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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.”

An Aging UN in 2015. But How About a New UN in 2020?

The new report from the Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance, co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, suggests that the 75th anniversary year in 2020 might be the moment to reinvent the United Nations.

What kind of United Nations would we invent if we were designing it from scratch today? The UN Charter was signed by President Harry S. Truman and other world leaders in San Francisco on June 26th, 1945, and came into force three months later on October 24th. A long seven decades later, our world seems smaller, our fates more intertwined, and our challenges drastically different from those confronting the generation that emerged from the rubble of the Second World War. Is it time to begin devising architectures of global governance not "to avoid the mistakes of the 1930s," but instead intended for our own unfolding 21st Century?

Questions from Nepal: Debating the Merits of Voluntourism

On April 25th, a devastating earthquake hit Kathmandu, Nepal, killing over 4,000 people. As many around the world respond to the immediate aftermath, others look toward the future: how will Nepal rebuild? Financial aid is obviously needed; India is leading a massive aid effort along with other countries, while the US has already pledged $10 million. But the country will also need physical support. Who should provide it?

In the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, the country was flooded with untrained volunteers working with various NGOs. But while their hearts were in the right place, many of these good Samaritans did more harm than good. As Claire Bennett notes:

Ragtag brigades of well-intentioned do-gooders flooded the country…all clambering over one another looking for a way to make their mark and do good, but lacking either the skills or coordination to have an impact…. There were even reports of teams of doctors who arrived to help but were unable to feed themselves. This wave of unsolicited and poorly planned shipments of untrained people and donated goods was dubbed by some humanitarians “the second disaster." 

The Iran Negotiations, the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, the TPP, and your Congress

The drama over a nuclear control deal with Iran displays the United States as a global visionary. We seek to bring a proud, powerful, and estranged nation back into the wider global community. At the same time, we would reduce the risks of nuclear war by imposing tight controls on bomb-making technologies.

Some allies are horrified. Many conservative legislators are rebellious. Some intelligent commentators seem so mired in regional rivalry issues that they miss the broader (and even the regional) benefits of opening up the region to more peaceful trade and political interaction.

The initial American opposition to the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and our exclusion of China from our proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would put us in the position of acting as a conservative empire protector. That role would have us so concerned with maintaining Western internationalist-oriented global political and economic structures that we risk failing to accommodate the rise of governments having over two billion citizens (including China and India, as well as other BRIC countries). 

Fortunately, President Obama has reportedly backed off opposition to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The architecture of TPP remains the same.

The Human Side of Agro-Forestry

This blog was authored by Edward Rawson, Executive Director of Haiti Friends (not to be confused with Ed Rawson, founding member of CGS).

By the turn of the 21st century, 98% of Haiti had been deforested due to logging for timber, slash-and-burn agriculture, and the great demand for cooking fuel. Most of the land’s rich topsoil has washed into the sea, where it chokes the reefs and marine life.

Haiti’s mountains have eroded to bedrock and its aquifers are drying up. The habitat loss for wildlife is staggering, with many native plants and animals on international registries of endangered species. The deforestation and the resulting desertification is Haiti’s single largest ecological problem, which has had a negative ripple effect on the overall ecology of Haiti and its surrounding waters.

In response, the Haiti Timber Re-Introduction Program (HTRIP) began in 2008 as a grassroots movement that applies a scientific and education-based approach to support communities in the mountain regions. HTRIP seeks to transform the mountains with three approaches:

New Year, Same Problems, Global Solutions?

2014 has been quite a year: from climate change to the World Cup to the recent revelations about the US’s torture strategies, it is clear that we still have a ways to go. And while it is easy to remain cynical as we enter a new year, there is still room for hope. The same problems may not, in fact, have the same solutions (or lack thereof) in 2015.

Take climate change. We have already seen advances in technology that are leading to possible solutions all over the world. These local programs – such as recycling programs, solar-powered boats, and a revolutionary biofuel clean up project using algae – all have the potential one day to be global solutions.

In fact, many of my posts have implicitly highlighted this: local solutions are often the stepping-stone to global policies and practices. Whether it is at the country level, the company level, or at the much more local level, small changes can culminate in widespread results.

A Time for Reflection

The olde English proverb goes something like, “All good things must come to an end.” Such is the state of my rapidly expiring tenure at CGS as a government relations research associate. It’s been a heck of a couple months, and I’ll take the experiences I had here with me forever in my professional career. Here are some of my honest reflections.

When I first showed up, I really hadn’t a clue about the inner workings of a non-profit and the space they operate in -- the abyss between the governmental and civil society spheres. To drive home the point of my alienation, it took a few weeks to get used to the layout of the office (it’s a pretty big house). But I like to think I showed up having zero expectations and an open mind, which I always try to keep with me. In this regard I always wanted to be a soft-spoken and humble sponge that showed up at the right times and took in all the right information, learning as much as possible. Just like any new work place, there was a learning curve.

Something I always try to do is observe the standard operating procedures of a workplace, both formal and informal. It took some explaining (my attention span often gets the better of me at times), but now I can confidently say that I understand the ways in which CGS operates, and, most importantly, how it communicates its messages to the masses.

I’ve had previous work with government at the state level in the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so working through government institutions was not something foreign to me. Approaching government from the non-profit angle, however, was refreshing. It was fantastic to work with a political action committee that had a relatable and sincere platform: to support candidates who champion a responsible role for the US in the international realm to solve global problems effectively.

CGS Goes to Washington!

After months of hard work, it was finally time to pull out all the stops and make a highly anticipated trip to Capitol Hill to lobby congressional staffers! Dressed to the nines, as any three young professionals in DC should be, two colleagues and I left our cozy Eastern Market office for the mountainous doom and gloom of Capitol South for the day. Our objective: to successfully lobby three offices into co-sponsoring or supporting HR 3344, which deals with issues of human trafficking and foreign labor processes.

Our journey started in the annals of the Rayburn office building, and luckily for us, it was downhill from the metro station. We made our way up to the office of Rep. John Conyers Jr., where we had the only normal meeting of the day in a room filled with Smithsonian items. Did you know that members of Congress could rent items out of the Smithsonian back in the day? We didn’t either. But apparently this only worked for Rep. Conyers because of his illustrious tenure on the Hill. Aside from the wondrous nature of the office, the meeting was a home-run in every sense of the word, and we can look forward to a bright new relationship.