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Executive Director Inger Andersen, CS of Environment Keriako Tobiko & UNEA President Espen Barth Eide

UNEA president Espen Barth Eide (third from left) finalized the resolution using a gavel made from recycled plastic.Cyril Villemain/UNEP

Countries agree to end plastic pollution

Leaders of 175 nations have agreed to forge a treaty to tackle plastic pollution. Delegates rose in a standing ovation yesterday as the resolution was adopted at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Kenya. A negotiating committee will spend the next two years hammering out the final deal. Crucially, the treaty will be legally binding and will address the full life cycle of plastics. Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme, called the agreement the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris climate accord in 2015. “We now have one text. It speaks to full life cycle; it speaks to legally binding; it speaks to a financing mechanism; it speaks to understanding some countries can do it more easily than others,” says Anderson. “It has been a long, hard road, but I’m very happy.”

New Scientist | 4 min read

Reference: Full text of the adopted resolution

Strike deadlock at Nigerian universities

Teaching and research are at a standstill across Nigeria’s public universities as thousands of academics are in the middle of a one-month strike over pay and lack of funding for research infrastructure. Nature spoke to Oyewale Tomori, virologist, fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science and chair of the government’s COVID-19 advisory committee about the wider impact on research in Nigeria and the world. “Our government doesn’t seem to care about science and research or about fulfilling its promises,” says Tomori. “I fear that things will get worse. To expect any change immediately is a dream.”

Nature | 4 min read

‘I thought I had forgotten this horror’

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches its one-week mark, Ukrainian researchers have described to Nature how they and their colleagues have had to abandon research to take up arms, support their students and simply survive. Economist Illya Khadzhynov is vice-rector for scientific work at Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University, which in 2014 relocated owing to conflict in the disputed Donbas region. “It’s the second time in my life this is happening,” says Khadzhynov. “I thought I had forgotten all this horror. Unfortunately, it is repeated.”

Nature | 5 min read

Australia’s east coast hit with record rainfall

In the last week of February, the east coast of Australia was pounded with record-breaking rains, which have caused severe flooding, killed eight people and left more than 50,000 homes without power. The region was already seeing heavy rain because of the La Niña weather cycle. Now, a slow-moving low-pressure system has dragged more moist air from the Coral Sea into the region. “Because it’s so slow-moving — it’s basically stationary — it’s dumping all the water that it has on the same area,” says Nina Ridder, who studies extreme precipitation. Researchers say climate change probably has a contributing role: warmer atmospheres can hold more moisture.

New Scientist | 4 min read

Features & opinion

p53: meet the anticancer protein

The tumour-suppressing protein p53 acts as the guardian of the genome by providing important protection against cancer — when it is active, that is. Many malignant cells exhibit p53 dysfunction, and several clinical trials of agents intended to restore p53 to working order are now underway.

Nature video | 3 min watch

This video is part of an editorially independent supplement produced with the financial support of Boehringer Ingelheim.

Refocus stimulus on reducing emissions

The 20 largest economies spent at least US$14 trillion on pandemic economic recovery packages, some of which was committed to climate action — including ‘green new deals’ and ‘building back better’. So far, those promises have not been met, say three researchers who analysed the spending. Only 6% of total stimulus spending (or about $860 billion) has been allocated to areas that will cut greenhouse-gas emissions. That’s proportionately less than the green investments that followed previous recessions. “It is not too late to change course,” write Jonas Nahm, Scot Miller and Johannes Urpelainen. There are hopeful signs from the United States and China. And regions such as the European Union and South Korea show how money should be invested.

Nature | 11 min read


“Indiana Jones is a really good example: one of his catchphrases was ‘this belongs in a museum’ — but what he means is his museum, not a museum in the country he’s collecting the thing from.”

Some palaeontology practices can exploit countries for their fossil heritage and devalue the contributions of local researchers, says palaeobiologist Emma Dunne. (The Guardian | 4 min read)Reference: Royal Society Open Science paper