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The Real Story

BBC World Service

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.


United Kingdom


Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.




Generation Covid?

Young people may not be the most exposed to the health risks during the global coronavirus pandemic, but right around the world they will pay a high price in lost wages, opportunities and greater public debt - much of which they’ll have to service. Generations are forged through common experiences, and the bigger the shock of Covid-19 to the global economy, the greater the likelihood that it will become a defining event for Millennials, Generation Z and the next generation of young children....


How will Covid-19 change our cities?

So far, people in cities have borne the brunt of Covid-19. Coronavirus thrives when humans interact in shared spaces where infections are easily transmitted. Because of this, many column inches have been dedicated to predicting the demise of urban living and a revival of suburbs, towns and villages. But the fact remains the majority of us live in urban settings and people will need to keep seeking out the economic and social opportunities that cities provide. So, if cities are here to stay,...


Is this the internet we always wanted?

The internet has proven invaluable during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing us to continue to work and learn from home, disseminating information to concerned citizens and providing desperately needed social contact for those cut off from family and friends. Before the pandemic, it seemed the internet was increasingly becoming an angry and cold place, providing a platform for selfish pursuits and amplifying extreme views and behaviour. That still goes on, of course, but is the pivot to more...


Racial justice: Who are the allies?

Black protesters across the United States and the world have been joined by white people calling for lasting change in the way societies deal with systemic racism. But this isn’t the first time a cross-section of society has voiced its desire for radical action on race. In most instances calls for revolution die down and the moment brings only incremental change. So what else can history teach us? South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up after the fall of apartheid in...


What should black Americans do next?

The death of the African-American man, George Floyd, in police custody - and the subsequent protests and riots - will look familiar to anyone who’s followed American history. This week also marked the 99th anniversary of an incident known as the ‘Tulsa Race Massacre’, in which a white mob killed hundreds of black people in a part of the Oklahoma city referred to as the ‘Black Wall Street’. Decades later, Congress passed civil rights legislation, and in 2008 the United States elected its...


The privatisation of space travel

On Saturday a private company will attempt to deliver astronauts into orbit for the first time - with the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station. Other big space projects planned by private companies include tourism, commercial space stations, a return to the Moon, habitats on Mars and even the mining of asteroids. National space agencies may partner with the private sector to reduce short-term costs and spread risks, but what will be the long-term impact...


Covid-19: Balancing risk and staying human

Many governments are beginning to ease restrictions placed on us aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus. Until a vaccine is widely available, the fear of contracting Covid-19 and becoming seriously ill as a result, will remain a very real one. And as more schools, shops and workplaces begin to re-open, we’re all increasingly going to have to make decisions about the amount of risk we’re willing to take. Our fear of threats and the unknown is part of being human. But so too is our...


Will the pandemic benefit mobsters?

The normal functioning of societies has been strained by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing curbs on our freedom of movement, commerce, trade and employment. So what impact has Covid-19 had on organised crime? In some communities, gangs have stepped in to provide food, medication and other emergency assistance to families struggling to make ends meet. Money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, says the pandemic has resulted in an increase in...


Coronavirus: Will flying ever be the same?

Most industries around the world have been shaken by the coronavirus, but few have been quite as devastated as the airline industry. IATA, which represents about 290 airlines around the world, says the airline industry could lose $314bn due to the outbreak, as planes are grounded and entire routes abandoned. Aviation employs millions of people and underpins the livelihoods of tens of millions more. So can it recover? Past crises like the 9/11 terror attacks transformed the flying experience...


Coronavirus: Is mass surveillance here to stay?

Governments everywhere are increasing mass surveillance as part of efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Whether it’s a smartphone app that traces who you’ve been in contact with, public sensors that can tell if you’re running a temperature, or cameras equipped with facial recognition technology capable of instantaneously identifying you while walking down the street. In China, drones are being deployed to help police public spaces, while colour codes are used to determine who’s...


Coronavirus: Will China come out on top?

China was first country to suffer the effects of Coronavirus, but a few months on, it has contained the worst of the outbreak in a way the United States and most European countries have not. The Chinese economy is bracing for the first year on year economic decline for more than forty years, but western countries are projected to fare even worse. Before the pandemic, the US-China trade war had already amplified rivalries between the world’s two biggest economies, so will Covid-19 accelerate...


Coronavirus: Ending the lockdowns

Billions of people across the globe are currently under some form of government-mandated lockdown. The aim is to curb the spread of the coronavirus and prevent health systems from being overrun. But forcing people to stay at home for weeks or months on end is resulting in unprecedented economic shocks to societies around the world. With unemployment figures accelerating, so too is the debate about how and when to end the lockdowns. Several reports have concluded that social distancing...


Coronavirus: Is Africa ready?

The Coronavirus pandemic has not yet impacted Africa as much as other parts of the world. But the situation might be hitting a dangerous turning point. Infection rates in some West African countries are rising quickly and this week the number of Covid-19 cases on the continent surpassed 10 thousand. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has described Coronavirus as an 'existential threat' and senior UN official this week warned of the 'complete collapse of economies and livelihoods' across Africa if the...


Coronavirus: How robust is our food chain?

Panic buying of food has become a feature of the Covid-19 outbreak around the world, stripping supermarket shelves of some items and prompting limits on the number of products customers are allowed to buy. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation says there could be global food shortages within weeks due to lockdowns and disruptions in areas like shipping and logistics. Governments across the planet have been keen to stress there is enough food to go around and they say supply chains are...


Coronavirus: How will it change us?

The number of people ill and dying from Covid-19 is increasing globally, and whole national economies are grinding to a halt. We are living through a time of great insecurity and uncertainty in which many people will experience suffering and loss. But could the coronavirus outbreak provide humanity with new perspectives? Our politicians are being held accountable in real time in a way that hasn’t happened in decades - their decisions measured in days, not years and not easily spun. As daily...


Coronavirus: The economic crisis

People around the world are facing severe economic problems because of the coronavirus.. The global shutdown has sent stock prices plunging as workers and customers stay at home. The world’s governments are having to mount an economic response unimaginable just weeks ago. The US has promised close to a trillion dollars of stimulus money. In Europe - the French government is adding a fifty billion dollar economic aid package to the three hundred and thirty billion dollars of loan guarantees...


Beating coronavirus: What will you sacrifice?

Across the globe, authorities are taking unprecedented steps to curb the spread of coronavirus - as well as the increased levels of public fear and anxiety that accompany it. But do our views on the place of individual freedom and the role of the government in society help dictate how effective those measures will be? As rationing, quarantines and travel restrictions become more common place, there’s growing concern that some countries will struggle to control the actions of their citizens....


What’s the Democrats' best plan to beat Trump?

After the results of the Super Tuesday primaries in the United States, two candidates have emerged as front-runners in the battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination - Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. But which vision for the future of the party will be the one more likely to deliver electoral success across the nation? One that aims to reach out to swing voters and Republicans, or one that energises the base of the party and attempts to bring new people to the polls? Is history...


Was it a mistake to overthrow Gaddafi?

In 2011, a Nato-led coalition intervened with lethal air power to aide forces taking part in an uprising against Libya’s brutal military leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Shortly after, Col Gaddafi was caught and killed by rebels and there were high hopes the country would become a safer and more open place. But since then, fighting between militias has destroyed much of Libya and two rival governments now vie for full control of the country. As talks take place at the UN in Geneva this week...


Who controls the River Nile?

This week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Ethiopia, just months before the planned partial opening of a controversial new dam project that Egypt says will harm tens-of-millions living along the River Nile. Construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia began in 2011 and is expected to start generating electricity within months. But Ethiopia has yet to agree with nearby Egypt how quickly the dam’s reservoir should be filled (the faster the process happens, the less water...