Stub out for (the common) good

More than 10% of all deaths globally are caused by smoking. World Health Organization calls the tobacco epidemic one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever facedThe Sustainable Development Goal 3 (target 3.a) seeks to reduce tobacco use. With the harms quite obviously outweighing the supposed benefits, you’d think that smoking was on the way out. And it is – in most places. The EU has regulated smoking in restaurants, and many countries have imposed stricter rules, regulating when and where you’re allowed to light up. In 2014 the government of Finland set a goal of the whole country being smoke free by 2040. In many places less and less young people are picking up the habit.

 

 

But like many things in the world, the harm is not distributed evenly. According to the WHO, almost 80% of all the smokers globally live in low- and middle-income countries, which are also hit the hardest by the related illnesses and death. With the number of smokers steadily decreasing globally, tobacco companies are looking for new markets, and sometimes using rather intensive advertising strategies. In contrast to the rest of the world, the number of smokers is actually increasing in the regions of the eastern Mediterranean, and especially in the sub-Saharan Africa.

 

There’s also a lot of cultural factors that go into smoking. A prestige can be associated to certain brands that are usually foreign. A pack of cigarettes is sometimes called the cheapest status symbol in the world. The number of women who smoke is also increasing in some countries, which can be a way for women to signal independence. And all smokers do know that the best gossip is always in the smoking area. But given the deadliness of the habit, everyone should at least be aware of its effects.

 

 

In the end smoking is an individual choice. But it’s a choice that has consequences. In addition to those 6 million people dying from smoking each year, an estimated 890 000 people die from second-hand smoke. That’s a lot from an individual choice someone else made. As tomorrow is the World No Tobacco Day, it might be a good idea to consider if smoking is something that’s really in accordance to your personal values, or would you rather take responsibility for improving our common environment. But if you still choose to light up, please mind those around you.

 

Still relevant.

For the past 2 days, countries in Europe have been celebrating Victory Day, the day that the Second World War ended in Europe. The United Nations declared the 8th and 9th of May as the Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War. It draws attention to what was the most important outcome of the war. That is not which countries were on the winning side, but what was the price to pay for the war. It is estimated that over 50 million people died because of the war, both civilians and soldiers. Many countries lost a significant portion of their population, and perhaps the most shocking event of the 20th century, the Holocaust, took place. The scale and the brutality make the second world war the deadliest conflict in all of human history.

 

 

And for the hope that that record will never be broken, AIESEC was founded. It can be hard to relate to how people felt in the years following the war. There was a relief that the killing had ended, but there must have been a sense of disappointment in humanity. The Nuclear bombs developed and used during the war showed how efficient the human mind is with coming up with ways to obliterate one another.

 

A group of young people came to the conclusion that the key to preventing a war like that ever happening again was cross-cultural understanding. Zealous nationalism had created an atmosphere of hatred before the war.  By developing leadership among the youth we would prevent this from happening. They founded AIESEC, an organization striving to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential.

 

 

Unfortunately conflicts haven’t ended, but nothing in the scale of the second world war has happened since. As time passes, there aren’t so many people left anymore who actually remember the war, reminding us how it was. History is bound to repeat itself, and that’s exactly why it’s important to carry on the legacy. The economic stagnation has weakened the belief in future for many, and now we’re hearing voices reminiscent of those before the war, looking for “the other” to blame. And this is not just in Europe, but all around the world. Although AIESEC was founded in Europe, it has grown into a truly global organization being represented in more than 120 countries and territories. AIESEC aims  to engage young people all around the world and to challenge them. Increasing cross-cultural understanding is still relevant, and this is why AIESEC keeps working on developing leadership in youth through providing cross-cultural experiences. This is the AIESEC way. AIESEC is still relevant, but aren’t we all responsible for achieving peace? We place our confidence in youth, yet leadership must always be taken up by the individual. It is a quality that can be developed in anyone.

 

 

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

 

Why should youth care about the sustainability?

Exactly one year ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. During this time the initiative Youth4GlobalGoals become one of most powerful movements towards the SDGs. The reach has crossed more than 120 countries and territories around the world.

According to the YouthSpeak Survey results, only 46% of young people know about the SDGs. However, they are the ones who will experience the consequences of implementation of the Goals the most. The level of engagement of young people in the Agenda today will directly result in the state of the world in 2030.

While majority (68%) believes the society will be in better state in 2030, young people still ask the question about who is responsible for implementing the SDGs. In reality, youth still relies on the public sector while it’s partnership between public, private sectors and civil society that will be a key to success this time.

Starting from the adoption of the SDGs, the United Nations has created The Lazy Person’s Guide to Save the World, which outlines kinds of small actions that will help to achieve the SDGs. AIESEC believes that each and every young person can play an active role in the Agenda.

Youth 4 Global Goals campaign was created to mobilise young people to take action towards the SDGs. It has a set of initiatives aimed to make people aware about the Global Goals, understand them and act:

  • Youth Speak Survey: the survey got 162,292 answers until today, engaging people across more than 120 countries. The result is the voice of Millennials giving an opinion about what SDGs they would act upon, what kind of motives and fears they have.

  • Youth Speak Forum: an event realized around the world that brings together young and senior leaders to form a space for inspiring conversations and creation of actionable ideas around global issues. In various countries governments and UN agencies have supported the event. The output taken from the Latin American version was presented in PrepCom3 in July that presents youth inputs to new Urban agenda. During the last 6 months event was run in 121 location engaging 23,500 people.

  • Youth Speak Projects: considering the insights got in the Survey, AIESEC is running the social projects around SDGs and Millennials needs. This is how a young person gets an opportunity to directly contribute to an issue he or she relates the most to, while developing the leadership potential.

Organizations like Asian Development Bank, PVBLIC Foundation and UN Habitat were the founding partners of the campaign and many more are joining the movement now.

To learn more about the Youth4GlobalGoals campaign, visit youth4globalgoals.org

Visit the website! Y4GG

Tanya Landysheva

Global Head of Public Relations

AIESEC

tanyal@ai.aiesec.org

Embracing Diversity

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An estimated 100 billion people have been born since the dawn of time. These people

have had different appearances, come from different countries and territories, have

been brought up with different mindsets and have spoken different languages. They

have eaten different food, have had different lifestyles and have belonged to

different generations.

The only sure trait that every single person has had in common is that they were all

unequivocally unique and different.

This is what we call diversity.

 

Embracing Diversity

More and more, we see an emphasis on “accepting and embracing diversity” in both

our professional and personal lives. Socially and politically, there is a huge focus on

eliminating discrimination of any kind and equalizing the treatment of every

individual.

To some, embracing diversity exists only on a surface level. Tolerating and accepting a

different culture, different lifestyle or a different way of thinking is just that –

tolerance. This is by no means negative, but embracing takes much more effort and

much more understanding, and the benefits are much greater as well.

 

Let’s take a deep dive

Every person you have ever walked past, spoken to, befriended or ignored – they have

had a lifetime of experiences that shaped them into who they are today.

Instead of generalising, accepting and tolerating a group of people, assess a person

and interact with them on an individual basis. Ignore the labels that are placed on an

individual (nationality, religion, age, gender) and purely look at the experiences that

have shaped him/her. Understand and appreciate how these different experiences

and upbringings add on to their character.

Put yourself in their shoes and make a connection to their experiences. You don’t

have to love every single difference – just understand and appreciate them.

That is embracing diversity.

 

The Benefits

When we acknowledge these differences, embrace them, and respect them, we can

accomplish what we never thought was possible. We can join ideas together, birthing

from different environments, mindsets and perspectives. We can forge more efficient

teams combining a variety of strengths and experiences. We can be surprised with the

connections we make to a person who is different than us.

Most of all, we appreciate a person so much more after embracing their diversity and

what makes them different – their trials and tribulations. Everyone is different – no

two lives are the same. Sympathize, emphasize and appreciate differences.

 

Putting it into Action

All it takes to be understanding is to start a conversation.

In the next 2 weeks, more than 800 delegates from over 118 countries and territories

will gather in India at AIESEC’s International Congress 2015. We invite you to join us

virtually through our live stream and enjoy conversing with young people from all

over the world.

What inspired me to come back to AIESEC

With a youth population in Cambodia under the age of thirty making up 68% of the 14.8 million people and a GDP growth rate of 7%, Cambodia is a young country with a lot of energy and potential.

The Global Leaders Summit 2015 in Phnom Penh hosted by AIESEC brings together 200 young leaders from AIESEC’s network of 125 countries and territories. Emily Jones who was invited to chair the conference is a former AIESECer and was Director of Western Europe & North America with AIESEC International in 2009-2010. Originating from AIESEC in Canada, she led the the entity as President in 2008-09, and is now as Associate Lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Business School, teaching students about critical thinking in business.

When asked about her initial thoughts after being away for 5 years, Emily responded with: “The energy, passion and the belief that people have in AIESEC’s mission is refreshing and exciting to experience after having left the organization 5 years ago. To be back in an environment where there is a constant sense of urgency and purpose that is shared amongst everyone reinforces my belief in the journey that AIESEC offers young people.”

AIESEC Conference

“What struck me was how people were making decisions with responsibility and having deep conversations to better understand issues at hand” continued Emily.

Emily’s advice to young people in AIESEC was to not under-estimate the power of the opportunities that AIESEC gives them and to understand that it is very rare at a young age that we are given such real responsibilities.

When asked why Emily accepted the invitation, she responded: “I really wanted to give back to the organization that has given me so much during my years in AIESEC.”

 

 

AIESEC’s Voice at the United Nations on the Post-2015 Agenda

Here at AIESEC, we are no stranger to the belief that youth have the power to change the world. We are in the business of changing lives and giving young people the opportunity to become ethical leaders—all while moving towards our vision: peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential.

Earlier in the month, AIESEC took part in the UN ECOSOC Youth Forum, with Karolina Piotrowska, AIESEC International’s VP PR, speaking on behalf of UN Major Group on Children and Youth .

The topic of the forum was: Youth Engagement in the Transition from MDGs to SDGs.

AIESECUNYouthForum

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established following the Millennium Summit of the UN in 2000, and consist of eight international development goals to achieve by 2015, ranging from eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, to promoting gender equality, to ensuring environmental sustainability.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) refer to the development and proposal of a set of future international development goals beyond 2015. They are to be integrated into the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The Post-2015 Agenda, then, is a process led by the UN which will aim to help define the future global development framework, in order to review the progress of the MDGs and advance the development agenda beyond 2015.

Of course, these are all very relevant global initiatives to enact change to better the planet. But where do youth come in? Rather, how can young people become involved with such lofty international agendas?

During the Youth Forum, youth leaders came into dialogue with Member States, in order to contribute to policy formulation. They were also given the opportunity to offer their own perspective on specific issues relevant to youth, as well as the broader role of young people in enabling and promoting sustainable development.

The question the forum sought to answer was: how can youth become meaningfully involved in the implementation of the Agenda, though every step of the way? How can we engage youth—that is, the 1.8 billion young people making up a quarter of the earth’s population—in changing and shaping the world into a better place?

UN ECOSOC Youth Forum

Source: UN ECOSOC Website

Start from the Bottom

The grassroots level is “crucially important”. Change happens from the bottom-up, which means it is impossible to ignore the local level because here is exactly where the change detailed in the MDGs/SDGs is supposed to happen. Governments, then, should create opportunities for youth to participate in events that will allow their voice to be heard in decision-making processes. For example, Youth Forums, peer-to-peer training, and capacity building at the grassroots level will empower youth to realize the scope of their potential impact. International knowledge, such as about the SDGs, should also be introduced and embedded into education systems worldwide. There should be no reason for youth to suffer in ignorance of the impact they can be making.

Collaboration on all Fronts

With the SDGs, multi-stakeholder and cross-sector collaboration are also hugely important for implementation. Everyone should come together as a whole to make change happen. This would require a keen knowledge and awareness of differing power dynamics and varying interests of each stakeholder, and being mindful thereof. This would include being aware of cultural differences, of course, but also working with human differences in order to become more influential overall, and together. Furthermore, we should create more opportunities for youth representation and participation by allowing collaboration with youth and including them as stakeholders. For example, reducing formal restrictions on minimum age and setting quotas for companies and governments to employ young people would help achieve this.

Accountability via Transparency

The world today is interconnected a thousand times over via information and communications technology (ICT). The question of the matter now, is how to utilize these channels in a smart, efficient way to engage youth–to raise awareness and education people about the goals. There are various channels of online and offline media that will allow significant reach towards youth, and have the SDGs embedded into their daily lives. However, we also cannot forget the people who do not have the privilege of access to online resources; therefore, offline channels and traditional media should also be used, such as mobile phones and radios, in order to involve community leaders, local organizations, and NGOs.

Awareness & Education

What these all boil down to, is the importance of raising awareness and educating people about these goals. Individuals themselves become very important stakeholders in these global promises once they realize what the SDGs are and what they can do to further the goals. The same rule applies to the private sector; once we have raised awareness and given companies a reason as to why they should be paying attention to cross-sector partnerships and supporting the accomplishment of the SDGs, we will have created a common destination.

Furthermore, awareness is what will also allow the people to hold their governments accountable. By raising awareness, we will increase the visibility of the common vision, and simplify the communication to build partnerships that will facilitate capacity-building. This will then allow all the stakeholders involved to come together and not only implement but accomplish these goals, changing the world for the better.

In summary, the importance of youth engagement is critical at a time where the United Nations will launch a series of goals that will require the youth today to carry on the legacy tomorrow. The answer is clear. Young people need to carry the torch and our current leaders need to ensure that young people are engaged and feel a sense of ownership towards these long-term  initiatives if we are to see success.

For more information on the ECOSOC Youth Forum, check out their website here. You can also find out more about the MDGs here and an overview on the Post-2015 Agenda and the Action 2015 initiative here.

AIESEC Participates at UN ECOSOC Forum on Youth

This generation of young people – the largest the world has ever seen – has a historic opportunity to end poverty, combat climate change, create jobs and fight injustice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a Youth Forum at UN Headquarters in New York this morning as he called on the participants to get involved in shaping a future sustainable development agenda.

Today, there are 1.8 billion young people, representing one quarter of the world’s population. Many struggle to find work, and are often hit hardest in conflict. The Secretary-General says that it is time now to see this huge cohort as a force of change that harbours the ingenuity and creativity to help solve the world’s most daunting challenges.

The event started with a keynote address urging an uptick in investment for children around the world, children’s activist and 2007 International Children’s Peace Prize Winner, Thandiwe Chama, called on delegates to be “on the right side of history” and place “our rights, the rights of children and youth, at the heart of the SDG agenda.”

“There’s no doubt that young people are facing multiple challenges to meet their potential but they are not giving up,” emphasized Youth Envoy Mr. Alhendawi.

“Everywhere I go, I see how the youth want to be connected to the United Nations; they will not miss any opportunity to volunteer and to advocate. They will participate at the Model UN just to simulate what’s happening in the rooms with delegates. Today we are not simulating. This is the United Nations in action.”

As the UN representative on all things relating to young people, Mr. Alhendawi said that a “sense of ownership” is critical to the success of the future sustainable development agenda. The 1.8 billion young people worldwide are ready to “carry their share” of the post-2015 development.

AIESEC representatives Karolina Piotrowska and Tala Mansi are present at the forum to voice our opinions in the role of Youth in light of the upcoming launch of the UN SDG’s.

AIESEC Karolina Piotrowska

Karolina Piotrowska representing the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations

AIESEC United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum

Tala Mansi from AIESEC speaking about Youth at the forum

Tala Mansi spoke on the panel voicing “the importance of youth development, bridging the gap between employment and education, and creating individual commitment and awareness of SDG’s from the bottom up.”

The engagement of young people is key to ensuring the successes of the SDG’s as young people will be the ones implementing these large global initiatives. AIESEC has engaged tens of thousands of young people in voicing up their opinions via the YouthSpeak survey where it captures their opinions on the challenges they face in reaching their fullest potential.

We further encourage young people to take ownership of the issues they care about and not sit still waiting for change to come. As we firmly believe that the world needs new leaders and our generation are the ones who need to step up, have courage and stand up for what matters to us.

The world needs your leadership and it’s your time to step up and take responsibility. When was the last time you spoke up about issues that mattered to you?

You can learn more about the ECOSOC Youth forum here.

 

 

25 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall – stories of AIESEC’s youth of 1989

The first thing you get to know when you hear about AIESEC is that it was established in 1948 with the aim of creating a new leaders’ generation: the generation which would avoid the Second World War’s horrors.

Years have passed, but our motto is still the same: “Peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential

But in the 1989, the risk of a third world war loomed like never before, and the epicentre, was once again, in Berlin.

Luckily things went differently: the wall fell down and the iron curtain itself was down for good. After one of the most dreadful times in our history there has come a new chapter in the life of many people, and AIESEC was there.

10268530_10204942813432615_5368278937817466925_nStefano Boccaletti, Leonardo Cullurà and Claudia Siracusa, three generations of leaders were in Berlin of the night of November 19, 989.

A month ago I had the pleasure to meet them and to hear their stories.

Claudia started up:

“I just became an AIESEC member and I had to find an excuse to justify my getaway in the middle of semester. I told my father that I had been awarded with a journey for my scholar merits, but the lie was definitely worth it!!!”

For Stefano that would have been one of his last international meetings since he was close to the end of his term and he wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

“The night of the 9th of November, was set in my AIESECers’ agenda as an outdoor global pyjama’s party. Suddenly, someone started shouting in German, that “the wall is being demolished”. None of the Italian delegates could speak German but it didn’t take long for us to understand what was happening.”

Leonardo told us that they have managed to steal a street sign to use it as a hammer. Suddenly they saw Claudia jumping on the wall and singing it with a few Danish.

The emotion and the trembling voice while telling us the story is beyond imagination.

The year after that, Claudia has become the AIESEC Brescia’s Local Chapter President, while Leonardo was voted the President  of AIESEC in Italy. In their motivational speeches they both reminded that it is us, young people, who can change the future.

Ana Julea, AIESEC in Italy

 

See the inspiring story of AIESEC’s first Secretary General, Victor Loewenstein:

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Victor Loewenstein’s Berlin Wall Story 

The Race to Improving the World Beyond 2015

Did you know there are only 500 days left until the end of the Millennium Development Goals?

As 2015 is slowly approaching, the world is closely watching to witness the accomplishments of the 8 MDGs, set by the United Nations back in the year 2000.

So where are we now? How much did we achieve?

“The world has reduced extreme poverty by half, efforts in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis have shown results, access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people”, etc. says The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at the goals and progress reports from this video:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, but 1 in 5 still live on less than 1.25 dollars per day in developing countries. And although the world has reduced extreme poverty in half, 842 million people around the world still suffer from chronic hunger.

2. Achieve universal primary education – The number of children with no access to primary school education decreased from 102 million in 2000 to 58 million in 2012. While the amount has significantly decreased, the number of out-of-school children is still alarming.

3. Reduce child mortalityUnder-5 mortality rate was reduced almost by 50%, but a lot more needs to be achieved if we want to achieve 2/3 reduction.

4. Improve maternal health – Maternal mortality ratio is down 45% since 1990. However, every day about 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

5. Ensure environmental sustainability – Since 2012, 2.3 billion more have access to improved drinking water, but 748 million still use water from an unimproved source.

For more statistics, take a look at:

 

While we ought to celebrate our achievements and recognize the progress we’ve made, we shouldn’t forget how far the world is from where we want it to be. Working on these issues is not priority only now or only until 2015, but every day.

How can we contribute to this?

On August 19th 2014, 700 young people from 124 countries and territories gathered at the Global Youth to Business Forum, an event bringing together top young leaders and experts, business and thought leaders, with the aim of generating new, actionable ideas that will impact the world and its future.

Y2B

They spent the whole day discussing the topics ranging from Diversity and Inclusion, Technology and Innovation to Climate Change, Sustainability and Changing Education. Together, they have come up with action steps that could help improve each of those areas and move the world forward. Stay tuned for our report to find out about the solutions youth and business co-created together!

Don’t forget that we have only 500 days left until MDGs. At the same time, let’s not forget that impact is a daily responsibility. This is why AIESEC offers volunteer internships that help tackle social topics such as cultural understanding, education and literacy, social entrepreneurship, environment, health and lifestyle and many others. For more information, please visit: http://globalcitizen.aiesec.org

This is how we contribute to making an impact every day and helping move this world forward. Share with us:

How will you contribute to bringing the world closer to the vision of 2015?