A lookout for the global community
|Policies & Programs||Trends||Organizations||Member Profiles||G-Citizen Blog|
Policies and Programs
|Whaling ‚Äď Cultural Right or Environmental Threat?For many Japanese people, whaling is an age-old part of their culture, and whale meat is a tasty source of protein. However, the traditionally whale-consuming nation recently agreed to a ruling by the International Criminal Court of Justice prohibiting whaling expeditions in the Antarctic. These expeditions had formerly been billed as scientific research, and were carried out under this pretense for many years. Environmentalists and conservationists around the globe are excited by this step forward, despite its limited scope. The agreement will not prohibit Japanese whaling elsewhere, nor will it prevent whaling in countries like Norway and Iceland that have histories of whaling. While some Japanese support the new agreement, others feel that it impedes on their traditional practices. At what point do traditions need to yield to larger, global priorities like preservation of wildlife? How can global citizens support this process?
Read more from the NY Times at: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/01/a-whale-of-an-international-court-ruling-against-japan/
Air pollution causes 7 million deaths each year
Over the past decade, the world has become increasingly aware of the threat of climate change, and how it can contribute to natural disasters like hurricanes, droughts and floods that are devastating and deadly. While these threats are highly visible, striking cities with a powerful, sudden impact, the subtler threat of air pollution is equally grave. According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 7 million deaths each year are attributable to air pollution. An estimated 4.3 million deaths in 2012 were caused by indoor air pollution, while another 3.7 million were caused by outdoor air pollution, primarily in developing countries. Because many victims were exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution, the total figure is 7 million, and not the 8 million that one might expect. Many are exposed to indoor air pollution by using coal and wood stoves indoors, especially in Asia, while outdoor air pollution is most prevalent in the world‚Äôs big cities. Air pollution causes tiny particles to irritate the lungs, and may cause inflammation of the heart, both of which can lead to death in extreme cases. The threat of air pollution presents yet another reason that the global citizens everywhere must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and adapt our lifestyles to preserve the air we breathe.
Read more from the Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/air-pollution-deaths_n_5027320.html
|Tech Innovations Could Lead to Universal Internet Connectivity¬†Universal internet access is a goal to which many global citizens aspire, and new innovations at Facebook may help the world reach this goal. Facebook is considering a range of cutting edge technologies to make the internet more accessible in places that are not connected. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, could be used to deliver internet access where no internet infrastructure exists. In order to explore this possibility, Facebook is creating a new lab of aeronautics experts and space scientists, and is purchasing a small British company that specializes in drones, called Ascenta. It‚Äôs unclear at this point who would benefit most from such efforts, but if Facebook is successful, they may wield the power to bring the internet anywhere on the planet efficiently and at low cost.Read more from the NY Times at: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/daily-report-facebook-aims-to-use-drones-to-deliver-internet-access/
Transgender People Recognized as ‚ÄúThird Gender‚ÄĚ in India
The Supreme Court in New Delhi recently ruled that transgender people are to be considered a ‚Äúthird gender‚ÄĚ, reducing or eliminating a variety of discriminatory laws and practices that have traditionally governed the lives of the transgender population. In the past, the absence of a law on transgender individuals has served as the basis for discrimination, resulting in unequal opportunities in education and employment for this population. With the new law in place, transgender people are formally recognized by the government, and will enjoy a higher quality of life as a result. The Supreme Court ruled that special public toilets must be constructed to accommodate the third gender, and that departments to address medical issues for this population must be established.
Read more form the Times of India at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Supreme-Court-recognizes-transgenders-as-third-gender/articleshow/33767900.cms
Polio Eradication in Southeast Asia
As epidemics arise in nations around the world, organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and international development donor agencies must make difficult decisions on where to devote dollars and resources to make the greatest impact. Polio eradication has been a long time coming, but the WHO is expected to certify in the near future that this achievement has been reached in Southeast Asia, with no new cases discovered in India in the last three years. This success is encouraging and laudable, given that health systems are weak in many parts of India, and knowledge of vaccines and diseases can be quite low. The success, however, has come at a very high cost of approximately $10 billion, significantly higher than the $500 million required to eliminate smallpox for example, and some donors question whether the money should have been devoted to other pressing needs like addressing Malaria or HIV/AIDS. However, even with the high cost of eradication, the cost of simply managing the disease but allowing it to exist is much greater in the long run.
Read more from Quartz at: http://qz.com/191860/why-its-worth-it-to-eradicate-polio/
|Extreme Poverty Persists, Despite Global Gains|
Despite significant gains in eliminating extreme poverty, projections of up to one billion people living on less than $1.25 per day by 2030 paint a grim picture of our global future. While many programs have succeeded in lifting sections of the population above the extreme poverty line, and extreme poverty globally dropped from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 1.2 billion in 2010, serious challenges threaten to slow progress toward poverty elimination. In many cases, individuals who escape extreme poverty remain extremely vulnerable to social and environmental catastrophes, as well as crises in their personal lives. This vulnerability often leads to a loss of income, and relapse into extreme poverty. Many of the world‚Äôs biggest gains in poverty alleviation have been in China, while some of the greatest challenges have been in sub-Saharan Africa. It will be very difficult to make the kind of changes necessary to alleviate chronic poverty over the next 15 years, unless policy makers do more to address the inequalities that keep the world‚Äôs poorest in vulnerability.
Read more from the Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/mar/10/jobs-billion-people-extreme-povertyMobile Technology Improves Lives in the Developing World
As the global population booms, climate change threatens our natural environment, epidemics devastate societies and resource scarcity diminishes quality of life for millions, developments in mobile technology present innovative solutions that are saving lives. Connectivity through mobile devices has saved lives through mHealth interventions, reduced food and money waste due to streamlined processes, prevented mortality in car accidents through emergency services, increased educational opportunity, and made a wide variety of other significant, life changing improvements to existence in the developing world. In order to successfully face the challenges of the next decade, society, leaders, and policy-makers must continue to harness the power of mobile technology in creative ways.
Read more from the World Bank at: http://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/media-revolutions-impact-connected-life-over-next-five-years
Global Governance Organizations
|Russia Cast Out of G8|
The G8 or ‚ÄúGroup of Eight‚ÄĚ is an exclusive group of some of the world‚Äôs largest and most influential economic powers, including, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.S., the U.K., and until recently, Russia. In late March, the G8 leaders met without Russian President Vladimir Putin and resolved to cast Russia out of the G8 as a consequence of the nation‚Äôs decision to annex Crimea. The Hague Declaration, as it is being called, is largely symbolic, since losing G8 membership does not have major, immediate economic consequences for Russia. G8 leaders have been criticized, therefore, for not taking a strong enough stance against Russia‚Äôs recent actions. However, the remaining G8 Nations are threatening more severe sanctions if Russia advances forces into Ukraine, even at significant cost to their own economies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been one of the most outspoken opponents of Russia‚Äôs actions, in spite of the economic consequences for Germany of disrupting trade relations with Russia. The G8 are taking steps to preserve cooperation and police against Russia‚Äôs actions. As global citizens, we must hope that the conflict is resolved, and that cooperation between Russia and other G8 nations can be reestablished.
Read more from the NY Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/world/europe/obama-russia-crimea.html?_r=0Foreign aid hits record high, but where is it going?
After two years of austerity measures leading to low levels of international aid around the globe, foreign aid for development in 2013 hit a record high of $134.8 billion. Many major donor countries increased their aid budgets significantly, including a UK aid increase of 27.8%, Japanese aid increase of 36.6%, and United Arab Emirates aid skyrocketing by 375.5%.¬† Significant increases from countries like Iceland, Norway, Italy, Estonia, Russia, Turkey and many others also contributed greatly to this boost in international aid. Aid was reduced by a few countries, including Canada, France and Portugal, but not enough to offset the increases mentioned above. In spite of these gains, questions remain as to how aid should be spent, and to where it should be directed. In many cases, donors are focused on middle income countries, giving aid in the form of loans, rather than providing assistance to the countries that need it most.
Read more from the Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/apr/08/foreign-aid-spending-developing-countries
MEMBER PROFILE: Ash Hartwell
This is what I believe:
- We are one species, one race, one people, organically interconnected in one home, the planet earth.
- We are also organically connected to all living beings, supported by a co-evolving planetary ecology.
- What is unique to humankind is our incredible mind, our creative, inquiring and learning consciousness, which imagines and evolves cultures, technologies, relationships and societies.
- Every human born, unless tragically brain damaged, has these capacities and potentials.
- The way forward on the multiple global issues that confront us as a people is the consciousness of the oneness of humankind.¬† The conflicts of competing nations, ideologies, religions and ethnicities arise from the failure to recognize our oneness.¬† We have the capacity to choose a different path.
I am a co-founder of The Global Citizens Initiative, and an adjunct professor at the Center for International Education, University of Massachusetts in Amherst.¬† For the past fifty years I have worked at community, national and international levels on seeking improved ways to provide meaningful, quality education to children, youth and adults in countries as diverse as Ethiopia, Lesotho and Afghanistan.
How did I come to be involved as a global citizen and educator?¬† I grew up in Hawaii, beautiful islands with awesome mountains, surrounded by the Pacific ocean, and blessed with rich, multicultural traditions.¬† My first school, Hanahaouli (meaning work and play in Hawaiian), celebrated Hawaiian traditions, history, culture, songs, and dance, and provided an active, integrated approach to learning.¬† Only later did I learn that the structures of schooling do not typically promote students‚Äô curiosity, creativity and joy of exploration.
When I was in graduate school, working toward a doctorate in international education, I studied and then accepted the Baha‚Äôi Faith, which holds that ‚Äėthe earth is one country, and mankind its citizens.‚Äô It promotes the unity of all religions, and sees justice as the expression of the organic interconnection of all peoples and life. ¬†It teaches that education should be universal, promotes the independent investigation of truth and the harmony of science and religion. ¬†This has been the touchstone of my life‚Äôs research, teaching and service.
Much of my life-work has been devoted to the reform of schooling and education, particularly in those countries and areas where populations have been colonized, exploited and marginalized.¬† ¬†I have lived and worked for multiple years in Ethiopia, Uganda, Lesotho, Botswana, and Egypt, and worked for shorter periods on education policy and reforms in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.¬† As one example of this work, during the last decade I worked in Afghanistan with educators from the Center for International Education and Afghanistan to design a program providing groups of women in rural communities with classes on family health and literacy, so that they could take initiatives to improve their own and their families‚Äô health and well-being.¬†¬† At the conclusion of the 9 month program in each village or town, the Ministry of Education agreed to administer an equivalency test, and those women who passed this test were then eligible for midwife training provided by the Ministry of Health, which was working to rebuild country-wide rural health clinics and services. Close to 7,000 women in almost 300 locations in the country participated and passed this test within a three year period.
Such experiences have deepened my belief in a deep, innate human desire and capacity for learning, which is not inevitably deadened (often by schooling) as children grow into youth and adulthood.¬† Every child ‚Äď and potentially every adult ‚Äď has the capacity for genius (awe, curiosity joy, creativity).¬† Current forms of schooling do not nurture this potential, but rather reflect both colonial and outmoded values of epistemology and power.¬† I believe that our role as global citizens is to nurture this capacity ‚Äď and to conceive this as a primary goal of what is called ‚Äėdevelopment.‚Äô
I am optimistic that however conflictual, exploitative and short-sighted current political, economic, national, religious and ethnic relationships may be, there is a growing consciousness of our global interconnectedness, and the need to nurture our capacity to address global issues (climate, resources, energy, water, the nuclear threat, inequalities) collectively.¬† That, I believe is the role of TGCI and¬† many other like-minded organizations.
¬† ¬† ¬†GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP BLOG: MAY, 2014 ¬†
¬†THE, VALUES, RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP
¬†¬†¬†¬† By Ron Israel, Executive Director, The Global Citizens‚Äô Initiative
In this month‚Äôs global citizens‚Äô blog, we share some observations on the values, rights, and responsibilities of global citizenship. This month‚Äôs blog will be posted on the BlogPost section of the TGCI website. Please feel free to leave a reply or comment.
A global citizen is someone who sees themselves as part of an emerging sustainable world community, and whose actions support the values and practices of that community. There are two types of values that can characterize our emerging world community: (1) political, economic and humanitarian values and (2) personal values. Each of these types of values is evolving over time, as the nature of ¬†global issues changes and as a greater interest emerges regarding the commomn ethics and morals that underly the world‚Äôs great wisdom traditions (Christinaity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others).
GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP VALUES
(a)¬† Political, economic and humanitarian values:
For the most part, the world community‚Äôs political, economic, and humanitarian values ¬†are values that have been espoused by global leaders for the past one hundred years. These include: human rights, environmental protection, sustainable development, gender equity, religious pluralism, digital access,¬† poverty alleviation and the reduction of resource inequalities, global peace and justice, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, and humanmitarian assistance. These values are reflected in the nature of a growing number of global issues that the world community needs to solve collaboratively, such as climate change, human rights violations, gender inequities, religious intolerance, increases in civil conflicts, and others.
These issues are beyond the capacity of individual nation states to solve on their own. Yet because of the power of the nation-state; its dependence on the views of citizens, many of whom are more concerned with local than global issues; and the consequent reluctance of countries in working with others; many of our global issues continue to worsen.
One major, heartening excdeption to this trend, is in the field of humanitarian assistance. Over the last decade, in places like Haiti, Japan, and the Philippines, the world has collectively responded to the emergency needs of the people involved.
(b) Social, cultural and behavioral values:
The social, cultural, and behavioral values of the world community¬† can be found in many of the world‚Äôs great wisdom traditions. Sharif Abdullah, in his book Creating A World That Works for All finds that most wisdom traditions share universal values such ¬†as love, peace, nonviolence, compassion, service, caring for others, forgiveness, tolerance, patience, humility, surrender, inclusivity, truth, joy, gratitude, and happiness. In an interview we did with Sharif Abdullah he comments, somewhat skeptically, ¬†on this list: ‚ÄúI can find some level of all of these values ascribed to in all cultures. However, the truth is that most cultures believe these things, yet practice almost the opposite of these values, which is why we‚Äôre talking right now. If people actually practiced their values, there would be no need for my organization or yours. There is lots of evidence that we‚Äôre not practicing the universal values.‚ÄĚ
GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS
The rights of global citizens are embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first drafted in 1948 after World War II.¬† The core nature of the Universal Declaration ‚Äď grounded in individual liberty, equality, and equity ‚Äď has remained constant. However the ways in human rights are applied change over time, with changes that occur in the political, economic and social fabric of society. ¬†Also new rights, that were not on the 1948 human rights agenda have emerged, for example, digital access rights, LGBT rights, and environmental rights. Some people cite the emergence of new rights and changing political systems as calling forth the need for an updated Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The main problem related to human rights has been the difficulties that the world has had in enforcing them. There is a long and shameful history of disrespect for and abuse of human rights on the part of sovereign states, religious institutions, corporations and others.¬† A growing number of international mechanisms have been established for reporting human rights abuses. There also are global, regional, and national courts that exist to adjudicate incidents of human rights abuse. Yet, unfortunately human rights enforcement mechanisms still have limited legal jurisdiction, and many states have not agreed to participate in them. This is yet another reason for a review and update of our current human rights policies and programs.
GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES
A global citizen, living in an emerging world community, has moral, ethical, political, and economic responsibilities. It is a tall order that requires the provision of education, training and awareness raising, starting at an early age and extending through secondary and post secondary education. The great challenge for those of us interested in promoting global citizenship is to educate and nurture a new generation of global citizen leaders. The instructional framework for global citizen leadership should help participants fulfill the following responsibilities.
#1 Responsibility to understand one‚Äôs own perspective and the perspectives of others on global issues. Almost every global issue has multiple ethnic, social, political, and economic perspectives attached to it. It is the responsibility of global citizens to understand these different perspectives and promote problem-solving consensus among the different perspectives and the building of common ground solutions. A global citizen should avoid taking sides with one particular point of view, and instead search for ways to bring all sides together.
# 2 Responsibility ¬†to respect the principle of cultural diversity: The multiple perspectives that exist with most global issues often are a reflection of different cultural belief systems. Each of our major cultural belief systems brings value-added to our search for solutions to the global issues we face. In building a sustainable values-based world community it is important to maintain respect for the world‚Äôs different cultural traditions; to make an effort to bring together the leaders of these different cultural traditions who often have much in common with one another.; and to help leaders bring the best elements of their cultures to the task of solving global issues and building world community.
# 3 Responsibility to make connections and build relationships with people from other countries and cultures. Global citizens need to reach out and build relationships with people from other countries and cultures. Otherwise we will continue to live in isolated communities with narrow conflict-prone points of view on global issues.¬† It is quite easy to build global relationships. Most countries, cities, and towns are now populated with immigrants and people from different ethnic traditions. The internet offers a range of opportunities to connect with people on different issues. So even without traveling abroad (which is a useful thing to do), it is possible to build a network of personal and group cross-country and cultural relationships. Building such networks help those involved better understand their similarities and differences and search for common solutions for the global issues that everyone faces.
#4 Responsibility to understand the ways in which the peoples and countries of the world are inter-connected and inter-dependent: Global citizens have the responsibility to understand the many ways in which their lives are inter-connected with people and countries in different parts of the world. ¬†They need for example to understand the ways in which the global environment affects them where they live, and how the environmental lifestyles they choose affect the environment in other parts of the world. They need to understand the ways in which human rights violations in foreign countries affect their own human rights, how growing income inequalities across the world affect the quality of their lives, how the global tide of immigration affects what goes on in their countries.
#5 Responsibility to understand global issues: Global citizens have the responsibility to understand the major global issues that affect their lives. For example, they need to understand the impact of the scarcity of resources on societies; the challenges presented by the current distribution of wealth and power in the world; the roots of conflict and dimensions of peace-building; and the challenges posed by a growing global population.
#6 Responsibility to advocate for greater international cooperation with other nations:¬† Global citizens need to play activist roles in urging greater international cooperation between their nation and others. When a global issue arises, it is important for global citizens to provide advice on how their countries can work with other nations to address this issue; how they can work with established international organizations like the United Nations, rather than proceed on a unilateral course of action
#7 Responsibility for advocating for the implementation of international agreements, conventions, treaties related to global issues: Global citizens have the responsibility to advocate for their countries to ratify and implement the global agreements, conventions, and treaties that they have signed.
#8 Responsibility for advocating for more effective global equity and justice in each of the value domains of the world community. There are a growing number of cross-sectoral issues that require the implementation of global standards of justice and equity; for example the global rise in military spending, the unequal access by different countries to technology, the lack of consistent policies on immigration. Global citizens have the responsibility to work with one another and advocate for global equality and justice solutions to these issues.
¬† Partners www.kosmosjournal.org http://www.earthaction.org/ ¬†
The Goal, Principles & Values of The Global Citizens‚Äô Initiative (TGCI)
Goal: TGCI‚Äôs goal is to build a group of leaders who can promote the practice of global citizenship engagement and advocate for policies and programs that reflect the values of a world community. TGCI is a member organization where people can access information about global citizenship issues, engage in global development advocacy efforts, and build their skills as global citizenship leaders.
Principles: TGCI stands for the following four principles:
- There is an emerging world community with a shared set of values
- People have the ability to think and act as global citizens, in addition to being citizens of their countries
- People from around the world need opportunities to participate in the development of solutions to the growing number of global problems challenging the world community
- Governance institutions that seek to address global problems need mechanisms that help ensure greater engagement with and accountability to the people they serve
¬† Values: ¬† TGCI believes that a world community needs to be supported by a strong set of core values, including: ¬†
- basic human rights
- religious pluralism
- participatory governance
- protection of the Earth‚Äôs environment
- sustainable world-wide economic growth
- poverty alleviation
- humanitarian assistance
- elimination of weapons of mass destruction
- cessation and prevention of conflicts between countries
- preservation of cultural diversity