Global Issues Network
GIN CONFERENCE, LUXEMBOURG INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, MARCH 2017
Facilitating Sustainable Change through Education and Integration
Inspiring Action in a Time of Need
By: Nicola Spafford Furey, Vice President, Earth Focus Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland
Back to Luxembourg 22 March 2017, from Geneva, Switzerland you have the impression that Luxembourg is not far, well connection-wise, whether by plane or train there are no ideal links, most involving several changes. We ended up driving which though faster, had its own share of issues.
I, personally, have attended quite a few of the 12 GIN conferences, in fact helped organise two in Geneva in 2009 and 12010, each time it is a new and invigorating experience. Valerie Isbeque does a fabulous job that leaves, each year, around three to four hundred high school students ,of all different nationalities, with positive memories and values that will last them for life. With the privilege of attending an international school in their own country or a foreign country these young people already have an experience of international living through their parents and teachers. The annual visit to Global Issues Network (GIN) conference, if you have belonged to the GIN group in your school, worked together to develop projects, raised money for a cause or been to assist others you will understand GIN. Valerie spends the year finding key-note speakers to stimulate the students, people who have believed in their cause and worked hard to achieve it will come to share and speak, tell their story which can be very moving and sometimes very shocking, answer questions and bring a breath of fresh, committed and stimulating fresh air. Their examples are to be followed and how better than to meet, speak and follow these incredibly brave people?
This year we went from Wiser Girls School in Kenya with Andrew Cunningham to juggling and tight-rope walking in Afghanistan, escaping from genocide in Rwanda, surviving the Tsunami in Sri Lanka causing tragedy and positive action,
helping girls and women in Burundi and more. The students were inspired and announced their plans for action in the coming year. Each GIN group also held a workshop on the subject that they wished to share. These young people will be active world citizens.
We all look forward to the next GIN conference.
Perspectives of GIN Luxembourg, March 23 – 25, 2017
By: Martin Andrysek, Earth Focus Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland
The quality of key-note presentations at this year’s GIN conference was unprecedented including many excellent initiatives shared by students.
The urgent need for action was a prevailing theme, specifically action that’s sustainable, effective and dignified. Taking the spotlight were a group successful educational projects functioning in some of the world’s gravest crisis spots.
Whether its providing secondary education to marginalised girls in Kenya, entertaining circus performances and teaching basic skills to youth in Afghanistan, providing opportunities to orphan’s or refugees in Africa, Asia or the Middle-East, it is important to appreciate that many positive efforts came out of great personal hardship. A degree of humility when dealing with these themes is required.
Action starts with those around us, and no effort to help should be under-estimated. However, to truly be effective seeing the wider picture is essential. The amount and complexity of issues in our world can be overwhelming. One cannot be seriously engaged in all. A simple indicator is seeing whether what is proposed addresses root causes rather than just treating the symptoms. The SDG’s is one such framework, and needs continued support.
Specifically bring attention to the fact that developing countries face $2.5 trillion investment gap in key sustainable development sectors (UNCTAD). Finding support is vital to avoid the SDGs being a repeat of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals, 2000 – 2015) – a noble effort but ultimately failing to reach its targets.
One possible solution is demilitarize.org, a campaign to reduce military spending and redirecting freed up resources to solving many of the world’s most pressing issues (poverty, conflict, disease etc.) Efforts to improve international environmental standards and hold people to account is also crucial, see ecocidelaw.com and stopecocide.earth.
In summary, remembering the larger picture and helping spread awareness, whilst remaining focused on specific initiatives at home or abroad helps sustain much needed positive energy. The solutions lie all around us and it’s with their application that the dream of a peaceful and prosperous world becomes attainable.