You’re destroying our planet!

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf 

SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. A very long description and to many incomprehensible. “Don’t we already have the climate action SDG? Why do we need another?

All of the Sustainable Development Goals were crafted with precision and lots of deliberation. None  of them are pointless and every one of them is battling a huge issue.

Did you know that around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood? Or that of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 per cent are extinct and 22 per cent are at risk of extinction? And that due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares per minute), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown? These are all facts displayed on the UN website. As you can see Life on Land has a huge importance to the well being of our world and something has to be done to preserve it.

Our world is evolving, technologies advancing and people want more and more. But our land suffers. While industrialisation is important for economic growth and for the well-being of the society, it often has disastrous effects on the environment like air emissions, wastewater, land pollution etc.

Because companies need materials on such a large scale, it is of vital importance that they make sure their industry isn’t destroying our planet. Many companies have already adapted to making sure, minimal harm is being done to the planet. Unilever, for example, has vowed to sustainably source palm oil, an ingredient which is notorious for being linked to deforestation.

Unilever met its target to source 100% of it from sustainable sources and now aims to have full traceability to sources certified as sustainable by 2020.” That is impressive and hopefully more companies will jump on board and make sure their resources are not destroying our earth.

Finally, there is another big problem. Us. The consumers. We often go through supermarkets, trying to find the cheapest items so as not to spend too much of our hard earned money. And there is nothing wrong with that. After all, we work hard and we want to treat ourselves. But is it really worth it to be able to buy that extra pair of jeans or flashy phone case, if our planet is being destroyed? When shopping for food, instead make sure to look for signs that it was recovered from sustainable farming, like the Fair Trade logo.

 “We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.” – Wangari Maathai

Most of us will never witness our planet returning to its former glory. There has been so much damage done to it and it would take immediate action from everyone, and still it would be years before we would see any improvements. But it is a step that has to be taken. We have to make sure that the planet that is supporting us and nourishing us, isn’t destroyed because of our greed.

Stand up for SDG 15. Are you doing your part?

The Digital: An oblivion or awakening?

Blogpost Writer: Laura Sabrina Al Bast 

Have you noticed how social media explodes with hashtags uniting people together in times of crisis? #YesAllWomen and #BlackLivesMatter are one example. Unity and solidarity on a digital platform has become a new norm for seeking justice.

In George Friedman’s book on geopolitics, The next 100 years, he mentions how the past, civilisations were oblivious to each other, it was almost impossible for people from across the globe to connect. It wasn’t until the 15th century onward with Europe becoming the centre of the world building colonies, spreading imperialism and inducing trade that humanity stopped living a self-enclosed life.

icon-digital-mediaIndia, having been a British colony itself, suffered terrible famine in both 1770 and 1873. Yet reporting on famine was forbidden at the time as any information on food supply could have been of aid to the enemy at the time. It wasn’t until an English journalist, Ian Stephens, reported on the famine through English newspapers as opposed to the restrictions he and his colleagues found in local Indian newspapers that the world  had become aware of the famine and in turn sent aid, though extremely late. Following that example as many, scholars came to various conclusions about the media:

  • The media has a role in preventing disasters such as famine
  • The media serves as an early warning system
  • The media, as a watchdog, can pressure governments to act

And so based on the Famine of Bengal in 1943, two economists discovered that governmental action was faster and stronger in areas where there were more newspapers in comparison to areas with fewer newspapers.

cloud-icons

17 years into the 21st century, we have a different kind of media; digital. Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of think-tank ‘New America’ says that the essential fault line of the digital age is between open and closed. In elaboration, it’s the idea of openness that includes transparency of information, access to information, and constant connection. In particular, it is received through networks of social media; Facebook, instagram, youtube or twitter. Because of that, news today travels in a blink of an eye in comparison to decades ago when news often never left the country in which they occurred.

Last week, Famine was declared in South Sudan. The story was picked up by various news agencies across the world with the World Food Program and UNICEF almost instantly planning ahead to provide food, nutrition and treat children with severe malnutrition. And though there might be a long way ahead for the problem to be resolved, yet the digital media did its deed.

In AIESEC, we aim to develop world citizens of the young leaders in our network; interested in world issues and seeking to always be informed. In an era where we are criticised for spending so much time using technology and sharing stories on social media, maybe we should consider the benefit of the ongoing digital storm; Access, transparency, and connection.

 

World NGO Day: Celebrating Civic Engagement

Blogpost Writer: Laura Sabrina Al Bast

Who hasn’t seen all the social media posts endorsing the power of youth engaging in travel, volunteerism, innovation, or entrepreneurship. It’s everywhere; conferences popping up with speakers high in the tech or media industries, competitions on sustainable innovations and startups, or even grants or fellowships for young entrepreneurs. It all sounds amazing, and unfortunately exclusive to a portion of youth who’ve already broken the barriers of their comfort zone.

It must be admit, not everyone has a great idea to save the environment, report a story on a political occurrence, or even merely speak on stage in front of hundreds. But does that mean that not all youth are worth development? The truth is, youth engagement is necessary and almost obligatory to have a better future, but not all youth are presented with opportunities that often develop their hard and soft skills that eventually gives them leverage to speak up and act. It’s not that youth are uninterested, it’s that the platform presented in certain countries may not be presented in others.

BI-startup

That’s where the role of the non-governmental sector in youth civic engagement becomes needed; NGOs have no specific qualification or academic standard that a young individual needs to achieve for them to be part of civil society. The NGO sector plays a crucial and central role in supporting young people in exploring their roles as political actors for example, as it lays as the connection between the state and the civil society. Whether we like it or not, our lives are connected to the policies administered by the nation-state in which we reside, and so working towards a vision of peace, eradication of violence, education, or empowerment does not mean you’re working for college-credit or volunteering hours, it means you’re exploiting your citizenship. It no longer requires a degree or high-standard qualifications to be part of the non-governmental sector, it just requires a will and continuous civic engagement.

StartUps_2014

Research found that  “it is the lack of civic participation that leads to a community’s demise.”, what NGOs attempt to do when it comes to youth development and engagement is create a network through schools, universities, and communities to form a bond of  motivated and engaged individuals when it comes to issues that involve the betterment, development, or fostering of certain issues in respective countries.

AIESEC is proud to celebrate World NGO Day as an International Youth-run organization concerned with developing young people’s leadership potential by providing them with a platform to explore cultural civic engagement and community development opportunities with NGOs and institutions in over 120 countries around the world.

How Teaching Vietnamese Children English Impacted Me

Tay Ninh is a small, provincial city that borders Cambodia and Vietnam. It is a gentle and slow city with people who have an affinity for shrimp salt and rice paper.

When I first came to Tay Ninh, I didn’t know what kind of impact I would be making. But I soon quickly realized how much four young foreigners with little fluency in Vietnamese could do to a little community.



My Leadership Story Australian Volunteer 1

My AIESEC exchange in Vietnam pushed me from becoming a curious, stray traveler to an English school teacher, helping 40 kids learn and giving them the opportunity to discover about other cultures. What I hadn’t realized was how much I learnt along the way.

In Tay Ninh, I learnt how salt is formed, how rice paper is made and how chopsticks are put together. I’ve learnt that kids—no matter their background or classroom—can be naughty, and rewards with music or lollies at the end of the day remedies all. I’ve learnt the importance of an English education, particularly in rural areas where children are often thought of as working in low-income jobs on a farm or at a factory in their future, and that learning English would give them the chance to compete with students in the city, a chance for them to obtain a stable job and therefore a better future.


My Leadership Story Australian Volunteer 2

There are few foreigners that visit Tay Ninh and even fewer that have the opportunity to connect with the locals of this town. And it is therefore, more difficult to find people or places to help them practice English or to help carry English conversations so that they can learn by doing. But I feel privileged to have been able to be one of those few foreigners and to have been on the other end of those conversations for the past month.


My Leadership Story Australian Volunteer 3

When I think of my exchange, I think of the wide-eyed, curious children at the orphanage constantly asking me questions about Australia and airplanes and my hometown. I think of the high-schoolers and our conversations on politics, education and how they got away with doing last night’s homework. But most of all, I think of the locals I’ve connected with on a day-to-day basis, the countless lessons on how to live, placing value on the things that you have around you and never taking things for granted. I feel privileged to have indulged in the lives of the people of Tay Ninh. I will always remember fondly of my time spent here.


My name is Linh, I am from Australia and I went on exchange to Vietnam. This is my leadership story, start your own story here: http://opportunities.aiesec.org/



What do you think about Linh’s story? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Leave it to the Adults

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

Young people are often underestimated. We are told to ‘leave it to the adults’ and that ‘our time will come’. But our time is already here. Young people are and have always been achieving incredible things. That is a fact.
It was Kofi Annan who said:

“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.”

There are many brilliant youngt people among us and they are often overlooked. This dates back to a long time ago. Take Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for example. At age 5 he was already playing the violin and the keyboard, composing his own works and performing for royalty. Or Jordan Romero. You may not know his name, but upon hearing what he has achieved, it will leave you in awe. At age 9 he managed to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Or take Malala Yousafzai, a more famous example. She was and is to this day a strong activist for women’s education and back then, when she was shot in the face by terrorists as a teenager, she miraculously survived and became an advocate for education internationally and was even nominated for a Nobel Prize.

As you can see, young people are not to be underestimated. We can achieve incredible things, if we are encouraged to do so. Just imagine how many incredible changes we could have by now if people were encouraged from a very young age to strive for their dreams and to persevere no matter what. Imagine if they weren’t told to wait until they get a degree before attempting to make an impact. Some children are not that impressionable and they don’t let anyone stop them. But many do. And that is why we have to change something. That is why youth achievement needs to be furthered. That is why young people are fundamental. Because we are the future. We are the ones who will make a change. We are the ones with possibilities like no generation before.

Ban Ki Moon said:

“You are already leaders. Your ideas, your actions and your decisions make a difference. More than any other generation, you have a voice. Social networking is changing how we interact – and it can change our world. You are in touch with peers from around the world. You understand the power of instant communication. I appeal to you to use that power for the common good, the power of communication and the power of networking.”

It is our time to start acting because the future is in our hands and there is never a wrong time to start.
Are you living up to your full potential?

Language: A diversity of thought

Blogpost Writer: Frans Astala

Do you remember what it was like to not speak or understand English? At some point, when you’ve become fluent enough in a language, you start taking it for granted. If you are reading this, it’s more likely that you speak English as a second, or even a third language, than your first language since there are more non-native speakers of English than native ones. 

A language is a lens through which we see and understand the world. We think by using a language, and without having the word for something, thinking about it becomes rather difficult. Furthermore,  as we know, reality is a messy thing and things aren’t always black and white. Actually even the way we perceive colors can depend on the language we use to describe them. Many languages, like the African Himba tribe’s language, don’t make a distinction between the colors blue and green, a difference that is rather obvious to English speakers. On the other hand the Himba language makes a more elaborate distinction between different hues of green.  Physically speaking we all see colors in the same way, excluding people with color blindness, it’s just the language that makes us think of them in a different way, and thus end up seeing things differently. Considering how radically differently language can make us see things, even literally, maybe we sometimes take it a little bit too much for granted.

beeplugin_languages

No matter what language you speak in addition to English, you can probably come up with some words or expressions that if not untranslatable, requires quite a bit of explaining. The Scots word “Tartle”, means the panicky hesitation when you’re supposed to introduce someone who’s name you’re not quite sure if you remember correctly. The Finnish word “Myötähäpeä” describes the feeling of being embarrassed or ashamed on someone else’s behalf, often in a situation when the said person doesn’t understand to be embarrassed or ashamed themselves. Even if these words don’t exist in english, they’re understandable. Perhaps you hadn’t even thought of these things as “a thing” before. (http://mentalfloss.com/article/50698/38-wonderful-foreign-words-we-could-use-english)

Languages are a framework for understanding the world. From this point of view, the diversity of languages, and knowing several of them, has intrinsic value. Learning a language doesn’t only allow you to communicate with people you couldn’t communicate with before, it gives you a whole different perspective to things.

But funny words aside, as language is a tool for communication, it can also be used to influence people. Words have a huge power. Consider how, in a political argument, giving a label to someone, immediately relates their arguments to whatever that label entails. Making associations can be used as a tool to gain influence.

101059788-thinkstock-hemera-man-speaking-languages630x354

So what’s the point in knowing different languages? While the dominance of English language makes communicating with people across the globe easier, it also leads to people consuming English language media more than others, which usually reflects the world view, but also the  political views that are prevalent in English speaking countries. Thus, in order to gain a holistic understanding on multifaceted issues, being able to understand sources with a different linguistic, and thus cultural and even maybe most importantly, political perspective, might be useful.

To AIESEC as an organization, living diversity is one of our most important values. To us diversity is about learning from the different ways of life and opinions. Knowing a language can help you in that because it can help you put yourself in another person’s shoes. Diversity has intrinsic value in itself, but in addition to that, learning from other people with a different outlook on things gives depth to your thought, and thus it can also make you smarter.

Powerful Women of History

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

History is full of powerful women who have achieved incredible things and changed the course of history itself. Unfortunately, these incredible women are often overlooked due to the misogynistic tendencies of our society. However, without the incredible contribution of many women, we wouldn’t be at the point where we are today.

One of those women was Mother Teresa, a woman who needs no introduction. Working as an albanian nun, she saved many people stricken by poverty and became an international symbol of selflessness.

Simone de Beauvoir, a french philosopher, wrote “The Second Sex” which was a defining book for the feminist movement. Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a bus, indirectly led to some of the most significant civil rights legislation of American history. Marie Curie, a polish/french scientist, was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize and the first person to receive a Nobel Prize in two separate categories. Queen Elizabeth I, witnessed the defeat of the Spanish Armada leaving Britain to later become one of the world’s dominant superpowers during her reign. 

The list goes on and on. What is important for us is to celebrate the incredible achievements of women all around the world and most importantly to make sure that we can achieve true equality. Young girls should never feel like they cannot achieve something or do something based on their gender. They should have the same opportunities and chances as any man and they shouldn’t feel less than just because of their gender. Women are powerful, they have the power to do incredible things and men shouldn’t stand in the way of that. We should be supporting each other to achieve incredible things because only together can we truly ensure greater times.

It was Kofi Annan who said “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”

 

We must rid the world of gender inequality and promote a future where every person has the space to live their life without fear of persecution.

 

“When men are oppressed it’s a tragedy, when women are oppressed it’s a tradition.” – Letty Cottin Pogrebin

 

We have to strive for a future where all the internal misogyny that has accumulated over centuries is shattered in everyone, because only then do we have the hope to achieve true gender equality.  

 

My body – My business

Beautiful!

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

Women’s rights have progressed in recent years. There are more and more countries that strive to raise standards for women to make opportunities equal for every person in the world. However, there are still many countries where that is not the case and women are subdued to barbaric, antiquated rituals.


This week in SDG X is a novel writing initiative to keep the network and the blog’s loyal readers up-to-date with a brief collection of news directly related to the Global Goals.


The 6th of February marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

According to UNICEF, more than 200 million women in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East are subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The World Health Organization describes FGM as a procedure that causes harm to the genitalia of women without any medical reasons. While the origins of this barbaric ritual are not clear, it dates back at least 2000 years is believed to have been practiced in Ancient Egypt. Fast forward to 2017, there is no need for this kind of invasion into women’s human rights. While health standards are being raised all around the world, procedures like this are still happening.

Malala Yousafzai, women’s activist and youngest Nobel Prize laureate, said:

“We are human beings, we make the traditions so we should have the right to change those traditions”

Just because something has been going on for a long time, doesn’t make it right and doesn’t mean that it should continue. Procedures like FGM are completely purpose and have a hazardous effect on women, not only physically but psychologically and have long term effects.

Every year on the 6th of February all the victims are remembered but something has to be done. We have to take action, for as long as traditions like these are upheld, we will never achieve true equality and the 2030 Agenda will be but a dream.

Mahnaz Afkhami said “Women’s status in society has become the standard by which humanity’s progress toward civility and peace can be measured”

We are all people and while we are all equal, some of us have to endure horrible struggles because of the place they were born in or the background that they have and that is simply unfair. Everybody has the right to make their own choices, especially if these affect their body, their health and well-being.
In AIESEC, our Global Volunteer projects are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and we have many projects where young people go all around the world to help raise awareness about women’s rights and to help empower women all over the globe. It’s a step in the right direction but still we should all stand up for our sisters so that we can achieve true gender equality.

What are you doing about it?

AIESEC is looking to relocate its global headquarters

The Request For Proposals of an office space closes on April 7th, 2017

For the last 20 years, the office of Stichting AIESEC International has been located in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The management has realized it is time to reevaluate the current location of the office given the growth of the organization and its operations. Therefore, on February 27th, 2017, the organization opens a Request For Proposals for an office space for organizations and institutions around the world. The deadline for submission is April 7th, 2017.

The requirements for the space are the following: it shall provide a stable working environment for 24 employees, send/receive post mail and store archive of Stichting AIESEC International, host 7 days meetings for 10-20 more people.

In a long-term perspective, Stichting AIESEC International is looking forward to a fruitful cooperation, in which the organization can offer to the winning institution one or more of its products: virtual & physical engagement with AIESEC’s global stakeholders from youth, private and non-profit sectors, as well as branding through the organization’s global channels.

Stichting AIESEC International is looking to relocate its office between the second semester of 2017 and the first half of 2018.

To access the full information and list of requirements, please follow the link: bit.ly/AIoffice

Youth 4 Global Goals Day 2017

Building the Young Person’s Guideline to Saving the World

The Netherlands, Venlo:  On February 13th, 2017, AIESEC will host Youth4GlobalGoals Day, a one-day event that will bring together top young leaders from 120 countries and territories together with experts from 20 organizations to create inputs for the Young Person’s Guideline to Saving the World. The Guideline will consist of the actions young people can do to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

The event is organized by AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-led organization, as a part of the Youth4GlobalGoals initiative. The initiative aims to promote and stimulate meaningful youth participation in the implementation of the SDGs.

In 2016 the United Nations released the “Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World”, a great initiative to encourage people to take small steps towards the Global Goals. The Future We Want outcome document of Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development refers to young people as “custodians of the future” – highlighting youth as important stakeholders with the critical role of creating a sustainable future for themselves and future generations.  

Therefore, AIESEC aims to create the second guide that will be adapted towards a young audience and include diverse geographical and social perspectives, giving an opportunity to millions of young people to make a positive impact on their communities.

The Guideline will be created with a support of the representatives from Asian Development Bank, Electrolux, PwC, TCS, UNICEF, UNV, UN-Habitat, UNIDO, PVBLIC Foundation, Teach for All, World Vision, Plan International, Water Youth Network. The release date is set for the end of April 2017. The Guideline will be published at youth4globalgoals.org.

The event is open for the participation of media representatives. For further inquiries and media participation, please contact PR Specialist of AIESEC International.

Media contact:

Tanya Landysheva

PR Specialist of AIESEC International

tanyal@ai.aiesec.org