Issue

Global Goods, Local Costs

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurant and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Global Goods, Local Costs is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Global Goods, Local Costs

August 23, 2018

The Race for Cobalt

Vivienne Walt, Sebastian Meyer

Vivienne Walt and Sebastian Meyer traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to most of the world's cobalt, to see how huge global demand can be met without rampant child labor and corruption.

December 14, 2017

Venezuela’s New Gold Rush

Bram Ebus, Stefano Wrobleski, Gustavo Faleiros

For many people, gold fires the imagination, but can it resolve a crisis? Venezuela finds itself in distress and is going all-in on gold mining—an industry tainted by conflict.

November 04, 2017

Paradise Papers

Alvaro Ortiz, Rocco Fazzari

ICIJ's global investigation that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

October 13, 2017

What Is Left for Venezuelans?

Lila Franco

Venezuela is facing its biggest crisis yet: a high inflation rate, shortage of food and medicine, and abuse of power by authorities. And that's only part of the picture.

August 29, 2017

Rhinoceros Poaching in South Africa

Kelsey Emery

South African wildlife sits on the brink of disaster as rhinos continue to be poached. With so much at stake, villagers fight to protect the keystone species, resources, and the tourism industry.

No Man's Land

One of Indonesia’s biggest agricultural industries is also one of its filthiest. A visit to the palm-oil plantations and the people whose lives are shaped by this demanding crop.

Meet the Journalist: Lizzie Wade

Lizzie Wade traveled to Colombia to document how the country’s peace deal with FARC, a guerrilla group at war with the Colombia state from 1964 to 2016, is opening up new opportunities for field work.

This Week: Child Labor and Your Smartphone

This week: cobalt mining comes from one of the planet's poorest countries and all too often it is mined by children, skepticism about Kosovo's deradicalization and rehabilitation programs for returning jihadists, and Pulitzer Center welcomes new Executive Editor, Indira Lakshmanan.