UNITED IN A COMMON PURPOSE
SOLIDARITY: unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group. (Oxford Dictionary)
The UN’s millennium declaration
In 2005, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly announced that International Solidarity Day would take place on Dec 20 each year. This annual event is to raise awareness of the importance of global solidarity in working towards eliminating poverty in all nations.
World leaders identified solidarity as one of the universal values that are critical to international relations.
Leaders emphasised, “Global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes the costs and burdens fairly in accordance with basic principles of equity and social justice. Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.”
With continued and deepening socio-economic issues, and the increasing pace of globalisation – poverty numbers continue to increase.
According to Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund), 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. At this rate, the millennium declaration goal to reduce this number is far from being realised.
These statistics are of course skewed to certain regions and countries with consistent poor governance and implementation of strategy, but regardless of circumstance we should all focus on what we can do at home, and to capitalise on what is within our control.
To realise this global initiative we all need to work together. Eradicating poverty is a collective effort that is realised by first looking after the people in your own community. Solidarity first at home, then afar.
It starts at home
In the book titled The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time by Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and head of the UN’s millennium project, suggests there are key big picture factors that have led some nations to poverty.
These include government policies, physical geography of a community, civil rights, corruption, cultural barriers, war and ineffective trade relations.
In the context of an individual, these big picture factors might seem daunting in terms of effecting change.
By focusing on issues and interventions at ground level – through local community solidarity, we can equip people and families to break the cycle of poverty, and instil new economic value and sustainability through:
It is the critical factor for sustainable change in communities. Children are given the knowledge and life skills for personal and professional growth.
The keys to success include teacher selection and training, building of schools, setting the curriculum, and setting the tone for fair and equitable education – which means an all-inclusive student population regardless of race, religion or gender.
It is an important immediate response to current illness in a community, and to inoculate people as a preventative measure.
Part of this intervention involves engaging with community leaders through information sharing, and educating the public on effectively managing and cultivating resources of food, water and sanitation.
Apart from giving children and adults an academic start, people need to believe in themselves as well as the collective effort and power of their communities.
Empowered communities are effective in making immediate and long term change. They continue to shape their own future by being aware of their rights and by taking active roles within their communities.
A truly sustainable community involves empowering children to express their views and make decisions that will shape their future and influence the people around them.
Corporate social responsibility
Companies can help eradicate poverty by engaging directly with their community. Solidarity initiatives and projects can come from within a corporate organisation – in simple terms, corporate social responsibility (CSR).
At times, a CSR programme is an underutilised tool because of varying levels of commitment and consistency.
From the standpoint of fulfilling a minimum requirement, a CSR might look like engaging an underprivileged group for a photo opportunity, and to present them with an oversized cheque.
A CSR delivered with heart and commitment can elevate company staff to become inspiring community leaders, and to create a sustainable effect in reducing poverty in areas of their local community.
Corporates are in the best position to carry out sustainable community development because of their instant access to labour resource to carry out a task; with strategic minds and capabilities to deliver projects efficiently.
Last but not least, corporates have an allocation of CSR funding that is provided on a yearly basis – which does not include the money that can be generated from internal fundraising initiatives.
Given the credibility of most organisations, there is opportunity to influence at an industry and governance level.
By definition of the UN General Assembly, “Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.”
In terms of ‘those who benefit the most’, I believe they are specifically referring to the corporates.
CSR projects may include:
1 Financial contributions
Pure donations-based initiatives provide an immediate and effective means to fix urgent individual and community problems.
2 Soup kitchens
A great way to connect with and nourish people in our community. Through conversation it’s an opportunity to provide friendship, counselling and mentoring support.
3 Building homes and infrastructure
This immediately provides shelter and facilities to those who have been affected by natural and man-made disasters.
With a focus on immediate and long-term employment, projects can include delivering trade skills to prepare for entry into manual labour jobs or to enter primary industry, and soft skills training for personal and professional development.
Providing full and partial scholarships for tertiary education including certification, diplomas and degree programmes.
Providing entry level opportunities into your company, which might include mentoring, and career development opportunities.
On International Human Solidarity Day today, take a moment to consider the effect an individual can make to eradicate poverty, and the opportunity for like-minded individuals to come together to create a long lasting impact for their community.
Share your initiatives and connect with like-minded groups and companies – chances are there are people around the world with a common project and purpose to eradicate poverty.
Shahran is regional strategic manager at Leaderonomics who believes that CSR initiatives should be practised by all organisations. To engage with him, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more articles by Shahran, visit www.leaderonomics.com