This weekend I attended the Millennium Campus Conference. It truly was one of the most inspirational weekends of my life. For a weekend, young people from around the country congregated in NYC to stand up against global poverty. We gathered on the eve of the UN Summit of world leaders in NYC to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the eradication of poverty.
The adoption of the MDGs was a defining moment for global cooperation in the twenty-first century. The Declaration captured previously agreed goals on international development, and gave birth to a set of concrete and measurable development objectives known as the Millennium Development Goals. Spurred by the Declaration, leaders from both developed and developing countries committed to achieve these interwoven goals by 2015. Progress has been made over the last decade but more needs to be done. And faster.
According to new statistics published last week by the World Bank, almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. EACH DAY. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. WATER and TOILETS. Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers. Where does it end?
This weekend was a pep rally for those interested in social entrepreneurship. Call me a geek but for someone in international development, this was a star-studded weekend. We heard keynote addresses from founders Scott Harrison from charity:water, Dr. Bernard Amadei from Engineers without Borders, and Jeffrey Sachs from the Global Institute (and author of the The End of Poverty). The addressess may have been geared towards the environment, hunger, water, girls, education, policy, or health, but the underlying theme was the same.
It’s time for us to fight so that every person, no matter their race, color, or country of origin, has the right to achieve their human potential. It’s time to kick poverty out of the world.