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Global Sand and Gravel Extraction Conflicts with the UN’s SDGs

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Global Sand and Gravel Extraction Conflicts with Half of UN Sustainable Development Goals by Eurasia Review of , is an eye-opener at this conjecture of these ingredients that we take for granted in all our developments.
Sand and aggregates together with water form the backbone of the modern world but increasing urbanisation due to a growing global population has led to a spiralling rise in their extraction, with serious environmental, political and social consequences.

The above image is for illustrative purposes and is of EcoWatch.

A view of ‘The World Island’ development seen from the air in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

Global Sand And Gravel Extraction Conflicts With Half Of UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sand and gravel are the most mined materials in the world, with between 32 and 50 billion tonnes extracted globally each year. They are being extracted faster than they can be replaced. But according to a new study led by researchers at McGill University and the University of Copenhagen, the human and environmental costs of this extraction on lower and middle-income countries have been largely overlooked.

“With this work we’re able to show that in low- and middle-income countries, sand industry is in direct conflict with almost half of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” said Mette Bendixen an assistant professor in the department of Geography at McGill University and one of the lead authors of the work, which was published recently in One Earth. “The impact that sand and gravel mining have on the environment, conflicts with goals linked to the natural dynamics of ecosystems. Furthermore, pollution, health-related issues and the informal nature of many mining activities creates societal inequalities negatively affecting small scale miners and their families.”

Increasing demand and market prices are leading to unsustainable exploitation, planning and trade. Removal of sand from rivers and beaches has far-reaching impacts on ecology, infrastructure, national economies, and the livelihoods of the 3 billion people who live along the worlds’ river corridors. Unregulated sand mining has been documented in 70 countries across the globe, with associated conflicts related to ecological destruction, livelihood disruption and labour rights violations. Battles over sand have reportedly killed hundreds in recent years, including local citizens, police officers and government officials.

Opportunity as well as destruction

But the researchers also suggest that, if it is well managed, the mining of these resources also potentially offers certain opportunities to meet some of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also point out that these resources have the potential to help drive socio-economic development to advance some of the UN’s SDGs, such as eliminating poverty. For example, sand and gravel provide labour for millions of people, they supply material for the renewable energy sector and for roads and infrastructure in general.

“Sand resources, when managed appropriately, can create jobs, develop skills usable in other sectors of the economy and spur innovation and investment, whilst continuing to underpin the infrastructure upon which modern society is founded.” argues Lars L. Iversen, an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate research who was a lead author in the study. “Therefore, the solution is not to simply ban all mining activities. Finding the balance between the pros and cons of sand and gravel extraction is becoming one of the great resource challenges of our century.”

We need to build effective management plans and policies for sand resources that support the global sustainable development goals,” says Mette Bendixen “In order to do so a more complete understanding of the impact of sand and gravel mining is required. This need is especially acute for many countries in low- and middle- income regions that currently possess no overview of the extent of local mining activities, or how such activities are impacting ecosystems and local communities.”

Quick facts

  • A large proportion of the increase in aggregate (a collective term for sand, gravel, and crushed stone) consumption has occurred in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries.
     
  • For cement alone, a proxy for aggregate usage, China’s demand has increased exponentially by 438% over the past 20 years, compared with an increase of 60% in the rest of the world.
     
  • While current global aggregate consumption of 32-50 billion tonnes per year is dominated by consumption from high (per capita) production sources in North America and China, the greatest relative increase in production is projected to occur in LMICs (lower and middle-income countries).
     
  • Aggregate mining in LMICs is often executed informally by artisanal small-scale miners providing an essential source of livelihood for many people worldwide.
     
  • Violence can also increase alongside mining. In India, the mining of sand, in particular, has been associated with local conflict linked to water access and pollution.

Key combination for corporates targeting successful sustainability

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Arabian Business posted DeBacker’s thoughts on how the Key combination for corporates targeting successful sustainability breakthroughs are the one and only remaining way out of today’s traumatic times. Here they are.

Key combination for corporates targeting successful sustainability breakthroughs

Through the convergence of technology, capital, and scale-up capabilities, industry incumbents can translate their sustainability visions to reality – ushering in a new chapter of green finance practicality

Philippe DeBacker, managing partner, global practice leader Financial Services, at Arthur D. Little.

As corporates navigate persisting economic difficulties, unlocking growth and creating strategic advantages represents an entirely different sustainability challenge.

While transformational change has traditionally been hindered due to funding restrictions and expensive innovation projects, a new approach can now be pursued with the post-pandemic era approaching.

Through the convergence of technology, capital, and scale-up capabilities, industry incumbents can translate their sustainability visions to reality – ushering in a new chapter of green finance practicality.

Although this scenario may have seemed improbable not long ago, several trends have simultaneously transpired to lay the foundations for green financing breakthroughs.

Governments are engaging in heightened regulatory activity to build resilient economies and investors are prepared to pursue higher-risk green initiatives. Industrial companies are also introducing corporates to potential green technologies, while collaboration activities are broadening ecosystems via new players, partners, and opportunities.

Crucially, this applies to the Middle East, where the required framework and levers for green finance can benefit the wider corporate community and region exponentially. Green financing for sustainability projects increased by 38 percent to reach $6.4 billion in H1 2021 alone, while green finance is projected to create $2 trillion in economic growth and over one million new jobs by 2030.

These statistics certainly highlight the potential accompanying the green finance segment – and there are various innovative green asset and technology financing options available for interested parties to explore. Besides investment funds, project financing, and debt or equity investments, experts and commercial banks can facilitate technology deployments and green project acceleration through several green funding areas.

As corporates strive to achieve transformational change by acquiring capital, harnessing technology, and successful scaling their capabilities, they can do so backed by the following:

  • Sustainable bonds: Climate bonds are viable for mature investors seeking to introduce climate change solutions and projects, increasing available funding for green initiatives while providing positive sustainability benefits. Blue loans can also raise finance for projects within the blue economy, while ESG-linked finance is available and not linked to specific use cases.
  • Asset recycling platforms: As demonstrated courses of action from capital-intensive clean infrastructure, there are multiple asset recycling platform choices for corporates. Capital recycling designates funds toward greener projects, ‘farm down’ entails equity stakes being sold progressively, yield companies produce cash flow and returns through long-term contracts, and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) raise funding for capital-intensive startups – including $80bn in 2020.
  • Technology financing: Corporates exploring development expenditure (DEVEX) financing can utilise several sources depending on project technology readiness levels (TRLs). These include public funds for early investment and support, government-backed venture funds to complement private venture capital, and SPACs for sizeable technology funding.
  • Asset management: As Shariah investing emerged a decade ago as a desirable asset class, green financing is increasingly attractive capital with promising returns due the the profound change in economic make up, such as electric vehicles promising to overtake carbon fueled cars.

Admittedly, green financing options are bound by demands, aspirations, and conditions per each individual corporate, with eventualities dependent on specific factors. That being said, every corporate seeking sustainability finance can do so having taken note of similar instances in other sectors. In line with this, there are four actions one can take to help drive success:

Create a sustainable ecosystem

With an array of green technology ecosystems continuously welcoming partners specialising in different industries and technologies, corporates should prioritise developing and forming a sustainable ecosystem. This ecosystem should comprise technology, scale, and capital, which will be central to investment objectives coming to fruition.

While large companies already tend to be involved in multiple ecosystems, realising aspirations and achieving maximum value for many others hinges on proactive action in this direction.

Establish a comprehensive business model

No matter their readiness level, all corporates should pursue projects knowing that their assets or technologies becoming commodities starts and ends with a robust business model. Particularly during early development phases, models often have discrepancies in terms of clarity and direction. Therefore, corporates should define the value they are striving to build, identify the most prudent way to create cash flow, and decide where ownership and control will rest.

Deliver on priorities and objectives strategically

For businesses, executing every element of their business model requires a strategic approach. Whether this is done internally, via an external collaborator, or combining the two, successfully meeting targets and progressing requires a strategic roadmap that includes stakeholder alignment and ambition-timeframe balance.

Adapt the corporate governance model

From board to ethical investing, the corporate world is rethinking the way it creates value and governs itself. New oversight committees are formed in global complex companies to ensure consistency across multiple business lines and geographies – and this is something corporates should also pursue.

Backed by the most suitable innovative financing option, corporates have an opportunity to embrace the support available to them and make continuous strides towards sustainable growth breakthroughs.

The above steps will guide companies on their innovation journeys, with technology, capital, and scale-up capabilities simultaneously driving project success and green growth.

Philippe DeBacker, managing partner, global practice leader Financial Services, at Arthur D. Little.

A stadium that is the first built in World Cup history meant to be torn down

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Posted by Zeena Saifi, CNN on 18 July 2021, is the story of Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud stadium that is the first built-in World Cup history meant to be torn down after the games. Would the same authorities, at this conjecture, have second thoughts?

Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud stadium is the first built in World Cup history that was meant to be torn down  after the games

It was once a quiet waterfront, only enjoying the occasional sounds from the nearby Gulf shores. Now, it’s a dizzying burst of color and life — soon to be filled with up to 40,000 screaming fans.

It is Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud stadium — the first built in World Cup history that was meant to be torn down.

Molded out of 974 shipping containers atop Doha’s port, the Ras Abu Aboud will host seven matches up to the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup.

All the containers are made from recycled steel, and the number — 974 — symbolizes Qatar’s dialing code.

It’s both a symbol of the country’s sustainability pledge and a reflection of its identity.

After the tournament is over, many parts of the arena — including all the removable seats, containers and even the roof — will be dismantled and repurposed for use in other sporting or non-sporting events, either inside or outside of Qatar.

“The 40,000-seater venue can be dismantled in full and transported to be built again in a different country; or you could build two 20,000-seater venues,” Mohammed Al Atwan, project manager for Ras Abu Aboud told CNN.

“Really, all parts can be donated to countries in need of sporting infrastructure. This is the beauty of the stadium — the legacy opportunities are endless.”

Along with the opportunities he says it offers, Qatar is hoping the stadium will be a trailblazer for future football tournaments.

Sustainability challenge

FIFA report in June estimated the 2022 World Cup to produce up to 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, that’s 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 more than the 2018 tournament in Russia created.

Nonetheless, the Gulf state is committed to delivering a carbon-neutral World Cup through offsetting emissions — before, during and after the event.

Organizers have promised sustainable building methods during the construction of the tournament’s infrastructure, such as the Ras Abu Abboud stadium, adding that they have procured “building materials that maximize resource efficiency and reduce emissions, waste and impacts on biodiversity.”

The SC says it is committed to keeping sustainability a main focus throughout the tournament — an example of this is planting trees and plants around the World Cup’s infrastructure to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

The onus, however, isn’t just on the organizers. Qatar says it will give recommendations to attendees and participants of the tournament on how they can reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, including from travel, accommodation and food and beverage.

Once the spectacle is over, Qatar says it will offset any emissions generated during the tournament through building two mega solar power plants over the following 10-15 years, and by proactively supporting sustainable and low-carbon events in Qatar and the region

The reusability of the stadium’s parts is a reflection of that effort.

“Sustainability and legacy have always been at the forefront of Qatar’s planning and preparations for the World Cup,’ said Al Atwan.

When coming up with the stadium’s design, Al Atwan said movability was the main consideration for choosing shipping containers as the building blocks.

Containers are designed to be transported, either by air or sea, but when joined together to form a whole, they transform into a sturdy structure.

That ended up reducing the waste created on site during construction, says Al Atwan, adding that the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium has set a benchmark for sustainable and green mega-sporting event infrastructure.

Unlike the other seven Qatar 2022 venues, Ras Abu Aboud’s temporary nature meant that fewer building materials were required, keeping construction costs down and shortening the time needed to complete it.

Construction on the 4.8 million square feet (450,000 square meters) site commenced in late 2017 and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year, according to organizers.

Cooling sea breeze

When a fan steps outside Ras Abu Aboud, they’re met by Doha’s West Bay skyline. So when the sun goes down, a symphony of color — exchanged between the shimmering skyscrapers on one side and the stadium on the other — reflects off the shores and lights up the city.

And that proximity to the water doesn’t only offer attractive views.

All of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums are equipped with highly efficient cooling systems that maintain a comfortable atmosphere regardless of the hot temperatures outside.

But Ras Abu Aboud doesn’t need one because it gets a natural cool breeze from the sea nearby.

“Post-2022, the redevelopment of the site could take many forms and its legacy plans are still being finalized. It could be redeveloped into a public green space or used for a mix of commercial and residential projects,” said Al Atwan.

“It’s prime location means it’s suited to many projects and has an exciting future,” he added.

That future is not only physical, Al Atawan tells CNN. “Mega-sporting events like the FIFA World Cup have the power to inspire, prompt innovation and push existing boundaries to achieve new levels of success.”

Read: World Cup 2022: Qatar is ready as it strongly contests accusations of workers’ rights abuses

A ‘value proposition framework’ for sustainable development

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It’s all about Value. It’s the name of the game. Create it economically; capture it distinctively. So, a ‘value proposition framework’ for sustainable development is put forward here by Green Biz authors.

A ‘value proposition framework’ for sustainable development

By Neil Hawkins & Laura Asiala

Whatever theoretical economic framework (such as game theory or decision analysis) or business model you want to select, value is at the heart of it. Individuals, organizations businesses and governments act to increase value — also referred to as utility — from their perspectives.

We believe this is a key to understanding the actions of various stakeholders in sustainable development, developing new strategies for making sustainability progress and, most important, for building effective collaborations across and between stakeholders upon which real sustainability rests and relies. 

Collaboration requires a desire for shared value — finding the commonalities in seeking defined outcomes, then working together to increase utility or value propositions for all involved stakeholders. Not everyone needs to like each other or agree on every outcome to build effective collaborations, but they also can’t be at odds. This requires all parties to understand perspectives and find the common ground.

Businesses — with their human, financial and capital wealth — represent an enormous (or potentially enormous) powerful force when it comes to sustainable development. Therefore, we think it critical to understand the value propositions that all businesses face — both danger and opportunity — in terms of sustainability. In the long run, their viability and success also depend upon it.Collaboration requires a desire for shared value — finding the commonalities in seeking defined outcomes, then working together to increase utility or value propositions for all involved stakeholders.

All companies have in common five primary value propositions, although not everyone regards them as a set. Each has a direct connection to sustainability:

  1. Profit
  2. Revenue
  3. Talent
  4. Capital
  5. Collaboration

Growing the bottom line: Profit

It’s the bottom line — revenues minus the costs — that still makes the ultimate business case.

It’s also one of the easiest cases to make for sustainability. A company can increase its profit directly by reducing costs, and for many companies, energy, water and waste costs can be significant.

Reducing these through focused measurement, process improvement and/or specific projects can directly improve the bottom line while also improving the sustainability of the overall enterprise. It is where many companies start their sustainability engagement and with good reason: The economics can be enormous.

Dow Inc., in its first set of 10-year sustainability goals, returned $4 billion to the company on a $1 billion investment in projects. Energy reduction also reduces costs and carbon emissions. Reducing its environmental “footprint” is also often the most immediate way for a company to build credibility for its sustainability efforts. Companies that talk a good game about sustainability but don’t take meaningful action to reduce their own footprint lose credibility and reputation, which hurts them in markets for products and services, talent and investment. 

Growing the top line: Revenue

Revenues grow through increasing market share or successful development of new products and services in response to society’s needs and desires, and it’s clear that sustainability trends have become big drivers.

Tesla is one example of visionary and bold investment in a single, although major, sustainability driver: electrification of mobility. Tesla has been very successful in this regard, but looking across all auto companies, you see the accelerating interest — and new product announcements — to capitalize on this incredibly important driver. (It will be interesting to see if GM and Ford can make the transition to become leaders in the future of electric mobility; we like their chances).

In the water area, companies such as EcoLab have built entire platforms around the management of water, cleaning water and recycling of water. The list goes on, but the key principle here is to identify the trends, invest in R&D and new products and processes, and ride the wave all the way to successful business growth.

Attracting, developing and retaining top talent

Employees are the core of any successful company. Top talent is drawn to — and kept in — companies that are successful in developing and implementing the kind of proactive sustainability strategies for their companies that make a material and purposeful difference.

Very few top students want to join a company whose activities are viewed as making climate change worse or polluting rivers and oceans or harming biodiversity and nature. Sustainability is the new “table stakes” for attracting top talent today.

When Neil was CSO at Dow, Dow attracted thousands of new employees in China from top universities with a “Green Jobs” program where recruits could join Dow to have real sustainability impact in applying their degrees (and Dow’s retention rates for these students was much higher than peer companies). When Laura was director of communication/citizenship at Dow Corning, top students didn’t wait for on-campus recruiting. When the company launched its first Citizen Service Corps, students started calling the company’s media center.

Look at any companies on campus these days and you will see that their efforts in sustainability are featured prominently. What is more interesting is the importance of sustainability to developing and retaining top leadership talent.

Like a customer you don’t want to lose, retaining the most valuable employees is critical. The drivers for hiring new talent are really the same as “rehiring” current employees. Dow very successfully used sustainability experiences — special projects, in-field assignments, academies and simulations — to develop leadership and strategy skills, while integrating sustainability across the company. Many of these future leaders remained because of the skills that Dow invested in for them in sustainability.

Attracting and retaining investors

All companies require capital. And the pace of acceleration for consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors has increased significantly. Virtually no company can survive and thrive anymore with its investor base without addressing sustainability concerns as an enterprise.

Dow started third-party verified Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting more than 15 years ago, and it learned and grew along the way; it worked with other reporting programs such as CDP as well. In 2020, Dow was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI) by S&P Global, the 21st year Dow has achieved this prestigious ranking due to its comprehensive sustainability programs. Dow became much more involved more than five years ago after the Paris climate talks when Michael Bloomberg and Mark Carney appointed Neil (then Dow’s CSO) to join the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, part of the Financial Stability Board.

Dow helped establish the reporting criteria, but beyond that, the experience provided Dow real learning and insight into where banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, bond underwriters and investors were headed. All companies today need to pay careful attention because investors are paying careful attention. One has only to read BlackRock CEO Lawrence Fink’s growing expectations in his annual letter or observe ExxonMobil’s abrupt board member changes to see that the term “activist investor” has been redefined. Times have changed.

Collaborating for mutual success while addressing key challenges

Finding safe places to collaborate to create the healthy ecosystems in which enterprise thrives is critical: supply chains, marketplaces, workforces, communities, industries — no company goes it alone.

Finding safe places to collaborate is neither easy nor simple. Competitors have antitrust concerns. Customers and suppliers have adversarial positions relative to costs. NGOs often have adversarial advocacy positions to individual companies or to whole industry sectors, and governments view their roles as to regulate and tax companies.

All of that adversarial energy can be put to better use if the focus is on more narrow objectives, especially those that involve sustainable development of regions, countries and the world as a whole. There is usually widespread agreement that we cannot regulate or litigate to stop negative trends in nature, public health, social equity and ecosystems, and that if we work together we can accelerate progress. But to do that requires a maturity of perspective on the part of stakeholders that we can agree to disagree on many things, but still find common ground to solve more narrow challenges.Adversarial energy can be put to better use if the focus is on more narrow objectives, especially those that involve sustainable development of regions, countries and the world as a whole.

The collaboration between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Dow, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is one such example. Finding ways to incorporate the value of nature inside the company to better inform strategic decisions was of interest to Dow, and TNC was interested in preserving nature. Both saw that valuing the services of nature would help them to meet their respective goals, and they could collaborate with integrity. It set a new standard and example for collaboration, which continues to benefit both organizations, serve as an example to companies and organizations across industries, and preserve and enhance nature, using the power of capital in a way that no mere philanthropic strategy ever could. 

When Dow worked with the University of Michigan to establish the Dow Graduate Sustainability Fellows more than a decade ago, significant faculty concerns were raised about their independence and intellectual academic freedom. Together, the company and the university put in place safeguards in response to those concerns, and hundreds of Dow Sustainability Fellows have benefitted, as have the University and those communities whose projects were addressed and implemented.

Neither example would have occurred without a strong platform for collaborating on sustainability challenges. These collaborations have helped Dow advance its business strategies and helped it learn and grow, positioning the company for future success. At the same time, these stakeholders also thrived. Win-win.

Value propositions for corporate sustainability

What company does not want top- and bottom-line growth? What company does not want top talent in their sector? What company does not want access to capital that is lower cost and more plentiful? And what company does not need platforms to collaborate with their value chain, in their communities and with their governments?

This five-part value proposition framework holds that promise for companies. Nothing short of their survival and growth is at stake today.

But we also believe that the other major stakeholder groups can benefit from understanding this framework for companies, by surfacing new ideas and creating proposals for collaboration that are more sophisticated in understanding the aspirations of their prospective company partners. At the end of the day, we all want to drive more sustainable action and bringing all stakeholders into collaborations will help us accelerate progress. Show comments for this story. 

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan

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A story by Bea Mitchell on blooloop of 15 Jun 2021 illustrates well the ambitions of those countries around the Red Sea in terms of diversified economic development. It is about the Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan. The employment of Jordanian people will obviously improve as of this summer. But not only; here is the story.

The picture above is for illustration and is of Mashable ME.

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, the first world-class water park in Aqaba and the largest in Jordan, is scheduled to open on July 3.  

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark in Jordan features more than 25 rides, slides and experiences across more than 28,500 square metres. It opens in Aqaba on July 3.

The water park’s rides and attractions are inspired by Jordan’s iconic landmarks, including Dead Sea Drop, Wadi Rum Race and Aqua Jerash.

Dead Sea Drop guests will take a vertical plunge, while Wadi Rum Race is a competitive multi-racer. Aqua Jerash features play attractions for young guests, including slides, waterfalls and rotating water jets.

“We are excited to announce that Saraya Aqaba Waterpark will be the first of its kind waterpark in Aqaba and the largest in the kingdom,” said Chris Van Der Merwe, general manager of Saraya Aqaba Waterpark.

25 rides, slides and experiences

“At Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, guests from Jordan and around the world are in for an aquatic adventure like no other with slides, rides and experiences suitable for guests of all ages.

“The water park has been carefully designed with families in mind and as such guests can expect a family-friendly environment, both in and out of the water.

“We are looking forward to welcoming you at Saraya Aqaba Waterpark for unforgettable memories that will last for a lifetime,” added Van Der Merwe.

Also opening at the water park is the Rose City Diner, alongside refreshment kiosks around the park serving snacks, ice cream and drinks. The attraction’s signature shopping outlet is called Al Siq Souk.

Jordan’s landmarks inspire rides

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark is located within the Saraya Al Aqaba Residential City, which features a combination of residential, business, leisure and entertainment facilities.

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark was developed by Eagle Hills and is operated by Farah Experience LLC, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Miral Asset Management LLC.

“Over the years, Farah Experiences has garnered deep industry expertise managing and operating award-winning theme parks and attractions in Abu Dhabi,” said Julien Kauffmann, CEO of Farah Experiences.

Images: Eagle Hills Jordan

Bea Mitchell, A journalist specialising in entertainment and attractions, Bea loves theme parks (mainly Disney) and is particularly interested in things of a gothic, horror or fantasy nature