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Good morning, this is Pip. Today, we’re hearing the UN’s latest forecasts for the situation in Yemen, as the long-running conflict continues to deteriorate. Thousands more Yemenis will die if the war persists beyond 2021, according to the UNDP, but there is hope for recovery if a ceasefire is reached.

We’re also covering why diversity is key to making food systems resilient, and looking ahead to what’s set to be a crazy week crammed with conferences for International Geneva.

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Pip Cook


On our radar

Photo article

A displaced Yemeni man walks past makeshift tents in a camp for displaced people in the province of Hajjah, Yemen, March 2012. (Keystone/EPA/STR)

🇾🇪 Yemen recovery possible if ceasefire is reached. According to the UNDP, Yemen’s seven-year conflict will have claimed 377,000 lives by the end of 2021. Nearly 60 per cent of deaths will have been caused by indirect impacts such as lack of access to safe water, hunger and disease, while fighting will have directly killed over 150,000 people. Already one of the poorest countries in the world, the war has reversed Yemen’s development by over two decades, with over 15 million people living in extreme poverty. However, the UNDP forecasts the country could reverse development losses providing peace is achieved by January 2022.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Here’s what else is happening

Image of the day

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Delegates take part in a conference on the CTBT treaty at the United Nations headquarters in New York, November 2001. (Keystone/AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

World at ‘critical point’ for eliminating nuclear tests. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) – the international agreement that outlaws nuclear test explosions – turned 25 this year, marking its official birthday in September. Signed by 185 countries and ratified by 170, the treaty has brought down nuclear tests from over 2000 before 1996 to less than a dozen since it was created. However, the treaty has yet to enter into force due to eight crucial nations so far refusing to ratify it, including China, Iran and the United States. “We have the tools in place to end nuclear tests everywhere, by everyone, and for all time,” Robert Floyd, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday. “I know that we can achieve a world free of nuclear testing because failure to do so is not an option.”

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Science and diplomacy reads by GESDA

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A recent study recorded from many points along implanted electrodes (white dots) to associate brain activity with a person’s mood and find optimal settings for a brain stimulation device (gray lines). (Credit: Raissa Mathura)

Might deep brain stimulation (DBS) be used to counteract depression? While DBS is now in use to treat epilepsy, obsessive compulsive and movement disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease), this idea was raised about 20 years ago, with great hopes, as the pioneer of this field, Helen Mayberg, told me in 2013 in an interview, for fighting depression. But, as often in science, these shimmering hopes have at first not been fully fulfilled by two clinical trials, reported in 2015 and 2017.

But wait: “Long-term follow-up of participants has revived some optimism. For example, many people in [one of the two] trials improved over one year or more – beyond the timeline of the initial study”, explains an article in Science (read below). And “last month, a follow-up study of eight trial patients, most of whom continue to use their implant about 10 years later, showed that about one-half have had at least a 50 per cent improvement over their pre-treatment score on a depression scale”.

This example shows that hopes in science, while not being confirmed at first, can sometimes entail some idea worth pursuing. Now, many scientists groups, including Mayberg’s, are trying to target other areas of the brain, with promising first hints.

But Mayberg, cautions - as she already did in the 2013 interview – that “to be used widely in the clinic, DBS will also have to be cost effective and simple enough that your average, competent neurosurgeon and depression expert can … implement it.” This is not to say that, eight years later, scientists haven’t made any progress. But to insist in saying that there is no use in overselling too early a possible therapy: “I would not like to see the image of our careful and systematic research ruined because unscrupulous researchers engage in baseless empirical experiments”, she already told me at the time. Let’s respect that, and let’s give appropriate time to science so that, maybe, probably, one day the many patients suffering from depression and eager to have a treatment at their disposal will be pleased.

Olivier Dessibourg, GEDSA


Next generation of deep brain stimulation aims to tackle depression. Case studies spotlight personalised approaches to tweaking brain circuits.

Science (EN)

The World Ahead 2022: What next? 22 emerging technologies to watch in 2022.

The Economist (EN)

The chase for fusion energy. An emerging industry promises to have commercial reactors ready in the next decade.

Nature (EN)

CRISPR and the climate: how gene editing can help cut emissions

Foreign Affairs (EN)

Anti-satellite weapons: Will further tests make space more dangerous?

NewScientist (EN)

Learn from machine learning: Our world is a black box, predictable but not understandable


How AI and other digital advancements are improving healthcare in the world’s poorest regions: a special report.

The Financial Times (EN)

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This selection is proposed by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator GESDA, working on anticipating cutting-edge science and technological advances to develop innovative and inclusive solutions for the benefit of the planet and its inhabitants.

GS news is a new media project covering the world of international cooperation and development. Don’t hesitate to forward our newsletter!

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