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.

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!

 

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.

Protect every life-form

Blogpost Writer: Mariana Lainfiesta 

Imagine you’re waking up in the morning and change into an amazing outfit and throw on a black leather jacket. You look in the mirror, wash your face, and apply your cosmetics. You enter your kitchen and prepare a breakfast meal that consists of bacon, eggs, and a slice of bread smeared with margarine. Then, you pour yourself a tall glass of milk before leaving the house to meet a friend at the local zoo.

Amidst this very busy day, did you ever stop to think that perhaps these choices supported practices that harm others?

 1. Clothing 

You’ve probably heard of leather, wool, fur, and silk, common clothing materials that are products of animals. Have you ever considered the animals’ perspectives of wearing pieces of them? Or, how you feel about wearing pieces of preserved flesh or dead skin?

Leather

It is the chemically preserved skins and hides of dead animals such as cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, alligators, kangaroos, elephants, ostriches, dogs, cats, etc. Leather harms the human species too, as the tanning process involves the use of carcinogenic chemicals. 

Wool

Domestic sheep are bred to grow lots of wool, and the shearing process is often quite sloppy, causing many painful injuries. The majority of the world’s sheep used for wool are Merino sheep from Australia bred to have extra wrinkly skin. As wool production declines, sheep are slaughtered for human consumption.

Fur

Be it the fur of a vast variety of animal species including mink, beaver, fox, otter, rabbit, raccoon, skunk, sable, wolf, and many others — If you don’t want an animal’s skin to be stripped off her/his body, do not wear it. There are warmer and fuzzier ways to be warm and fuzzy.

2. Palm Oil 

Palm oil is used in many products including margarine, cereals, sweets, soaps, lotions, and cosmetics. Unfortunately, it can only be cultivated in tropical areas of South America, Africa, and Asia. Rainforests are being devastated by deforestation to make way for palm oil plantation, affecting the residents of these locations. Loss of habitat is causing harm to many, including endangered species such as Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos, Malayan sun bears, and others.

3. Paper 

Many of us are aware that to obtain paper, deforestation occurs, but we haven’t stopped paper production. Do we think about where exactly our paper comes from? 

 

papermaking

4. Dairy 

Over nine million cows are used for dairy production in the United States alone. Cows need to be pregnant or nursing to produce milk, just like us humans and well, any other mammal. Cows are not the exception. Therefore, every year, cows are impregnated. After a nine month gestation period, the calves are stolen from their crying mothers, so their milk can be used as a consumable human health hazard.

You think that at least these cows get to live out their whole lives, right? Wrong. Cows typically live three to five years before their dairy production declines and they are sent off for cheap hamburger meat.

5. Oil 

According to the New York Times, the 2010 oil spill was responsible for the deaths of over 7,000 birds, dolphins, and sea turtles. This is only one example. Oil can affect the insulating abilities of animals such as sea otters. It can clog the pores of dolphins, whales, and manatees. Oil can destroy the waterproof properties of birds’ feathers, impacting their ability to fly and float. It can also be absorbed in an animal’s skin and cause chemical burns.

 

industry-oil-and-gas

6. Cosmetics

It is estimated that over 100 million animals are used for cosmetic testing every year. Species typically used include mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, pigs and other farm animals, dogs, cats, and non-human primates. Animals are not only confined to artificial environments; they are subject to often excruciatingly painful procedures.

7. Soy

Have you stopped eating meat? Soy is a cruelty-free product, right? Not quite. About 80 percent of the world’s soy is grown in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina. Deforestation for soy production threatens biodiversity and many endangered species. Approximately 47 percent of soy is consumed by livestock as cheap feed in place of grass.

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THIS

 Now, imagine you come home at the end of the day and you read about your day’s decisions. You start to think about what you support and consume, and how it may affect others. You act upon your new level of awareness and your new choices benefit other animals, yourself, and the environment. How does it make you feel?

global-goals-15-life-on-land.jpg__731x380_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscale

We can still protect and restore the many endangered species and degraded lands. Don’t look the other way and think how your decisions will affect the world.

Leave NO ONE behind—human or not.

Exfoliate Your Apathy

We all love a good shower. What’s not to love? You get out fresh and clean and any feelings of anger, sadness or anxiety are washed away. And with all the different types of soaps and shampoos, there’s always something new to try and make your shower even more exciting. But is the comfort in your shower worth ruining the environment?


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 the 23rd of February 2017 the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) launched a global campaign to eliminate the use of microplastics and any other kinds of single-use plastics to save our seas and oceans.

“Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables,” Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of UNEP. This is not an issue that we can ignore because ‘it’s just going to be washed away into the ocean’.

Yes, initially it might just be in the ocean, but those plastics are then eaten by all kinds of fish and water creatures, that you end up eating. And whatever plastic isn’t consumed, accumulates and washes up somewhere on the land and ruins the environment and any animals living there.

So really it is our problem, because who wants to eat plastic, whether human or animal? I’m sure Nemo would agree.

The first step to solving this crisis, is raising awareness, because how else are people supposed to do anything if they don’t even know. In AIESEC we have many projects that tackle this issue of plastic waste, and we raise awareness in different communities so that people are more mindful of which plastics they use.

But you don’t have to go abroad to help! There is much you can do at home. Don’t buy the shower gel with microbeads! Let’s be honest, there’s a million ways you can exfoliate your body. When going to the grocery store, bring your own bag and don’t use the plastic bags there only for your convenience. It really does help. Recycle your waste! And when you’re done with all that, make your friends do the same. If we all step it up, we can make sure that our environment isn’t harmed by us.

As Robert Swan said, “The greatest threat to our environment, is the belief that someone else will save it”

Don’t wait until someone else does it. Be the change.

Are you standing up for our environment?

Are you a clone?

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Thought provoking words of Martin Luther King. A very noble dream, a dream that has unfortunately not come to fruition just yet.

March 1st marks the “Zero Discrimination Day”, a day established by the UNAIDS organization, this year focusing on the equality of healthcare, as it is a human right for everybody to have access.

 

Most people seem to think that our world has become very tolerant. “It’s nothing compared to decades ago.” and “I have a gay cousin”. Yes. You might have a gay cousin but do you think that this person is fully accepted into society? Do you think that a woman is viewed upon equally as a man is? Do you think that an african american is not more likely to be suspected of a crime than others? Well the sad answer is no. Discrimination, while having reduced a lot since the past, is still a very relevant topic in today’s society.

As much progress as has been made, any form of discrimination that prevails is unacceptable. You should not feel less than, just because we are not all clones of each other. Our differences are what makes us unique, they’re what makes us interesting. Imagine how dreary our existence would be, if we were all the same. Differences should be celebrated.

And yet, there are still reports of women being raped on college campuses, of violence against people of other origins or with other orientations. What is the point? What makes someone’s heart be so full of hatred and anguish that they would want to cause such harm to others, they don’t even know.

However, discrimination doesn’t just lead to economic and social deficits for minorities. It also has a psychological effect and can often lead to anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. All for what?

Now what is the solution? There are many organisations that work to reduce discrimination everywhere and incredible progress has already been made. The truth is, that the best way to eradicate any form of discrimination is to start with the young generation and make sure that they are open minded, worldly and accept everyone. They need to be in contact with different cultures and different people from an early age on and they need to be shown by the adults that being accepting is not a choice – it should be a given.

In AIESEC we pride ourselves with being tolerant. Among the 70.000 active members across the whole planet, our organization is incredibly diverse and accepting of all people.

In AIESEC we pride ourselves with truly living in diversity. In fact, it is even one of our values. But why we try to ensure that ideal within the organization, there is still a long way ahead in this fight for equality and acceptance of all.

“Defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike.” - Ban Ki Moon

There is a lot that we can and must do to rid ourselves of the discriminatory world that we live in. The first step is to stop discriminating ourselves, which is something that often happens subconsciously. In those moments, take a second and think to yourselves or if your feelings and thoughts are coming from a place of privilege or ignorance? Be conscious and aware of what you say and how you treat people around you. Take more interest in the history, realities, issues of different cultures and communities. Make an effort to be an aware world citizen. If not, then just dismiss them.

We need to be role models for youth, because they look up to the older generation and we have to provide them with an open attitude and an environment of acceptance if we ever hope to live in a world of true equality.

“From Bamako to Baltimore, the right to health belongs to all. On this #ZeroDiscrimination Day let us commit to ensuring everyone, everywhere can access health care safely and live life fully with dignity.” – Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Are you taking action?

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?

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?

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?