The Agenda Podcast with Stephen Cole is a weekly podcast looking beyond the headlines and accepted wisdom to find the real story.Hosted by award-winning journalist and presenter Stephen Cole, the show quite simply sets the agenda. You won't find the same old talking heads recycling platitudes, instead, The Agenda Podcast brings you thought-provoking guests who debate and explore key issues in today's world.
Episode 56: Travel and Leisure
Before the pandemic, tourism was growing faster than the world's economy and traveling had never been easier. Then COVID-19 brought globetrotting to a halt and left the trillion-dollar industry in tatters.
But with rapid vaccination bringing optimism, can the sector now get back on the move? How different will the travel experience be? And which parts of the world are open for business?
First on the podcast we talk to Eduardo Santander, CEO of the European Travel Commission. He explains why his organization is optimistic about the European summer and why it could be make or break for the travel industry [00:36].
Next we talk to Angela Gerekou, president of the Greek National Tourism Organization. She tells Stephen Cole how every effort is being made to prepare and how she wants the country to be a global center of sustainable tourism by 2030 [06:50].
Another restless sector is the hotel industry. Travel restrictions wiped out more than $138bn in turnover, ending a decade of growth. Rocco Forte, chairman of the luxury chain Rocco Forte Hotels, explains how he plans to battle the ‘Zoom boom’ and bring back leisure and corporate customers [13:08].
The airline industry has far from escaped the turbulent times of the past 16 months, losing $126 billion in 2020, with a further $47 billion loss expected this year. Despite this, Bjorn Tore Larsen has founded a new airline, Norse Atlantic Airways, and explains why he's pinning his hopes and money on a great travel take-off by the end of 2021 [18:25].
Episode 55: The Electric Car
Is the world ready for electric cars on a large scale? The Agenda Podcast finds out whether Europe – and remote parts of the world – are prepared for such an accelerated change to the way we travel.
First on the podcast is Bjorn Annwall, head of Volvo's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region and newly-appointed Chief Financial Officer. He tells us how the Swedish car manufacturer plans to make electric-only vehicles by its 2030 deadline and talks about the challenge of convincing EV-hesitant consumers [00:40].
Jaap Burger is Senior Advisor to the Regulatory Assistance Project, which works to advance the transition towards clean and reliable energy sources and explains that the rate of growth for the electric car industry is reliant on sufficient investment in infrastructure [08:37].
Finally we talk to Gerard Barron, the CEO and Chairman of DeepGreen (soon to be known as The Metals Company) which recovers these metals from the ocean floor instead of on land. He believes there are enough on the seabed to power a global electric transport system [14:41].
Episode 54: The first 100 days of Brexit
Since January 1, the UK has been trading under new systems agreed in the post-Brexit trade deal. So what problems have the first 100 days exposed for the UK and Europe?
Agenda is joined by the CEO of Eurochambres, Ben Butters, and the head of international affairs for small businesses, James Sibley. They discuss the impact of Brexit on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the continent and try to dissect how much of the 40% decrease in trade across the channel is down to Brexit teething problems and how much is down to the ongoing pandemic. [00:44].
We also talk to Amelia Hadfield, head of politics at the University of Surrey, and Karel Lannoo, CEO of the Centre for European Policy Studies, about the future of the European Union [11:32].
Episode 53: The Vaccine Rift
Questions over efficacy, blood-clot fears, threats to block exports, and its sluggish supply – the distribution of vaccines has been causing a major division across Europe, particularly between the EU and the UK.
This week on the Agenda Podcast we look at how the two blocs have approached the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and how today's disputes could affect the vaccine procurement of tomorrow and beyond.
With France and Germany both having witnessed vaccine hesitation within their populations, we ask Pieter Cleppe, editor-in-chief of Brussels Report, about why that might be – as well as whether Brexit is to blame for a seemingly cold reception towards the UK's AstraZeneca jab [02:34].
We also speak to Lawrence Young, virologist and specialist in molecular oncology at the University of Warwick. He explains how damaging vaccine nationalism can be to fighting COVID-19 [10:24].
Finally we also speak to David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project. He explains what he thinks the EU must do to emerge from the vaccine setback with strength and stability going forward [12.42].
Episode 52: The Future of Work
For more than a year now, millions of people have been forced out of their offices by the pandemic to work from home. But is that a situation that's here to stay or a temporary blip – an "aberration," as Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has put it?
The Agenda Podcast with Stephen Cole considers the future of work, and asks what are the real benefits and potential pitfalls of a post-pandemic return to the office?
First we talk to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. She explains how employers can ensure that their employees remain productive with a flexible work schedule [00:42].
Then Heejung Chung from the University of Kent's school of social policy, sociology and social research explains how there could be real benefits to the new working normal, especially in bridging the gender pay and opportunities gap [06:17].
On the downside, Yasuhiro Kotera, academic lead in counselling, psychotherapy and psychology at the University of Derby explains why many employees have struggled with working from home and what companies can do to make things easier for their employees. He also highlights the intangible benefits of working in an office and the value for both employers and employees in heading into a designated workplace [11:34].
Finally we are joined by Mathieu Proust, the general manager for the UK, Ireland and emerging markets at WeWork who enthuses on how short-term leases and shared workspaces could be the way of the future [18:12].
Episode 51: Cryptocurrency
As a relatively new invention, cryptocurrencies have up to now largely escaped regulation.
But if they're ever to really cross over into the mainstream that will have to change. So what rules are actually needed? How might they be enforced? And how exactly might that shape the future of digital currencies?
Today on the Agenda Podcast, we look at what could be the future of money. First we’re joined by Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at stockbroker AJ Bell. Khalaf explains why investors should be wary of heading into cryptocurrencies [00:39].
We also speak to Zhou Yong, assistant general manager of XW Bank, who explains how China has adapted to digital currencies and why it’s well-poised to take a leading role in the cryptocurrency market [08:11].
Finally we talk to Iwa Salami, a senior lecturer in financial law and regulation at the University of East London, and Gavin Brown, associate professor in financial technology at the University of Liverpool. They explain why governments may want to regulate the cryptocurrency and why that would be a difficult task to carry out [13:56].