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Now and again you come across one of those people who somehow makes the complex simple, and in doing so can turn our assumptions on their head. Hans Rosling, hailing from Sweden makes an interesting twist to how we might perceive development and poverty.
This TED talk from 2007 is worth watching. It was Rich Fleming from the Global Poverty Project who put me onto this information, as I was discussing my intention of doing this run many months ago. He suggested that this question: “Is the seemingly impossible possible?” was worth asking.
In five years the 2o15 deadline arrives for reporting on the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
How can we best use the information and framing that Hans presents to change our own perspective?
Was this useful for you or just an amusing presentation?
2015 marks an important time horizon for the United Nations: reporting on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). These are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations agreed to achieve by the year 2015.
Speculation exists whether this will be possible. Is it time to make excuses and analyse “what went wrong”, or is now the time to create massive change and set a determined course to achieve the goals successfully?
Talk alone will not have the necessary effect. How is it possible to translate this objective from the United Nations in New York into meaningful actions which we as a global community can engage in?
With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDG, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend a summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to accelerate progress towards these goals.
I recently conducted an informal survey of contacts I met across five countries between March and May this year. I was surprised that most people had never heard of these MDG. Even so, every person I spoke with was fully engaged when presented with the statistics on child mortality.
What will it take to move action forward on the MDG? Will a conference of leaders in New York this September cut it?
I contend that action needs to come from the global community, with people acting as bridge builders. What might this look like? I am not sure, but through the 10 City Bridge Run I intend to stimulate discussion to identify a crowd-sourced list of 10 actionable items that people can engage in to make a difference. Is this naive? Possibly, but nothing ventured, nothing changed. Two-thirds into the first time period for reporting on the MDG, progress is slow and maybe falling short. Maybe it is naive not to try all options which we are presented with, regardless how facile they might seem.
For my previous experience with the Australian Army assisting in Timor Leste and later in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami, my instinct says that just giving money and leaving it to the bureaucrats is not the answer. It will help, but there has to be more we can do.
What do you think?
UNICEF reported in 2009 that 8.8 million children under the age of five died during 2008. Tragically this would be the same as 24,000 children dying every single day. For comparison, it is worth noting the stark contrast that 50% of these deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa while only 0.1% occur in the “Industrialised Countries”.
UNICEF, the United Nations funding agency for the relief of children in need, is a reliable source of information. In their November 2009 publication The State of the World’s Children Special Edition: Celebrating 20 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child gives insight into how different the lives of others can be, and how great their need can be often in comparison to our own. For example, UNICEF report that in 2008:
- 2.5 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation
- 1 billion children were deprived of one or more services essential to survival and development
- 148 million children under the age of five in developing regions were underweight for their age
- 101 million children were not attending primary school, with more girls than boys missing out
- 22 million infants were not protected from diseases by routine immunisation
- 4 million newborn babies worldwide died in the first month of life
- 2 million children under 15 years of age were living with HIV
- 8.8 million children under the age of five died, equivalent to more than 24,000 children dying daily
- 500,000 women died from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth
(Source: UNICEF The State of the World’s Children Special Edition: Celebrating 20 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 2009, p.18-19)
Anup Shah produces a website with much of this information presented clearly for easy reading and can be found here.
How should we respond to this information? Shock, disbelief, vigilance, anger, compassion, sadness?
Maybe the bigger question is what are we prepared to do about it.