Water you doing about it?

As I’m writing this, I’m enjoying a nice cool glass of water. What’s better than that to really quench that thirst. But unfortunately, not everyone has that privilege. This wednesday, March 22nd, marked the World Water Day, a day set in place to tackle the water crisis. To this day, 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of various diseases. Something needs to change!


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.


On wednesday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a report, which states that by 2040, 600 million children – one in four worldwide – will be living in areas with extremely scarce water.

“But around the world, millions of children lack access to safe water – endangering their lives, undermining their health, and jeopardizing their futures,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. According to the report, 36 countries around the world are already facing extremely high levels of water stress. Imagine how many people are living without access to basic, sanitary water. It’s horrifying.

As an outcome of this report, the UN is urging governments and businesses to make changes to ensure access to water for everybody.

It was Thomas Fuller who said “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” In first world countries, water is not something we give much thought. It’s just always there, seemingly limitless and at our disposal practically everywhere. And yet, all around the world people are dying for the very reason that they don’t have access to it. Children in these countries have to spend their days, looking for water instead of having the opportunity to get an education and on these trips they are in danger of many things. It is an issue that may no longer be overlooked by the general public.

We have to help. Now, apart from water saving measures like not leaving the tap running or not showering for 2 hours per day, we can also go out there and actually help on the spot. With AIESEC, you could go to Cambodia and raise awareness in communities about the dangers of unsanitary water and how to tackle the water crisis or you could go to any number of other places and show your support there. It is time to step it up and do something for our fellow human beings. What will happen without our support? Well, maybe the number of children living without water by 2040 will double.

What are you going to do about it?

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

A Homeless Generation of Builders

The me, me and me generation is constantly being told how they are the most narcissistic and spoiled generation in the history of humankind. If you use the amount of selfies as your yardstick, then yes, it might make you believe that the youth of today are more self centered than the generations before. But somehow, millennials also happen to be the most altruistic compared to the older generations.
Millennials think it’s important to engage in work that has a positive impact in the community and contribute to the society; they give to charity and think it’s important to help others; they are also active citizens and engage in volunteering. We are a generation that doesn’t only believe in change, but is doing something about it.
We’re at a point in time in history where we have to start cleaning up the mess that others before us have made. We can either ignore that the change needs to happen, and selfishly deny the responsibility. If we want the next generations to have it as well of as we do, we need to accept that we need to roll up our sleeves and get on with it. A lot of young people choose to make a difference. So perhaps it’s better to talk of Millennials as the “we” generations that doesn’t need to be selfishly motivated to act, but can, and will do it for the world.
What does the world need?
We’re perhaps more aware of global problems than ever. It can be quite overwhelming, especially when the scale of some problems, like climate change, can make you feel very small as an individual. Fortunately a lot of different instances are driving change, and it’s easier than ever to get information about every issue. For example the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the United Nations give quite a comprehensive answer to what are the problems in the world that need to be tackled.
But what does the world need from you?
You’re probably a 20 something year old university student with no complete degree, yet. You don’t have much experience and little to no money. What can you possibly do to help towards eradicating poverty or hunger? You have the passion, but passion alone is not enough. You also need to think how you can help the most. Of course it would be nice to do something Instagram-worthy that you can showcase to your friends. However, in order to maximize your impact it might be worthwhile thinking twice about how to best utilize your time. Many people want to do something concrete to help, like building a school in a developing country. But if you’re a business student, maybe creating a kick ass marketing plan for an NGO can have more of an impact.
It’s important to consider what’s your personal fit for what you’re going to do. You can maximize your impact by doing what you’re best at. Other things to consider are the scale of the problem you want to tackle, quite simply by contributing to solving bigger problems you can have a bigger impact. Sometimes it can also make sense to look at issues that might neglected and not talked about so often for one reason or another, for example problems related sanitation and hygiene in poor regions.
In the end you can contribute a lot even by being willing to take on seemingly small things. Just interacting with people and sometimes giving them a role model can be enough to make a huge impact on individual people’s lives, and that positive impact can produce a ripple effect that can have unforeseen positive consequences. There’s always a way to contribute to no matter your situation and skill-set. Find an opportunity that can help you maximize your impact, your way to do it for the world.

I’m young and selfish. Deal with it!

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

Give me a dollar (or whichever currency is present in your country) for every time someone calls a millennial selfish and self-involved. There is a stigma present about young people these days, that all we care about is ourselves, that we only do things to further our own agenda and that if we had a glass of water and had the option to give it to a person dehydrated, we would drink it ourselves or pour it out. Let me tell you why that mindset can be a good thing.

In the age of new technologies, children are growing up in a completely different way than their grandparents and even their parents. There is access to technology at a much younger age and especially social media seems to be present even in pre-school. But while you may argue that it ‘ruins’ children and makes them vain and selfish from an even younger age, that is not the case.Sure, kids will probably start taking selfies on their way to primary school, but they have a huge advantage to any generation before them. No matter what social media you are on, no matter how hard you are trying to avoid it, information is present everywhere. Young people are educated through social media more than you know. This means, that from a young age, they know much more about the world’s issues. You can’t spin this to make it a bad thing. 

phone-945451_1920k

Now, in AIESEC we send people on exchange. Young people go abroad and do social projects or professional internships. We say, that it’s important to help other people because they might not be as privileged as we are. It’s important to be selfless and give back to our community. But there is nothing wrong with being selfish about your choices. You might only be going abroad to see a country you have never seen before or to make all of your Facebook friends see what an amazing person you are for helping people in need. But who cares? You are still going there and helping them. Other people are still benefitting from your selfishness. Whether or not you choose to post pictures of it all across social media (which does actually have the benefit of raising awareness) or to make all of your friends feel bad for only caring about themselves, someone somewhere will reap the benefits.

The truth is, most of our actions can somehow be traced back to a selfish motive. And that’s okay, because we are all human. Pretending like you’re a Robin Hood type character that never does anything selfish is just a pretentious lie. However, if your selfishness doesn’t harm other people, or even better, actually helps them, then go ahead. Go abroad, snap those pics, slap on a filter and make your friends feel like horrible people. As long as you are doing something good, it really doesn’t matter.

Ayn Rand, a russian-american philosopher and novelist said “Selfishness does not mean only to do things for one’s self. One may do things, affecting others, for his own pleasure and benefit. This is not immoral, but the highest of morality.”

Find a place where you can contribute, be selfish but make sure that you’re helping others in the process. We’re all young and selfish, just deal with it!

Introducing the new AIESEC Opportunity Portal

Rotterdam, the Netherlands: On Monday 20th of March, AIESEC is releasing the completely refreshed version of our main platform – AIESEC Opportunity Portal. Counting 1.3 million users, the platform provides access to over 80,000 volunteering positions and 6,000 job opportunities in 120 countries and territories. The new version aims to make it even easier for young people to quickly find the most relevant experiences all across the world. The updates will enable a seamless experience across mobile and desktop, a new application flow, and support in 5 languages.

What can you expect?

More intuitive: We simplified all our design and navigation so that there’s a better and faster experience for users on our site. We created new pages to access the information needed on every stage of your experience with us.

More consistent: Find additional information about our products, a simplified flow and a clear connection between your physical and virtual experience with AIESEC. The new version showcases our products and how each of them can provide you a different leadership experience.

What is new?

Smarter content: All text displayed in our opportunities on the portal was carefully thought out to provide you the required information for better decision making. Our opportunities now display clearer job description, specifics for each product, a map with the location of the opportunity and our fee.

Access using your phone: We built this version from scratch and you can now see our opportunities on the go! Apply, review your applications, edit your profile or read more about each of our products using your mobile device.

Constant support: Look for the blue bubble in the right bottom of your browser and we will be ready to support you. Also, we created a help center where you can find most of the answers to your questions.

The new AIESEC Opportunity Portal is rolling out globally to all members today. Make sure you experience it live yourself at youth.aiesec.org

Got…Water?

Blogpost Writer: Jakub Wolf

Water is great. We use it in many aspects of our lives, from drinking it to showering in it. We’re practically made of it. But unfortunately, not everyone can access it as easily as some of us.

Did you know that 663 million people on our planet are without water? And at least 1.8 billion people use water that is fecally contaminated! Disgusting, I know. More than 80 percent of wastewater resulting from human activity are discharged into rivers and sea without any pollution removal. Almost 1.000 children die everyday due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoeal diseases. These numbers, as unbelievable as they may sound, are real, displayed on the website of the United Nations. Meanwhile water is something we take so much for granted.

Picture this. You want to cook a meal and you’re rinsing off your vegetables, but you remember that you have to grab something from the other room but instead of turning the tap off, you just leave it running out of pure laziness. Or you’re having a lazy sunday and you decide to shower three times that day. Sound familiar? All these things we do, are not because we hate people in third world countries and we want them to die from dehydration. It’s simply because water is so easily accessible, and seemingly infinite, that we just don’t think about it. I mean, in a developed country you can get water pretty much for free anywhere you want.

But that is exactly why we have so much more responsibility. It’s not that we can’t shower three times a day or wash our dishes for 2 hours. We have to be conscious about it and think when is it really necessary to use water and are we really being as careful as we can be?

In addition to that, we should always be incredibly thankful that the standards of sanitation are so advanced. If in your country, you can drink tap water, you should consider yourself very lucky! There are still many countries in the world where that is not available!

As Deepak Chopra, american author and public speaker, said:

“Although we take it for granted, sanitation is a physical measure that has probably done more to increase human lifespan than any kind of drug or surgery”

Water is an incredibly important part of our lives that we should appreciate much more. Don’t shower for half an hour just because you’re scared of the cold, use your dishwasher or at least when you’re washing the dishes with your hands, don’t spend hours doing it and for pete’s sake, please don’t leave the water running without reason! And spread the word. Make sure that your friends aren’t wasting water either! This is a group effort that we have to fight all together.

Are you up for it?

 

Start cooking and Stop eating pizza

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

Food is awesome. Who doesn’t love a good meal? It lifts our spirits and gets us through the day. And there are so many different options, you’ll always be able to try something new. In that sense, we are very privileged. But not everyone is. There are still many countries, where hunger and starvation are a huge issue. And our consumption and production patterns show a lack of concern for these people. Would we throw away this much food if we cared?


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.


On March 15th an analysis made by the United Nations and humanitarian partners was released, which states that 17 million people in Yemen are hungry, which shows an increase of 20% in the last 9 months. () Due to the conflict in Yemen, the economical situation is disastrous. It’s currently one of the worst hunger crises in the entire world!

Meanwhile, according to the FAO of the United Nations, roughly ⅓ of the food produced for human consumption in the world, which equals to around 1.3 billion tonnes, gets lost or wasted. I’m sure we all had those days, where we simply went out to eat even though we had perfectly good food at home that we just didn’t feel like eating. Some days later, we threw that food away because we never ate it. But for some people food isn’t a source of entertainment or some kind of hobby. It it literally the thing that stands between life and death.

In AIESEC we have many projects, where you can go abroad and help those people in need. In Malaysia, for example, being a melting pot of cultures, there is a lot of different cuisines there. However, around 15.000 tonnes of food are wasted there every day. With AIESEC you can go there, raise awareness and contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 12. Every bit helps. If you don’t want to go abroad, there are still things you can do at home. Next time you are shopping for food, make sure you aren’t buying excessive amounts that will just end up in the trash. You know yourself, you know what you like and you know how much you can eat. And whenever you have food at home, don’t go out to eat. Cook yourself a nice meal at home and I guarantee that it will taste a lot better than anything else you can get at a restaurant (or a food truck, I don’t judge).

And finally, this is not a one man effort. Tell your friends not to waste food, tell them about the people in Yemen and be an ambassador for sustainable consumption!

 

No risk, no fun!

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

How often do we plan things out in life, only for them to go a completely different way than we anticipated? Of course, then we have to start looking for solutions because otherwise the problem will never be fixed. But, how is it that some people just magically seem to always have the right answer for any situation that arises? Are they magicians? Or some kind of ritualists? Nope. They are risk takers.

Things in life almost never go smoothly and exactly as planned. But there are certain situations, where sometimes what we come up with on the spot is a lot better than what we planned. With all the stress and adrenaline running wild, our brains sometimes really save us. It is those situations that show us, how far we are willing to go for the success of our project.

Risks are a complicated thing. Many people are very comfortable with being safe and plan everything ahead and if it doesn’t work out then ‘oh well’. But what is it that makes a great leader? They are not scared of taking risks, when needed. Of course, this doesn’t mean gambling away your profits because they ‘could triple them’ but it means taking calculated risks, in situations where good leadership is necessary. That is what differentiates a good leader from a great leader.

It was T.S. Eliot, a british poet, who said “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”  We all have limits, but we usually underestimate them a lot. Whether it’s out of fear or other reasons, we often don’t push ourselves enough to truly reach our limits. Risk taking is pushing. How can you know that your project won’t be even more incredible if you just make that one decision that could potentially have a negative effect?

Robert F. Kennedy said “Only those who dare greatly can ever achieve greatly”.

Leadership is a difficult term to describe. It’s a very personal thing and definitions differ greatly. In AIESEC we have defined it with 4 personality traits: being a world citizen, empowering others, being self aware and last but not least, solution oriented. The last one is vital, since working in a youth led organization can sometimes be very unpredictable, you always have to search for solutions when something doesn’t go your way and taking risks is part of that.

If you feel like you have grown as much as you can and have already become the person that you want to be, that’s fine. But know, that growth only stops when you want it to. Some of us have higher ambitions than that. Taking risks is something worth getting used to, to really test your limits. Be brave and step out of your comfort zone.

Now tell me, are you a risk taker?

What are you doing? Stop wasting!

Blogpost Writer: Mariana Lainfiesta 

There you are, sitting at the restaurant having a laugh with your friends, and you completely forget about the dish in front of you getting cold. Hours pass, and you end up eating only half of the portion you asked for and leave without a moment’s pause because you ended with a full and happy stomach.

Did you know that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted annually?

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 09.07.34

Sadly enough, some countries are greater culprits than others; according to the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN), the total amount of food wasted in the U.S. exceeds that of the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, France, and Germany combined. Moreover, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that global food production accounts for 70 percent of fresh water use and 80 percent of deforestation. Food production is also the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and creates at least 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

If you want to make a difference, there’s no excuse to do so. UNEP recently launched Think.Eat.Save, an initiative that is working with groups around the world to develop and coordinate projects to prevent the environmental problems that can result from food loss and food waste.

Be part of the U.N. initiative and support the Sustainable Development Goal #12: Responsible consumption and production by working to reduce the tremendous food waste and loss that occurs throughout the world.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 09.07.48

You’re probably wonder, how can I do it though?

We’ve compiled a list of 5 organizations working in restaurants, businesses, and on farms to make sure all of the labor and natural resources that go into growing, processing, and marketing food doesn’t go to waste.

  1. Culinary Misfits (Berlin, Germany) –Started by two friends, Culinary Misfits seeks out the ugly vegetables at grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants and turns them into delectable dishes at the events they cater in the city.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 09.07.58

  1. FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) (European Union) – After recognizing that the European Union discards approximately 89 million tons of food every year, Brussels has pledged, through the FUSIONS program, to reduce that number by half by the year 2025. Currently in development, FUSIONS hopes to tackle the issue throughout the supply chain, working with farmers so that they don’t reject less-than-perfect-looking produce. And they work with grocery stores to offer discounts to consumers on products that are nearing their expiration dates.
  1. Think.Eat.Save (International) – This initiative, launched by the U.N. Environment Programme and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, works to reverse food loss and food waste by providing consumers, retailers, leaders and the community with advice and ways to take action to reduce their yearly food waste.  The campaign aggregates and shares different methods of conserving food, including policy recommendations and steps that consumers and households can take on their own to prevent waste.
  1. Sanford and Son (Illinois, United States) – Sanford and Son is a father-and-son company that works in the West Side of Chicago to repurpose food waste for urban farms. Ray Sanford and his son Nigel recycle food waste from restaurants and private homes and convert it into organic compost, which is then distributed to urban farms to use as fertilizer. They claim to save 226 kilograms (500 pounds) of organic waste for each family that uses their composting services.
  1. DC Central Kitchen (District of Columbia, United States) – From the 370,131 kilograms (816,000 pounds) of food it recovered in 2011, DC Central Kitchen provided almost 2 million meals to those in need in the DC area.  In addition to recovering food from organizations and restaurants, DC Central also offers local farmers fair prices for their produce, helping to contribute to the local economy.

These initiatives cover a wide range of sectors – private businesses, universities,and  nonprofit organizations – and illustrate the extent to which collaboration is the key to change.

Join us and let’s make a change together. Leave no one behind.

On consumer rights and the right to consume

Think about all the things you buy on a weekly basis. All the clothes, food and the commuting you do, all the things that produce a carbon footprint, which is pretty much encompasses everything we do in a modern society. Would you be able to cut down 3 fourths of it, and get by with only the 25%? If you are living a modern lifestyle – that’s what you might have to do in order to reach a level of consumption that is sustainable.

 

 

In 1962 Kennedy gave a speech in the congress which later became to be known as the consumer bill of rights, the date of that speech, the 15th of March,  later became the world consumer rights day.  With all the material wealth that the 20th century brought to the now developed countries, we started thinking more and more of ourselves in terms of consumers, and consumers that have rights.  Somewhere along the line people also woke up to the fact that growth and consumerism had a negative side effect, the inconvenient fact that we’re running out of resources on this planet. In fact, today globally, we are using 1,6 times the resources than what we actually can use sustainably on this planet.

 

Fortunately, nowadays we have more and more options for sustainable consumption as people are increasingly aware of the effect their daily choices have on the environment. Still every year we overstep the boundary of the sustainable level of consumption earlier and earlier.  In 2016, we did that already on the 8th of August.

 

Yet not everyone has the luxury of buying ethical products and for the large part of people on earth consumption is about making the ends meet, and having the most basic things in life.

 

It’s undeniable that in the quest for a higher standard of living through economic growth, the developing countries can’t be following the footsteps of industrialized countries. There are more than 1 billion cars driving the roads of the world today. In the next decades that number is predicted to double only by the contribution of the growing number of cars in China. But how could one deny people the right to a higher standard of living?  Poverty is a very complex phenomenon, but it is most importantly about not being able to satisfy the most basic material needs. And the fulfillment of these needs requires production.

 

maracaibo-99623_1920

 

The question is how can we work together to get to a level of consumption that will be fair for all yet sustainable at the same time.

 

We all make decisions as consumers everyday. Those decisions, no matter how small, all add up to the bigger picture. As consumers we have rights, but we also have responsibilities to make the decisions that are sustainable. Acting sustainably is one of the core values of AIESEC. We also want people to believe in their ability to make a difference in the world, because the change starts with you and environmental sustainability requires actions from all of us.

 

The kinds of problems we face today on the global level are so connected that we all need to be able to work together to find a solution. We want to develop people who engage with others to achieve a bigger purpose.  So it’s not only about what decisions you make, it’s about what other people do too, and in order for people to make the right choices, we need awareness. AIESEC works with the Sustainable Development Goals through numerous volunteering projects around the world. Find your opportunity to contribute here.

 

Stop stuffing your face

Blogpost Writer: Jakub Wolf

Do you remember that time when your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you? Or a time when you were incredible overwhelmed by your studies and your job and everything going on in your life? It is those times when some of us decide that we need food to make it all better. We start eating and eating and eating and we don’t stop. This so-called stress eating might make you feel better temporarily but usually after some time we all regret it. Well, it is this kind of unmindful consumption that is harming our planet. We buy way too much food, we eat half of it and throw the rest away.

Or take this for an example. It’s christmas, the whole family comes together and you all cook together and have a lovely time. Afterwards when you’re cleaning up, you realize that you cooked way too much food and it all goes in the trash.

Let me tell you a fact. Did you know that of the 4 billion metric tones of food produced, ¼ is either lost or wasted? That’s 1 billion metric tones, in case you didn’t do the math. Now think about this: how many people is there in the world who are starving and who’s cause of death is actually lack of food? Many. Very many. Meanwhile, the more fortunate of us, who have easy access to food just throw it all away without blinking.

The Global Goals website displays a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh which says: “The situation the Earth is in today has been created by unmindful production and unmindful consumption. We consume to forget our worries and our anxieties. Tranquilising ourselves with over-consumption is not the way”

But of course it’s not all our fault. We, the consumers, only buy what is available. According to Business Insider 10% of the annual food waste comes from supermarkets. The truth is, that we just have it too good. You enter a supermarket, and you see so many different options, that you don’t even know what you want to eat anymore. You go in thinking about that sweet frozen pizza and you come out with jasmine rice, ginger and some unpronounceable spice that the sales assistant assured you would be incredible. And that is incredible, because we have the chance to experience food from different places and try out new things. But if these things don’t sell, they go in the trash.

There has to be a balance found between consumption and production. We have to commit, that once we buy something, we will consume it one way or the other. The food that is left, you can give it to a shelter or give it to your neighbor or bring it to work. There is always a way to pass it on, we just don’t do it out of sheer laziness.

The time where we don’t care about sustainable consumption and production has passed. Be conscious about what you’re buying and make sure that none if it is wasted.