On Tuesday afternoon (24th January) I found out that my application to be a Global Poverty Ambassador had been successful. The programme, which is run by the NGO Global Poverty Project is currently touring the United States. This year they have partnered up with The Cooperative Group, in the International Year of Cooperatives, to help communicate the importance of understanding global poverty and to keep focus on this importance issue. A key elememt of that delivery strategy is the selection of 100 Ambassadors who’s role is to take the message out into their local communities, to reach out to groups and help answer people’s questions about global poverty. At the heart of this message is the 1.4 Billion Reasons presentation.
I’m really excited about this opportunity and I’m looking forward to challenging myself to help connect with local people and communities, in a way that is meaningful and engaging. I’m also looking forward to being challenged by other people because it’s a sure sign that people care, and want to do more.
As part of my application I had to write a letter to Bill Gates (Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), outlining my objectives and focus for 2012 (in less than 300 words), but also to suggest what the objectives of the global community should be when considering how to tackle extreme poverty. For now I want to publish my letter, so you know what my thoughts and feelings are, and to open up the debate on how we can work together to eliminate extreme poverty – I welcome your comments!
My letter to Bill Gates:
The 21st Century has always been the century of technology, innovation and mobilisation. How often have we seen images from the past that show us what life would be like today; flying around in spaceships, living on Mars and being able to control our lives with the touch of a button?
The reality is surprising isn’t it? No-one thought that at the beginning of this century there would be over a billion people living on less than two dollars a day, that millions of children would die needlessly through simple, preventable diseases, and that clean water would be a luxury. The question that begs to be asked is why, and more importantly what can we do about it?
The answer, I believe, requires a quantum leap in our current thinking. Today we can see that innovation and technology can provide so many solutions to so many problems, but they’re not the complete answer. For those of us who live in the rich-world, it would be easy to fall into a trap in thinking that now is the time to baton down the hatches, and ride-out the financial storm. But counter-intuitively now is the time to focus on ways in which we can help those who are most impoverished to be much more self-empowered. Not because of moral imperative, as often put forward, no the quantum leap we need to bring about is that there is a business case for eradicating poverty, for developing sustainably.
As a Global Poverty Ambassador I would seek to lead that education at a grassroots level within my community. As more people start to understand the challenges better, the more governments will be mandated to lead that process within the international community. Start small and local, the real 21st century has just begun!