Twenty years ago global leaders began gathering to set shared goals to address the critical needs of our planet, which resulted in the UN Millennium Development Goals, UN Declaration on Human Development, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 and a host of other global agreements with shared goals addressing poverty, the environment, human rights, social justice, security, and economic development.
Just one month ago at the Rio +20 global leaders gathered again to assess our progress as a global community, reaffirm commitments and to set the focus for the years to 2015 and 2020, the dates by which most goals are to be met.
Here are 4 key findings out of the 53 page report and an example of what role we can play as businesses and associations. Our leaders self-assessed a rather urgent and dire situation, but hang in till the end of this blog, the example that the International Association of Administrative Professionals shows us is a clear and simple way that all of us can be a part of the solution.
PROGRESS IS UNEVEN, AND IN SOME CASES GOING BACKWARD
“We recognize that, three years from the 2015 target date of the Millennium Development Goals, while there has been progress in reducing poverty in some regions, this progress has been uneven and the number of people living in poverty in some countries continues to increase, with women and children constituting the majority of the most affected groups, especially in the least developed countries and particularly in Africa.” Point 105, Page 21, Agenda Item 10 Outcome of the Conference. Rio +20 United Nation Conference on Sustainable Development Rio de Janerio, Brazil 20 – 22 June 2012.
The reality is that though progress was made up to 2008, with the global economic crisis and most countries not meeting their commitments, we are starting to go backwards even as the global population is ballooning toward 9 billion by 2050.
POVERTY IS THE NUMBER ONE GLOBAL CHALLENGE
“Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. In this regard we are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.” Point 2, Page 1.
Poverty rose to the top of the agenda with global leaders now advocating for an integrated view of sustainable development that includes people and the environment as inseparable components of any successful strategy.
WE MUST WORK AS A BROAD ALLIANCE ACROSS SECTORS
“We recognize that opportunities for people to influence their lives and future, participate in decision-making and voice their concerns are fundamental for sustainable development. We underscore that sustainable development requires concrete and urgent action. It can only be achieved with a broad alliance of people, governments, civil society and the private sector, all working together to secure the future we want for present and future generations” Point 13, Page 2
We probably all knew this, but no one actor, business, non profit, government or other has the ability to succeed alone. This is our great challenge and our great opportunity.
BUSINESS IS A NECESSARY PARTNER AT THE TABLE
“We encourage each country to consider the implementation of green economy policies in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in a manner that endeavours to drive sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and job creation, particularly for women, youth and the poor. In this respect, we note the importance of ensuring that workers are equipped with the necessary skills, including through education and capacity-building, and are provided with the necessary social and health protections. In this regard, we encourage all stakeholders, including business and industry, to contribute, as appropriate.” Point 62, Page 11
With the advent of technology and global trade, our business decisions impact people around the globe. As Corporate Social Responsibility continues to evolve, having a global perspective on all our decisions, including supply chain, can have enormous positive impact.
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS “GLOCAL” STRATEGY FOR IMPACT
“I just feel that we are so focused on our own needs to be better professionals, and this is not bad. But we don’t always sit back and think about what women in other parts of the world’s lives are like. An organization like ZOË Alliance enables women to have dignity and employment; giving back to their community and helping their families grow through education. More important than that, they are making us aware that these small businesses exist and the people that work there are an active part of our society.” Josephine Roman, co-president IAAP Greater Toronto Chapter
We thought it would be inspiring to highlight a great example of collaborative action in response to our shared global challenge. On the surface it looks like a few dozen paper weights and a couple of special items for volunteer leaders, but the impact of the decision of co-presidents’ Sherrie Machan and Josephine Roman was felt around the world in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Dharmapuri, India, and Bois de Lance, Haiti.
The Greater Toronto Chapter of the IAAP has a history of focusing on investing in the community and specifically chooses to support organizations with which they have alignment in the area of mission and values.
The chapter intentionally supports local charities that help women with employment. Recently they decided to include women in villages in developing nations in their supply chain by sourcing volunteer gifts and prize items from ZOË.
After they decided to socially source their gifts, they ran into a small glitch. You see, there didn’t appear to be any options in their budget range for their gift application. This happens a lot because the movement is so young and we are still building a broader and broader range of choices for clients who wish to socially source.
Did these ladies walk away and say, oh well we tried, and we didn’t see anything? No, they took us up on our offer to make it easy for anyone who wants to Take the Challenge and socially source to do so. They shot us a quick email, told us what they were looking for, and our team instantly contacted our fair trade alliance partners and found some great options including some beautiful hand made paper weights through the network.
Sherrie and Josephine took a look at the options, chose the paper weight and in the words of Sherrie…” Sheer delight, the recipients were so grateful and they couldn’t believe the amount of workmanship that went into the gift. One person actually commented on how she couldn’t wait to go home and read through the story card in more detail.”
Last year, Josephine and Sherrie sourced gifts in the same way most people do. From a routine supply source or the company website of pre-branded options. This year they recognized our opportunity in the meetings industry is to harness some of the $40 billion dollars spent on gifts toward the eradication of poverty.
Thanks to the IAAP, there is another group of people determined to take “concrete and urgent action”, including the poorest of the poor as their suppliers and, if we are going to meet our global goals, we all need many more to join them.