Bodies in Germany

Origin of the Problem 

Farmland is a private good in Germany, owned and cultivated by roughly 374,000 agricultural businesses (Federal Ministry of Food 2010). Participating in a market economy, each of these businesses tries to maximise their profitability. Profitability in agriculture is mostly determined by the crop output per cultivated area (crop yield), which leads the market players to constantly seek out technology that increases productivity (Tongeren 2013). If the additional revenue from applying a certain technology exceeds its investment costs, farmers will adopt it. A central nutrient to increase crop productivity is Nitrogen, which is one of the core ingredients of fertilizer (Tongeren 2013). Organic fertilizers (such as liquid manure) are available at very low costs in Germany due to the extensive livestock population. If overall demand for liquid manure is low, livestock farmers will even give it away free of charge (Matheis 2014). This encourages farmers to apply large amounts of organic fertilizers to their farmland in order to guarantee a maximal crop yield. However, the practise only achieves minor productivity improvements as the relationship between nitrogen availability and crop productivity can be described as logarithmic: Productivity growth declines with increasing availability of Nitrogen (Leghari et al. 2016). Additionally, the practise causes substantial portions of fertilizer (and nitrogen) to spill over into the environment (Deutsche Welle 2018). 

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The Uighur Crackdown: Why Beijing’s hard-line approach is counterproductive

Historical Background 

The Xinjiang region of China has always had a distinct cultural, ethnic, and religious identity. The region feels much closer to its Central Asian neighbours than it does to the rest of China. Since its incorporation around the mid-18th century, Xinjiang has been a challenging region for the central government to administrate. Most regions in China are predominantly Han Chinese. By contrast, more than half of Xinjiang’s population of 24 million consists of Turkic Muslims. Additionally, Xinjiang covers a geographical area larger than California and Texas combined, shares borders with eight countries, and sits around 2000km away from Beijing. Xinjiang’s distinct culture, vast size and remote location have rendered it particularly vulnerable to external influences; prior rebellions continue to loom large in the minds of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials today.

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European Affairs and Energy & Environment Visit the EU in Brussels

On 29 January, members of the King’s Think Tank European Affairs and Energy and Environment policy centres, and one of the Head Editors visited the European Union institutions in Brussels. Mere hours away from the final vote on the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement from the EU, the visit was one of anticipation, uncertainty, and excitement. Upon arrival in Brussels, we split into two groups: the Energy and Environment policy centre visited the European Parliament, and the European Affairs policy centre first visited the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and then the Parliament, before reconvening in the afternoon at the European Commission and experiencing the unexpected opportunity to witness the aforementioned vote. Below, the two groups detail their visits.

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Perceptions and Realities of Migrants in Southern Italy

Migration has become a highly debated and fairly misunderstood topic in contemporary politics. While taking part in the European ARISE project (Analysing Refugee Inclusion in Southern Europe) in Southern Italy, I met Hamady, a migrant from Senegal. Whilst telling me about his own perspective on migration, he explained that if you have not ‘witnessed it’ you are unable to fully comprehend it. This is why he believes in the importance of recounting his own experience to sensitise the general public on the issue. ‘It is part of the integration process’, he says. 

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Climate Migration: an unnamed disaster

On 14 March 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated 90 percent of the city of Beira in Mozambique. The major humanitarian crisis that ensued has affected anywhere between 1.85 and 3 million people and displaced approximately 146,000 people within Mozambique’s territory, as citizens sought to escape the floods and fled homes that were reduced to debris. As the consequences of climate change accelerate, the pressing issue of climate migration calls for urgent intervention. 

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Tackling the University Mental Health Problem

Lately, issues surrounding mental health have taken centre stage in our society. The efforts of NGOs, healthcare services, and government bodies have made a significant impact by sensitising people’s perception of  this topic. Yet, despite this increased coverage and seemingly positive steps towards dispelling stigma and taking preventative action, poor mental health and suicide has become an ever-mounting crisis. Universities and higher education colleges in particular have faced pressure to make drastic changes after figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a doubling in the number of student suicides –  52 in 2000/1 to 95 in 2016/17. In total, approximately 1,330 higher education students took their lives within this period, of which 686 (66%) were male and 452 (34%) were female. Across the UK, many universities are struggling to provide adequate mental health support, with demand for services increasing 50% over the last 5 years as more and more students are presenting symptoms of high levels of stress and anxiety. To tackle this silent epidemic, more focus needs to be placed on preventative measures such as early intervention and the promotion of healthy thoughts and behaviours.

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Burden-sharing: EU Solidarity at Stake– Insight into the Case Studies of Italy and Romania

According to the Geneva Convention, the EU is responsible for people who need international protection. The Dublin Regulation, which is part of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), establishes that the first country a refugee enters is responsible for processing his or her asylum application. This system has proven problematic over recent years. Since the European refugee crisis reached its peak in 2015, the necessity of reforming the Dublin Regulation in the spirit of burden-sharing has become clearer than ever. Burden-sharing involves states taking on responsibility for refugees of other states. For example, countries facing less immigration pressure, such as Romania and Poland, would accept a certain quota of asylum-seekers from countries that receive the most migrants, such as Italy and Greece. 

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Fighting Fake News Without Destroying Freedom of Speech – Lessons from Singapore

Introduction

Fake news dissemination is the plague of modern society. It interferes with elections, raises fears and inflames conflicts. There is no doubt that society should adopt measures to mitigate the damaging effects of its spread. Many countries have attempted to address the issue of online disinformation; however, it appears that policymakers are failing to adequately confront this challenge. Most anti-fake news laws are assailed as forms of censorship that attempt to suppress opposition. Is it possible to create anti-fake news legislation without infringing upon freedom of speech? 

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Event Review: Life at the Edge of Nations: Hong Kong, Kashmir, Catalonia

On 14 November, King’s Think Tank’s Defence and Diplomacy Policy Centre hosted a panel discussion on the topic ‘Life at the Edge on Nations: Hong Kong, Kashmir, Catalonia’. The main aim of the event was to create an interactive space for students and expert speakers to discuss the factors which influence the rise of secessionist movements and the identity crises faced by minorities within a region. With a diverse set of panel speakers, the event addressed different secessionist struggles around the globe and identified differences and similarities among various separatist movements. 

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A Struggling Sudanese Economy – Rooted in British Colonisation?

The last few months have witnessed a social media storm expressing outrage against the violence and killings of protesters who rebelled against the Sudanese government. ‘Blue for Sudan’ was adopted by many social media users, and many changed their profile pictures to blue in solidarity for Mohamed Mattar, a protestor killed in the June 3rd Massacre. The events occurring in Sudan have shocked the world and have since been condemned by Western nations.

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