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People Fixing the World

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Brilliant solutions to the world’s problems. We meet people with ideas to make the world a better place and investigate whether they work.

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Brilliant solutions to the world’s problems. We meet people with ideas to make the world a better place and investigate whether they work.

iTunes Ratings

140 Ratings
Average Ratings
130
2
3
3
2

Much Needed News!

By Ringo36 - Jan 02 2020
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Amidst a 24/7 cycle of horrible news comes "People Fixing the World." It highlights how often ordinary people around the world are responding to common problems that we can all learn from. More than merely feel-good news, the podcast analyzes the approach, challenges, and degree of success. Sometimes they have time to explore more than one approach. I love the global canvas, which is a wonderful reminder that no one country, region or culture has all the answers. The caring humanism and enthusiasm of the hosts are also appreciated. Great job, BBC World Service!

Insightful

By Theresa B Sayers - Oct 26 2017
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I like that this show has several different view points. Worth the listen.

iTunes Ratings

140 Ratings
Average Ratings
130
2
3
3
2

Much Needed News!

By Ringo36 - Jan 02 2020
Read more
Amidst a 24/7 cycle of horrible news comes "People Fixing the World." It highlights how often ordinary people around the world are responding to common problems that we can all learn from. More than merely feel-good news, the podcast analyzes the approach, challenges, and degree of success. Sometimes they have time to explore more than one approach. I love the global canvas, which is a wonderful reminder that no one country, region or culture has all the answers. The caring humanism and enthusiasm of the hosts are also appreciated. Great job, BBC World Service!

Insightful

By Theresa B Sayers - Oct 26 2017
Read more
I like that this show has several different view points. Worth the listen.
Cover image of People Fixing the World

People Fixing the World

Latest release on Jun 02, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 1 day ago

Rank #1: The reuse and refill revolution

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Should we reuse and refill plastic packaging to limit the amount being thrown away? Nick Holland looks at different ways people are trying to make this happen. One idea is to take used containers back to the supermarkets where, in the future, giant vending machines could refill them.
But the scale of the challenge is huge and getting consumers to change their shopping habits will be hard.

Presenter: Tom Colls
Producer and Reporter: Nick Holland

(Photo Credit: BBC)

Apr 23 2019

23mins

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Rank #2: The Town Trying to Cure Loneliness

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Loneliness and isolation can trigger a host of other problems, particularly for our health. But a town in Somerset, in the United Kingdom, appears to have taken a big step towards alleviating the problem. A team in Frome has implemented a handful of simple ideas – getting people to talk about the problems they face and finding ways for them to re-engage with family, friends or social clubs – and they believe it is having a dramatic effect. The cost of emergency admissions in Frome has fallen steeply, while it rises across most of the UK. We visit the town to meet the ‘connectors’ driving the project, and the people they have helped.
Reporter: Sam Judah

Presenter: Nick Holland
Photo caption: Susan Redding

Photo credit: BBC

Apr 10 2018

23mins

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Rank #3: Does Universal Basic Income Work?

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Around the world, governments and researchers are experimenting with the introduction of universal basic income. From Finland and Spain to India, the idea of giving every citizen – whether working or not – a set amount of money per month is gaining momentum. It’s claimed to be a fairer and more efficient way of running a welfare system, but we’re only just starting to understand what actually happens when you introduce a basic income for everyone. We look at the evidence and try to establish whether it is an idea whose time has come.
Presenter: Mukul Devichand

Reporter: Sam Judah

Producer: Jo Mathys
Image: An Indian man counts currency / Credit: Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty Images

Aug 08 2017

23mins

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Rank #4: The farmers moving their fields indoors

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We visit farmers growing lettuce, herbs and strawberries indoors in the middle of cities. The plants are stacked up on shelves in vertical farms that use hydroponics and aeroponics to cultivate them.

The idea is to grow food closer to where it’s eaten. At the moment, cities get most of their produce delivered from far away, but transporting it uses energy, while fruit and veg can lose their freshness in transit.

We visit two European companies hoping to change the supply chain. One makes indoor farming units for food retailers, restaurants and hotels, and the other grows strawberries in shipping containers on the outskirts of Paris.

We find out if these pioneers of European urban farming are able to feed our growing cities.

Produced and presented by Dina Newman.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Apr 21 2020

23mins

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Rank #5: The miracle cure: Exercise

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If exercise were a drug, almost every single person on Earth would be prescribed it in the later years of their lives. The health benefits for older people are massive – it can help reduce the risk of dementia, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, depression, heart disease and more.

But not enough older people are getting the benefits of this “miracle cure” – as the UK and Ireland’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges describe it. They are living out their retirements suffering from chronic illnesses, while health services struggle with the costs of looking after an aging population.

Where there’s a problem, though, People Fixing the World finds a solution. Around the world, imaginative projects are springing up to try to get older people exercising. We hear from veteran cheerleaders in South Korea, walking footballers in the UK and the mayor giving out free gym vouchers in Finland.

Reporters: Tom Colls, Olivia Lang and Erika Benke

(Photo Caption: An older person exercising / Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Feb 04 2020

24mins

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Rank #6: How to save the banana

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Bananas are one of the most popular fruits on the planet - more than 100 million tonnes of them are eaten every year. But on banana plantations on four continents, a deadly fungus is creeping through the soil and destroying the plants.

Some say the end is nigh for the banana. But from Australia to Colombia and from the Philippines to the Netherlands, work is going on to stop that happening.

We meet the farmers, scientists and gene technologists trying to find a way to save the fruit.

Reporter: Daniel Gordon

(Photo Credit: BBC)

Nov 05 2019

23mins

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Rank #7: Improvising Your Way Out of Anxiety

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You’re standing on a stage, blinded by a spotlight trained on your face, knees weak, hands sweaty. Someone from the audience calls out a random word and you have to immediately react and come up with an amusing sketch or skit. This is improv, the unscripted theatre form that seems like it would cause rather than cure anxiety. But across North America people with the mental health condition are signing up for special “Improv for Anxiety” courses where the techniques and practices of the stage art are used to boost confidence.
Producer: Harriet Noble

Presenter: Tom Colls

Photo Credit: BBC

Feb 13 2018

22mins

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Rank #8: The Hydroponics Revolution

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Providing food for seven billion people is fraught with difficulty. Fertilising vast tracts of land and flying fresh vegetables across the globe comes at a huge environmental cost. But more and more people are turning to hydroponics - growing plants in water, without any soil. The idea itself is hundreds of years old, but new twists on the old technique are now shaping the future of food. We investigate some of the most innovative hydroponics projects, from the refugees growing barley for their goats in the Algerian desert to the underground farm built in an abandoned London bomb shelter. But how efficient can the process become? Can hydroponics begin to offer a serious alternative to conventional farming?
Producer: Sam Judah

Presenter: Harriet Noble

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Feb 06 2018

23mins

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Rank #9: Problem-Solving Prizes

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People can’t resist a prize, especially when there’s money to go with a medal, and for hundreds of years that basic human urge has been used to push humanity forward. When you focus minds and money towards a simple target, incredible things can happen - from the clock that won the Longitude prize money in the 1700s to the spacecraft that won the XPRIZE in 2004. Are there any problems that a big enough prize cannot solve?
Producer & Reporter: William Kremer
Photo Caption: Pilot Mike Melvill standing on Space Ship One, which went on to win the Ansari XPRIZE

Photo Credit: Getty Images

This programme uses a sound effect created by Freesound user bone666138
Correction: Since our interview with Marcus Shingles was recorded, he has stepped down as CEO of XPrize

Apr 17 2018

23mins

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Rank #10: The pharmacists fighting high drug prices

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If you had a rare disease and the only drug that could help you suddenly shot up in price how would you feel? What if your health service or insurer decided it was too expensive and they wouldn’t fund it any more? This is the problem facing some patients in the Netherlands.

In order to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in developing drugs for rare diseases, the EU allows them to have a 10-year monopoly. The number of these drugs has risen as a result, but the way the rules are written has created a problem. Pharma companies have been able to re-register old drugs that were used for other diseases and then, with their legal monopoly, raise the price significantly.

While some countries might accept the price rise, the Netherlands hasn’t, and small-scale pharmacists there are stepping in. They’re making small quantities of some of the drugs themselves and giving them to patients, at a fraction of the cost.

People Fixing the World hears from the patients, pharmacists and big pharma companies who are trying to find a way forward.

Reporter: Charlotte Horn

(Photo Credit: Marleen Kemper)

Jan 07 2020

23mins

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Rank #11: How Iceland Saved Its Teenagers

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In 1998, 42% of Iceland’s 15 and 16 year-olds reported that they had got drunk in the past 30 days. By 2016, though, this figure had fallen to just 5% and drug use and smoking had also sharply declined. The action plan that led to this dramatic success is sometimes called “the Icelandic Model” – and strikingly, it does not focus on tighter policing or awareness campaigns to warn children off bad habits. Instead, top researchers collaborate closely with communities on initiatives like parental pledges and night-time patrols after dark, while the government invests in recreational facilities. But is being a teenager in Iceland still fun?
Presenter: Harriet Noble

Reporter: William Kremer
Image: Icelandic teenagers / Credit: BBC

Nov 14 2017

23mins

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Rank #12: The future of freight

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Billions of tonnes of goods are moved by lorry every year – everything from food and clothes to building materials, electronic gadgets and toys.

Most heavy-duty vehicles run on diesel and they account for a quarter of the EU’s CO2 emissions from road transport. But making eco-friendly lorries and trucks is challenging. Big vehicles need big batteries, which currently take too long to charge and take up too much room.

So Germany is trying out a few alternatives. The eHighway system enables lorries to connect to overhead electricity cables, just like trams and trains. And while lorries are connected, smaller on-board batteries could be charged up too to power the final leg of a journey.

The country is also investing in another technology: hydrogen. Fuel cells convert the gas into electricity and the only emissions from these vehicles are water vapour and warm air. Seventy-five hydrogen fuel pumps have already opened across the country.

Reporter: William Kremer

Oct 29 2019

24mins

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Rank #13: Could a device invented in the 1930s help end period poverty?

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Period poverty affects girls and women across the world who can’t afford to buy sanitary pads or tampons each month. So what are the alternatives? We look at two very different solutions.

In a refugee camp in Jordan, we follow one woman as she tries to get a sanitary pad micro-factory off the ground.
While in Malawi, they’re handing out menstrual cups to teenagers - which last for 10 years and don’t produce any waste.

Presenter: Vibeke Venema
Producer: Tom Colls

(Photo Caption: A menstrual cup / Photo Credit: Getty Images)

May 07 2019

22mins

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Rank #14: The great mosquito swap

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Every year, it’s estimated that nearly 400 million people around the world are infected with dengue fever, a potentially fatal illness that’s passed on by mosquitoes.

No vaccine is effective at preventing people catching the disease, but what if the mosquitoes themselves were treated to stop them spreading it?

In one city that is severely affected – Medellin in Colombia — an ambitious project is underway to swap wild mosquitoes for a variety that is identical in every way, but with one crucial difference. These mosquitoes have been bred from specimens injected with bacteria that make it impossible to transmit not just dengue, but also the Zika and chikungunya viruses, and Yellow Fever.

Buoyed by successful projects in Australia, the World Mosquito Program is releasing millions of newly-minted mosquitoes across Medellin, in the hope that they will replace the wild population.

And to reassure the public, schoolchildren are being taught to love mosquitoes, and even to breed them — a message that contradicts what they’ve been brought up to believe.
Presenter: Tom Colls
Reporter / Producer: William Kremer

(Photo Caption: The Aedes Aegyptii Mosquito / Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Apr 09 2019

23mins

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Rank #15: DNA tests for dogs to tackle problem poo

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The average dog produces about 124kg of poo every year, but not all of that gets picked up and disposed of properly.

So people living in many residential blocks in the US have had their dogs’ DNA registered on a database, in an attempt to tackle problem poo. If they don’t pick up after their dog, a sample of what’s left behind is sent off to a lab so the perpetrator can be identified.

The company behind the tests says it works well in private, gated communities but what about public parks and pavements?

Could other solutions, such as offering rewards for picking up poo, or posting dog mess backs to the owners, work in the long term?

And we hear how Ontario in Canada is collecting dog poo to turn it into energy.

Presenter: Kat Hawkins
Reporters: Ros Tamblyn and Claire Bates

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Apr 16 2019

22mins

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Rank #16: The Schools Trying to Build Bridges

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Could bilingual schools help bring peace to a seemingly intractable conflict? In Israel, the school you’ll go to is largely decided before you’re even born – by whether you come from a Jewish or Arab family. Communities learn separately and live separately and that, many argue, cements the hostility and misunderstanding of generations. So is the solution to bring them side-by-side? Hand in Hand is a network of integrated schools across Israel where Jewish and Arab students are taught together in Hebrew and Arabic.

As part of the BBC’s Crossing Divides season, World Hacks visits one of the schools to see how well this model works and whether it really has a lasting impact.
Producer: Harriet Noble
Picture Credit: BBC

Apr 24 2018

23mins

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Rank #17: Can We Save Coral?

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Up to 90% of the world’s coral could be dead by 2050, according to some estimates, unless we take radical action.
Tackling climate change remains the central battle, but around the world scientists are working on projects that may give coral a greater chance of survival, or at least buy it some time.
The World Hacks team investigates ‘super coral’ in Hawaii, an innovative insurance policy in Cancun, Mexico and a highly controversial plan to geo-engineer clouds above the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Can any of these schemes transform the fortune of this endangered ecosystem?
Presenter: Sofia Bettiza

Reporter: Sam Judah

Jan 09 2018

22mins

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Rank #18: Saving the World’s Ice

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Global warming is melting the world's glaciers and sea ice. In Iceland the effects can already be seen - people there recently held a funeral to mark the death of the Okjokull glacier.
So scientists and engineers around the world are trying to come up with ideas to cool the planet and stop the ice from melting.
One wants to spray sea water into clouds to make them whiter so they reflect more of the sun’s rays back up. Another plan is to make sea ice more reflective by spreading layers of tiny silica beads on it.
Others are devising massive geoengineering projects, such as building giant sun shades in the sky and walls around sea ice to stop warm water wearing it away.
But sceptics warn that projects like these are too expensive and are a distraction from the cause of the problem - and we should be focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions instead.
Producer Hannah McNeish

Photo: Getty Images

Nov 26 2019

23mins

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Rank #19: The Currency Based on Good Deeds

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By its very nature, volunteering means you don’t get paid. But what if there was a way to compensate volunteers that also helped the local economy? The northern English city of Hull is trying an experiment with a new, local cryptocurrency called HullCoin - the first of its kind in the world. It’s a sort of community loyalty scheme, that can only be earned by doing ‘good deeds’ and can only be redeemed in local businesses. But can it really improve the economic resilience of struggling industrial cities? World Hacks has been to Hull to find out.
Presenter: Dougal Shaw

Reporter: Elizabeth Davies

Photo Credit: BBC

Jan 30 2018

23mins

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Rank #20: Turning old clothes into new ones

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It’s estimated that 400 billion square metres of fabric are made every year – enough to cover Germany – for the fashion industry. The sector produces a similar amount of greenhouse gases to the international airline and shipping industries combined.

The two most-used materials are cotton and polyester. Growing cotton requires a vast amount of land and water, and often chemicals too. Polyester is a by-product of the oil industry which has a massive environmental impact.

But after clothing has been used, just 1% of it is recycled in a way that means it can be turned into other clothes. Much of what’s left ends up in landfill or is burned.

What if that were to change and new clothes could easily be made out of old ones?
Companies across the world are trying to “close the loop” in the fashion industry, developing chemical processes to turn used fabric back into materials that can be used again.

Sweden’s Re:newcell is transforming old cotton into useable material, while the UK’s Worn Again has come up with a process to enable the re-use of blended textiles.

But are these processes viable? Will turning old pants into new shirts save the planet – or is the solution something much deeper?

Presenter: Nick Holland
Producer: Jamie Ryan

(Photo Caption: Clothes at a textile sorting depot / Photo Credit: BBC)

Feb 26 2019

24mins

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