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Development in the Digital Age

The biggest impacts often come from the seemingly smallest technological advancements: food-ordering apps, instagram, Pokemon Go. They not only make something rapidly accessible, but they do so in a way that highlights its huge role in our lives (or makes it a huge role in our lives). The same can be seen all over the world, but with arguably higher stakes. You open up the paper pull up your news app and see stories of other apps that are helping prevent deforestation through geo-tag reporting, improving democracy by disseminating knowledge and creating transparency in elections, mapping violence, and bringing mobile bank to rural villages.

Clearly, technology can not only solve problems, but also it can empower people. One study found that by “bringing internet access to the 4.1 billion people in the world who do not have it would increase global economic output by $6.7 trillion…, raising 500 million people out of poverty.” Yet, even if the world can overcome the barrier of affordable internet access, how do we guarantee that the gains are felt equally, by everyone? Unsurprisingly, a “report said the benefits of rapid digital expansion had been skewed towards the better-off and the more highly skilled, who were better able to take advantage of the new technologies.”

Signs of Hope Inside CGS

Donna with her new grandchild

I have become the chair of Citizens for Global Solutions Action Network at a difficult time.  It was very difficult to lay off our dedicated staff at the beginning of May.  But it became clear to all the members of both Boards (Citizens for Global Solutions Education Fund and Citizens for Global Solutions Action Network) that we didn’t have a choice.  Financially we couldn’t afford their salaries.  Some of our employees had been with us a very long time.  The decision and the process were painful.  It has been like losing dear friends.

So now we enter a new phase in the life of Citizens for Global Solutions.  We are now a volunteer-led, volunteer-run organization.  We hope to hire staff and interns again in the future, but for the time being we are looking for a few good volunteers.

So why should you, our members, our colleagues, our friends, our donors, our volunteers stick with us?  I believe there are many signs of the times that point to hope for our organization and our world.  This blog will share hopeful signs within our organization:

A New Direction for Our Organization

CGS National Offices in Washington, DC

Dear Citizens for Global Solutions friends, members and supporters,

The boards of Citizens for Global Solutions are excited to announce a new direction for the organization -- one that reflects our current resource capacities and some difficult but realistic decisions by our volunteer leadership.

Opportunities lie ahead of us, and we feel these changes will allow us to take advantage of them.

Earlier this month, the boards agreed to transition to a volunteer-run association. Our current staff is moving on to new opportunities. Over the next year our boards and trustees will oversee renovation of our national offices into housing for young interns.

We are maintaining our issue-driven website and social media, our advocacy and educational efforts, and our commitment to donors and activists. 

We will leverage our new partnership with the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance in support of several urgently needed global reforms, and several chapters will participate again in the Global Week of Action this October. 

Nationally and locally, our activists will continue educating and advocating for solutions to climate change, mass atrocities, and nuclear proliferation. As always, these efforts come together to ensure our goal of a democratically governed world, which remains an inspiring vision for many.

Great American Write-In: The Convention on the Rights of the Child

As his last term comes to an end, supporters and critics alike have asked, what will President Barack Obama’s legacy be? While President Obama has given the United States a renewed respect in the international scene, by far the most lasting action Obama can take is to allow us to finally ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The CRC is by far the most widely accepted human rights instrument in history. But anti-treaty groups have succeeded in politicizing even this one—an international agreement that would protect children everywhere. By not ratifying it, the U.S. is embarrassingly removed from legitimate stances we take on the rights of children.

Earlier this month, the South Orange County Chapter of CGS joined an event to raise awareness of this treaty and collect signatures to petition President Obama to support this treaty and give the United States international credibility to defend children’s rights.

Karen Stone organized a table at the Great American Write-In, which allowed visitors to attend and write to their representatives about issues important to them. The chapter board funded their table, while the CGS chapter provided information about the CRC as well as some sample writings that could inspire others to write to the White House in support of the treaty. As Karen explains,

I always like to have a petition, because it's easy to ask people if they would like to sign our petition...and then very simply say what it is about. It gets people to stop, look and sign! Theyare more likely to pick up our literature and engage in conversation.

Welcoming Ari Back to CGS

Having returned to her native DC after almost two years working in Southeast Asia, Arielle (Ari) Weaver has joined Citizens for Global Solutions as the Outreach and Events Manager mid-January of this year. She may be our newest staff member, but this isn’t her first time working at CGS.

Arielle started her career at National Geographic, but wanting to focus more intently on advocacy and international affairs, she joined CGS in early 2012. As the Government Relations Research Associate, she helped with our Congressional Report Card and 2012 Annual Meeting, and quickly was promoted to the Edward Rawson Fellowship by the end of the year. From there, having a focus on our membership activities and online advocacy, Arielle was promoted again to Membership and Outreach Coordinator.

With adventure calling, Arielle moved to Thailand in the spring of 2014 to teach English. She also taught refugee children on the weekends and mentored college-aged women through a Thailand-based nonprofit.

The Debate on Banning Trump

Donald Trump

The United Kingdom has been one of America’s closest allies for over 200 years. Yet the British Parliament recently engaged in a debate on banning a possible U.S. presidential candidate.

On Monday, January 18th, in response to a grassroots petition signed by over 574,000 British citizens, members of Parliament discussed whether Donald Trump should be permitted entry into the United Kingdom due to his consistent use of hate speech and possible influence on preexisting radical groups in the country.

The debate even touched on whether Trump’s message could be considered terrorism itself. Tulip Siddiq of the Labour party stated,

His words are not comical, his words are not funny. His words are poisonous.

She along with other Muslim members of Parliament spoke on personal experiences of bigotry due to the rhetoric spurred by Trump’s speeches.

Those against the ban questioned whether it would cause more harm than good; banning Trump could possibly increase his popularity among his supporters both in the UK and the U.S. They also argued, somewhat ironically, that the debate itself is fueling Trump’s publicity. Other arguments included the difficulties that could arise if Trump is indeed elected President. Imposing a ban could make foreign policy conversations between each country very difficult.

Crossing Cultural and Linguistic Boundaries: International Volunteer Day

Peace Corps volunteers work in the Gambia to create sustainable gardens

Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectations of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose.     --UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

December 5 has been selected as the International Volunteer Day by a 1985 UN General Assembly resolution. This year, Volunteer Day comes as government representatives and NGO volunteers are meeting in Paris to develop a new international climate agreement at COP 21.  The NGO representatives are fewer in number than originally planned due to the recent Paris attacks and consequent tightened security. However, those that are present are doubly active as world media attention focuses on the conference and its outcome.

As with all major UN conferences, negotiations among governments have been going on for two years with a good deal of input from NGO representatives. At the Paris stage, there is a preliminary “Final Document and Action Plan” of some 30 pages with a good number of square brackets around words or sentences on which there is no agreement. Negotiations concern making the document shorter so that the main ideas will stand out better and to remove square brackets. If a suitable word is not found, often the whole sentence will be dropped.

On this National Day of Giving

This year, GivingTuesday is arriving  just in time.

We're seeing four million refugees fleeing Syria; 38 million people worldwide internally displaced from war, terror, and suppression in 2014 alone; barrel bombs dropped on civilians by their own government; and countless other atrocities.

Now, under great pressure from the spread of terrorism, extreme weather, unrestrained war and huge migration flows across the globe, leaders from around the world are catching up to our vision of a well-governed world.

Citizens for Global Solutions has been invited to join global policy leaders in promoting crucial United Nations reforms, reforms that can prevent the triumph of terrorism, the cataclysm of global warming, or even World War III.

On Tuesday, December 1, Citizens for Global Solutions is participating in GivingTuesday, a day where people all across our nation come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to support the worthy causes in which they believe. 

We invite and encourage you to join the movement and to support Citizens for Global Solutions’ efforts to create a movement for crucial global governance initiatives before the window of opportunity closes.

Citizens for Global Solutions Announces New Executive Director Earl James

The Boards of Citzens for Global Solutions, Inc. and the CGS Education Fund have announced the appointment of Earl James as Executive Director. He will take up the role effective immediately and will be responsible for implementing the organization's new five-year strategic plan. 

The Board is pleased to appoint Earl James as our Executive Director! As a long time board member, advocate, and staffer, Earl brings experience and passion to our organization. We look forward to working with him to build a strong constituency for world peace and effective global governance.

--Victor Lang, Chairman of the Board (CGS Education Fund)

Earl James has worked for social change in the nonprofit sector for over 40 years, including a previous stint as Development Director for CGS (1994-95), where he was instrumental in establishing and funding a staff position to build a US-based coalition for an International Criminal Court, and in increasing membership in CGS by 40%.

He has also served as an International Election Supervisor in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina, as Executive Director of CGS’s Pittsburgh Chapter, for the Rachel Carson Homestead Association (PA), and for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As Director of Preservation Services for the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, he launched Rivers of Steel, a National Industrial Heritage Area, and as Director of Programs and Development for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center he organized statewide coalitions working on environmental health issues, and on cleanup and prevention of mining pollution.

The Hunger Games: Food Waste in the Developing World

The UN recently announced its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals encompassing everything from education to peace and justice. Of them, Goal 2 is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” Though the goal itself and the subsequent sub goals highlight the need for sustainability, they seem to overlook a very important roadblock in the fight to end hunger: food waste.

As I’ve written before, about a third of all food grown around the world is never eaten. Though this is more often reported as occurring in the first world, many would be surprised to know how large the issue is in the developing world: “as much as half of the food grown or produced in the developing world simply never makes it to market.” Often this is because of a lack of technology, whether it’s a lack of refrigeration or of something “as simple as getting farmers in places like Kenya to use crates instead of burlap bags to transport their tomatoes to prevent them from bruising on the way to market.”