Three reasons to feel hopeful about the world's future – Claire Rogers
The following piece appeared in The Herald Sun on December 28
The burnt Christmas tree in the heart of Sydney, crafted from materials collected in fire-ravaged NSW to support bushfire victims, is an emblem for our scorched land. As bushfires exhaust and choke us, it’s hard to remember Christmas is a time for hope.
2019 remains a tough year, and not just in Australia. Elsewhere, we saw the suppression of rights in Hong Kong boiling into mayhem, the deaths in a Christchurch mosque and then in White Island volcano eruption, and, two once-in-a-lifetime storms in Mozambique, just five weeks apart.
Humanitarians see things changing fast. Poverty is retreating to places hardest to reach. Climate change impact is felt in communities least equipped to cope. Aid workers are under threat of violence, and 70 million of our fellow human beings (35 million of them children) right now have no place to call home.
When things are grim, it’s easy to poison yourself with the bad news – especially when our news feeds are crammed with the bad. We can learn from the challenges, but more importantly let’s draw inspiration from the good happening in our world. We must tell stories of hope.
Here are three pieces of hopeful news you wouldn’t have seen in your feed:
In 2019, children became agents of change
Okay, so you probably have seen Greta Thunberg in your newsfeed. But this inspiring, youngest-ever Time Person of the Year was the symbol of children seen and heard in a new way.
Take 14-year-old Bangladeshi advocate, Dola, who helped stop 600 child marriages in the past two years. When Dola addressed the United Nations this year on the International Day of the Girl, she described an 11th-hour intervention, when she and local police stopped the wedding of a 13-year-old girl as the family gathered for the ceremony
“The girl is now fifteen and she is very happy. She is doing higher study,” Dola told the adults audience in Geneva.
Across the globe, in Uganda, a children’s parliament inspired Marvin, 12, to act and save a life. He friend wasn’t showing up at school. He raised the alarm at the forum and a search ensued. They discovered he’d been left for dead in a bush – a near victim of child sacrifice.
I am so inspired by this generation speaking up. Article 12 of the Children’s Rights Convention states children have the ‘right to express those views freely’.
We should give them what they need, get out their way, and let them transform the world.
Forests – an answer to climate change.
As catastrophic bushfires rage, it’s easy to imagine entire countries unliveable.
A reforestation program has become part of a global solution. World Vision’s Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration activates ‘underground forests’ of sprouting tree stumps, roots and seeds by rediscovering abandoned agricultural techniques, such as pruning.
This restores a healthy cover of trees on landscapes. For example, in Humbo, Ethiopia, in 2006 there were only a few shrubs. Now there’s a vast forest which can be seen in satellite photos from space.
Flash flooding and drought in Humbo have dropped dramatically. Trees have restored the land and strengthened food security. In the 24 countries -- mostly in Asia and Africa – where forests are regenerated, we’ve seen positive impacts on poverty, malnutrition, conflict, terrorism, climate change, and the growing refugee crisis.
We’re on track to eradicate extreme poverty
Gains in the past decade have put within our grasp eradication of the world’s extreme poverty for the first time in human history. With a goal like this in sight, now’s the time to double down our aid and community development efforts.
The share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty dropped to 10 per cent in 2015, down from 16 per cent in 2010 and 36 per cent in 1990.
Decades of humanitarian work has built a warehouse of knowledge about what’s most effective when it comes to poverty, and community empowerment. In the past 20 years, infant mortality halved, and more than one billion people were freed from extreme poverty since 1990.
Four years ago, most of the world adopted the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The first of those is “No poverty’, beautifully expressed in the noble aim of freeing ‘the human race from the tyranny of poverty … to heal and secure our planet.’
By giving communities the tools to lift themselves out of poverty – clean water, education, nutritious farming, business opportunities – together we can shift the world onto a sustainable path.
Let’s find the green shoots from the scorched earth this Christmas. Let’s rejoice in the fragrance of our Christmas trees and be a source of light and hope to others. Let’s tell the good news stories – stories of hope.
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