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This category is for selected guest blogs written by students on the City, University of London Writing for Business shortcourse.

Growing trees in Africa? Local solutions are best

[About the author: Tony Mulvahil is a project manager who enjoys writing. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for a Business short course in April-July 2019. Tony wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Feeling lost amongst the noise of climate disaster stories? These charities focus on making an extraordinary difference to local people.

Your social media feed pops up another horror story of a forest fire consuming a vast tract of pristine forest. Or a monstrous cyclone drowning an entire city. You feel a rising sense of fear and panic combined with despair that nothing you do will solve this man-made climate disaster.

Yet, hidden away from view are many organisations working with local people who are on the battlefront of the climate crisis. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), not to be confused with the UN Environment organisation, focuses on addressing drought and soil degradation. The UNCCD supplies resources and action plans aiming to halt the loss of productive land.

On their website, the UNCCD provides extracts titled Actions Around the World. These tell the stories of the many small groups of people making a tremendous contribution to their local area. The UNCCD highlights how women are taking an increasingly significant role in setting up groups that tackle climate change by giving them the authority to decide their priorities. Tree Aid establishes enterprise groups in countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali, and this activity helps women improve their lives. Over in Kenya’s Mau Forest, Green Grants supports the Indigenous Information Network enabling local women to reclaim degraded land.

Separately, the Forest Peoples charity supports indigenous forest people to continue living in their traditional homes by working with them to tackle the political challenges these people face.

People Change: Wondering how to save the planet? Avoid these 7 deadly emissions

[About the author: Darren Wimhurst is an operations manager and writer. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course in January-March 2019. Darren wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Lord knows; I’m a sinner. But I can’t say I’ve been involved in anything deadly before.

Is it that bad? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in October 2018 that human activities have caused 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. If this figure rises above 1.5C we face a number of apocalyptic scenarios.

How do we avoid said apocalypse? “We need to cut CO2 emissions almost in half (45%) by the end of the next decade,” says Kimberly Nicholas, associate professor at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) in Sweden. Emissions need to be net zero by 2050.

Are world leaders directing the response? The UN sponsored the IPCC report but their remit extends to strongly worded recommendations. Responsibility lies with individual countries and after decades of negotiation on climate change there has been no slowing of the rising global carbon curve. To confirm: no change whatsoever.

So it’s down to us. Below, are the seven emissions we need to eliminate or significantly reduce.


FRTB: I am become death, destroyer of desks

[About the author: Satinder (Sid) Jandu is an industry expert/public speaker on risk. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course in January-March 2019. Sid wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

The power struggle of regulators vs banks as god and man

Bang! The financial crisis of 2008 sent atomic shock waves across every corner of the world. Established pillars of finance which stood like Solomon’s temple, too big to fail, were rocked to the core. The relationship of god and man, regulator and bank, had changed forever.

The authority of god/regulator was reasserted through Basel III:

“…an internationally agreed set of measures developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in response to the financial crisis of 2007-09. The measures aim to strengthen the regulation, supervision and risk management of banks.” https://www.bis.org/bcbs/basel3.htm


After initially focusing on credit risk, the primary driver of the financial crisis, regulators turned to the final piece of the jigsaw, market risk. They set about conducting a Fundamental Review of the Trading Book, known as FRTB.

FRTB, or its real name “Minimum Capital Requirements for Market Risk”, is a global financial regulation that affects every bank in the world. https://www.bis.org/bcbs/publ/d457.pdf

This short blog examines whether regulators have gone too far and the struggle of banks to meet shareholder demands versus regulator demands.


The Application of Blockchain Technology Beyond the Financial Services Industry

[About the author: Dawit Meskel is an IT architect. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course in Oct-Dec 2018, and wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Blockchain is a hot topic particularly in financial services as a disruptive technology, but will it fade away in the near future or revolutionise the sector, as seen by many who compare it to the internet age?

Blockchain technology has been around for a while now, nearly ten years, and the technology continues to mature at a phenomenal pace. The disruptive nature of blockchain has been recognised in the financial sector for some time; its first significant application is bitcoin, a crypto-currency that is not issued or backed by a central bank, but rather by consensus among a network of users described as ‘miners’.

Bitcoin was created as a medium of exchange to replace money, but blockchain is also making a substantial impact on other industries as we mature into a new digital age. The uses of the technology are now growing at a faster rate than anyone could imagine. Here are some examples which illustrate the possible use of blockchain technology in different industries:

  • Identity management to securely manage identity for persons and devices;
  • 2nd generation blockchains allow programs called smart contracts to run on the blockchain, enabling automated contractual agreement between persons or devices;
  • Documenting, tracking and verifying the authenticity of goods as they move through the supply chain industry.

These examples are the tip of the iceberg for what this technology is going to achieve in the coming years.