Re-thinking International Development Communications

Author: Dr Eilish Dillon, MU Dept. of International Development.

Over the past few weeks of COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve seen more international development NGO (IDNGO) fundraising ads on TV with sick or vulnerable children in them than I have in many years. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been watching more television or maybe IDNGO communication standards are dropping. In the face of lost income, funding constraints and the growing challenges presented by COVID-19 around the world, how can organisations resist the temptation to use stereotyped, emotive images and to present themselves as saviours?

Concerns about how development has been communicated – among aid and development organisations, in mainstream media, in development policy and on social media – have been around for a long time. Influenced by analysis of colonial representations and development discourses, these have included analysis of media representations and of ‘poverty pornography’ as well as critique of the use of labels in development policy. Many projects and campaigns have also been designed to challenge stereotyped communications and to present alternatives such as Africa for Norway, Everyday Projects and No White Saviours.

Efforts to Improve NGO Development Communications

These have coincided with efforts on the part of international development NGOs to encourage better practice in their communications. This has included the DóchasCode of Conduct on Images and Messages (hereafter ‘the Dóchas Code’), developed in Ireland in 2007 from an earlier EU-wide code. This code was designed to rid organisations’ communications of stereotypes and simplifications and to ensure more dignity and respect for those represented in global development contexts. Through the Dóchas Code, Dóchas, the Irish Association of non-governmental development organisations, has been to the forefront of advancing thinking and practice on ethical communications among IDNGO networks in Europe.

The Dóchas Code promotes communication based on three key values: respect for the dignity of the people concerned; belief in the equality of all people; and acceptance of the need to promote fairness, solidarity and justice. These are very powerful values to base communications on but many consider them to be aspirational and vague. As such, they may be interpreted in too many different ways to ensure meaningful and consistent compliance. Though more prescribed, the guiding principles of good practice set out in the Dóchas Code have also been regarded as presenting similar problems for adherence. Using just two principles as examples, it’s worth considering what might be involved, in practice, in striving to “truthfully represent any image or depicted situation both in its immediate and wider context so as to improve public understanding of the realities and complexities of development” or to “avoid images and messages that potentially stereotype, sensationalise, or discriminate against people, situations or places”.

The challenge has been in translating these values and principles into practice, especially in a way that is not just based on ‘tick box’, governance-led compliance but on deeper critical understanding of why ethical communication is so important in the first place. An effort to address these practicalities was developed through the publication of an Illustrative Guide in 2014. Research published in 2014 by Caroline Murphy found that Irish IDNGOs tended to frame development in terms of charity, help for ‘the poor’ and poverty, with an emphasis on images of ‘poster children’ and women, with transaction the dominant call to action. This, she highlighted, leads to a situation where an “‘us and them’ mentality is reinforced … creating the impression that the developing world lacks agency and is in a constant state of doom and gloom, despite major progress in development initiatives”. There has been little substantial research on development communications in Ireland since.

Bond, the UK network of international development organisations, has also very recently developed its own ‘ethical guidelines for the collection and use of content (images and stories)’. Entitled ‘Putting the people in the pictures first’, it locates itself in the context of the Dóchas Code and also sets out a range of principles and guidelines on aspects of communication such as informed consent, accuracy and context, and avoiding stereotypes. It’s a strong document in its focus on ethical practice, its acknowledgement of power relations involved in communicating development and in its emphasis on contributors as subjects, not objects, of communication. Standards around “human rights, safeguarding and accountability” are seen to apply to content gathering as much as portrayal and the commitment is made that “contributors’ wellbeing will take precedence over our communications requirements”.

Absent from both guideline documents, however, is a detailed analysis of why there is a need for a code of good practice in the first place. There is little scrutiny of current practice or of the effects of communications on racism, white supremacy or gender inequality, for example. While they offer insights for ethical practice, organisational culture, management and governance systems also play a significant role in whether or not the agreed values and principles of ethical communications are implemented.

Transforming Development Communications

Despite many efforts, there are still problems with development communications. IDNGOs still often portray themselves as saviours; people in the global South are still stereotyped as ‘victims’ or presented as ‘other’ or ‘different; and complex development contexts are regularly presented in simplistic terms.

It is clear that ethical practice in IDNGO communication requires more than just technical know-how or good governance mechanisms. My research in development education suggests that transformed attitudes and practices require deep understanding, active engagement and robust critical analysis.

Over the next year or so, I will be exploring many of these issues in New Foundations research funded by the Irish Research Council – ‘Communicating International Development for Public Engagement’. The research, which was designed in collaboration with Dóchas, will examine the images used and the messages being communicated by International development NGOs as well as the relevance of Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages. If you’d like to contribute to the research, please email me at: eilish.dillon@mu.ie

The Tricky Challenge of Translating Education and Activism into Social Change

Author: Stephen McCloskey, Director, Centre for Global Education, Belfast.

October ‘revolution’ in Lebanon

Last October, a wave of anti-austerity protests erupted across Lebanon following tax hikes imposed by an unpopular government on an angry population at the end of its tether.  The final straw was a proposed levy on Whatsapp, a popular and free form of social messaging. The protestors are demanding an end to the sectarian nature of Lebanese politics which ensures that the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker in parliament a Shia Muslim.  The confessional nature of Lebanese politics has ‘fostered clientelism, nepotism and corruption’ which has contributed to an enormous national debt and failing public services.  After 13 days of protests the government resigned but protestors’ demands for a non-sectarian, technocratic administration that breaks with the old sectarian carve up of ministerial posts have not been satisfied.  A new government of ‘specialists’ was installed in January 2020 but they’re backed by the same old political parties and the president, Michael Aoun, remains firmly entrenched.  The protestors remain on the streets and the stand-off with the political establishment continues. 

Protests as development education

The protests in Lebanon have been unprecedented in their cross-sectarian nature and have been sustained for four months despite meeting increasing levels of violence from security forces.  The protest movement has been leaderless which can be both a strength and weakness.  It means there is no new, alternative political movement to serve as a vanguard for political change but, on the other hand, it’s been more difficult for the state to behead and derail the movement for change. And so, the protestors remain in that tricky limbo stage of having identified the social and economic ills of the state, debated possible solutions and taken action, but being unable to translate their activism into meaningful political change.  In short, the Lebanese protestors have engaged with the main staging points of development education practice and may yet reach their ultimate goal.  Indeed, they might argue that they have already secured many victories short of their main objective.  Hundreds of thousands of people have been mobilised and politicised breaking a sectarian stranglehold on civil society.  They have engaged in critical thinking and reflective action, and the genie may be ‘out of the bottle’ with activists now having a thirst for justice that is unquenchable until their demands are met.

Climate action

A similar process has taken effect with the ‘Friday’s For Future’ climate strike movement inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.  The climate strikes have been, in effect, development education in action with their combination of analysis, debate and popular mobilisations.  The climate actions from 20-27 September 2019 saw a record 6 million people take to the streets in what was the biggest climate mobilisation in history with more than 6,000 actions recorded in 185 countries.  This is the kind of public resonance and action that the international NGO sector can only dream about and can be largely attributed to the clarity, directness and truth of Thunberg’s messaging on climate.  Her speech to the United Nations Climate Action Summit last September, for example, was more like a rebuke to world leaders.  She said:

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”.

This very direct reproach of neoliberalism and the dangerously deregulated economic model that drives ‘development’ today is rarely taken up by INGOs in their public advocacy work and policy engagement with governments.  That is a particularly damming indictment of the development education sector which is rooted in the Freirean methodology of critical thinking that probes the underbelly of global problems and formulates action-based responses.  The international development and development education sectors appear to be complacently and uncritically pinning all their policy aspirations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The goals were adopted in 2015 by the United Nations as an ambitious programme ‘to promote shared prosperity and well-being for all over the next 15 years’. 

Development – an obituary

In an essay for New Internationalist titled ‘The Age of Development: an Obituary’, Wolfgang Sachs argues that the era of development is over.  Development, he argues, is ‘more often about survival now, not progress’.  He suggests that the SDGs should ’really be called SSGs – Sustainable Survival Goals’.  The SDGs, it seems, haven’t grasped the reality that sustainability now means de-growth and that arresting climate change within the same tried and failed economic system that created it is not an option.  

When you next scan the newsletters of international development networks in Ireland, check out the number of jobs, resources, seminars, ‘challenges’ and conferences you find on the SDGs?  Then, check for events or discussions on neoliberalism; the main source of the problems the SDGs are supposedly trying to address?  You’ll be lucky to find one.  It seems that the international development sector has still to get to base camp on the biggest question of our age while the climate strikers have already recognised that climate change means ‘system change’. 

And, yet, despite their enormous success as a popular movement for action on the climate emergency, the climate strikers, like the Lebanese protesters, are stuck in that limbo of having achieved heightened awareness of the issues but remaining short of their goal for a robust, international accord for reducing carbon emissions.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) has recommended limiting global warming to 1.5°C. above pre-industrial levels but the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change which bound signatories to achieving this goal has been undermined by several countries now being led by ‘nation first’ populists who refuse to take the climate issue seriously.

Lessons for activists

So, what are the lessons to be drawn from the climate and Lebanese activist movements?  Well, we shouldn’t under-value the significant educational achievements and outcomes from participation in protest movements.  For example, the climate strike movement has almost certainly contributed to unexpected success for Green parties in the European Union parliamentary elections in May 2019, suggesting that heightened awareness of climate change was influencing political behaviour.  We should also learn from Greta Thunberg’s enormously effective communication approach that speaking truth to power resonates with people and inspires them to action.  Yet another lesson is that almost everything worth struggling for demands an attritional campaign that can be exhausting, resource intensive and, at times, discouraging.  In Lebanon, the political establishment has been attempting to elongate the process of political reform to burnout protestors and diminish their zeal for change.  So, it’s worth recalling in the lowest moments of any campaign for change the words of trade unionist Bob Crow: ‘If you fight you won’t always win. But if you don’t fight you will always lose’.

Stephen McCloskey is Director of the Centre for Global Education, a development non-governmental organisation based in Belfast, and Editor of the journal Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review.  He was in Lebanon last October to observe the anti-austerity protests called the ‘October revolution’.

Global hypocrisies and glass ceilings: Aid, migration and remittances

Author: Dr Niamh Gaynor, Associate Professor, Dublin City University

For decades Ireland has rightly prided itself on its generosity and support to people living in poor and precarious circumstances in the global South.  Whether it comes in the form of charitable donations, or in the form of support for Irish Aid’s programmes overseas, Ireland has consistently ranked among the world’s top donors.  However, there is a fundamental hypocrisy at the heart of this global system.  While generous and willing to assist people from the global South once they stay at home, Ireland, like many other Northern countries, proves far less magnanimous in supporting and assisting people from the global South once they arrive here, seeking to work and assist their families and countries directly themselves.  A glass ceiling exists and, as political sensitivities toward immigration in the global North heighten, this ceiling is turning to concrete.  As aid flows stagnate while remittances rise, it’s time to rethink our global approach to development finance, policy and practice. 

Much energy and resources have been expended within the development sector in lobbying and advocating for the 0.7 percent overseas development aid (ODA) target as agreed within the United Nations in 1970.  Yet, as Table 1 below indicates, global aid flows continue to stagnate while remittances – money sent home by migrants working abroad – are steadily increasing.  By 2024, the World Bank estimates that remittances will be larger than ODA and foreign direct investment (FDI) combined, constituting the largest source of development finance for Southern countries, surpassing 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for some. 

While certainly not a panacea for poverty reduction, migrant remittances play an important role in development in many Southern countries.  In some countries they amount to over 25 percent of the country’s annual GDP (for example, Haiti, Nepal, Tonga and Tajikistan).  As well as assisting families and communities to access necessities such as food, clothing and housing, these direct flows can also help in the development of livelihoods and businesses. And in particularly acute situations, such as in times of recession or devastation due to climate-related disasters, remittances rise, as migrants send more money home to their families and friends to assist in the process of recovery and reconstruction.  For example, during the floods that hit the southern Indian coastal state of Kerala in August 2018, remittances to India grew by more than 14 per cent.  Remittances are also less volatile in comparison to other financial flows.  As Table 1 above also illustrates, during the global financial crisis when there was a significant reduction in FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) and ODA (Official Development Assistance), remittance receipts barely faltered, going on to continue their steady upward pace thereafter. 

Yet, with a hardening in stance in Europe and North America towards migrants, the full potential of such remittances for development is not being realised.  Indeed, a recent World Bank report reveals that more people emigrate from Southern countries to other Southern countries than to countries in the global North.  This is particularly the case for countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where the number of people living in poverty (defined as less than $1.90 per day at 2011 levels) has grown – from 278 million in 1990 to 413 million in 2015.  Seventy percent of SSA migrants go to other SSA countries.  As employment opportunities in these countries are limited, remittances to SSA countries are much lower than the global average.  At the high end, remittances to some countries amount to between 7 and 15 percent of GDP (for example The Gambia, Liberia, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria).  However, many of SSA’s poorest countries receive less than 1 per cent of GDP. 

Moreover, UNHCR data shows that, despite European proclamations of a so-called migration ‘crisis’, countries in the global South have historically hosted, and continue to host by far the largest share of refugees.  This was around 85 percent of the global total in 2017.  Meanwhile, the approval rate for asylum applications in the European Union (EU) has been falling – from 46 percent in 2017 to 37 percent in 2018.  With a total stock of over 870,000 pending asylum applications at the end of 2018 and also considering detected undocumented economic migrants, the World Bank estimates that the number of migrants refused entry into EU countries in 2018 at over 6 million.  The growing anti-immigration sentiment in many European countries is clearly having an influence.  Although in December 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly voted to formally adopt a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration as a step toward managing migration in a more humane and orderly manner, the withdrawal of several countries (mostly from within the EU) from this is indicative of heightened political sensitivities toward immigration. 

Ireland is no exception to this wider trend.  Despite its positive reputation for its celebrated aid programme, Ireland’s welcome for migrants and asylum seekers leaves a lot to be desired.  While over 15 percent of the workforce in Ireland is comprised of migrants, these are concentrated in low-paid sectors such as food, retail, hotel and catering, and personal household services.  As well as struggling on low wages, migrant workers experience a wide range of other challenges.  An ESRI survey of over 1,000 migrants in 2006 found that 32 percent of work permit holders have experienced racist harassment at work, while 21 percent of those entitled to work reported discrimination in accessing employment.  This was most common among Black Africans.  18 percent of those who had contact with immigration services reported that they were badly treated.  Another study found that, in 2008, migrant workers were three times more likely to experience discrimination while looking for work, while Black Africans were seven times more likely.  A more recent study on discrimination in the labour market from 2004-2010 reported ‘very high rates of discrimination’ experienced by Black African and non-White EU migrants in the workplace. 

Ireland’s treatment of migrants seeking asylum has long been a source of justifiable criticism.  An analysis of UNHCR data shows that Ireland ranks poorly among European nations for its treatment of asylum-seekers over the last seven years in several respects.  Ireland has recognised fewer asylum claims than many smaller or similar sized countries since 2012 and ranks 55th out of 183 countries overall, recognising asylum claims in 677 cases since 2012.   Crucially, just 3 percent of asylum applications have been recognised over this period; 21 percent have been rejected; and a staggering 76 percent of applicants have either been left waiting under the country’s much criticised system of Direct Provision, or their cases have been closed, without either recognition or rejection. 

There will always be a place for aid in global efforts to secure greater equality and justice.  Yet, aid alone is not sufficient. And as aid flows stagnate, we need to challenge and question the inconsistencies and hypocrisy underpinning our global approach to development finance, policy and practice.  The agency and capacity of Southern people to actively engage in their own, and in their country’s development needs to be acknowledged and supported.  This means overtly challenging the incipient racism and ‘me-first-ism’ which permeates public discourse and attitudes towards migrants.  Opening our borders and labour markets to incoming migrants provides one mechanism which can go some way towards redressing the egregious global imbalance of power and resources which the aid system alone can never change. 

A longer version of this blog is published in Issue 29 of ‘Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review’. 

Details of Niamh’s research and publications are available here.

Why Words Matter – Let’s Think About the Words We Use in Development Speak

Author: Dr Eilish Dillon, MU Dept. of International Development.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about why words matter. It matters what we say and what we leave out, why we use one term or phrase and not another, and the labels and names we attach to things and people. Though most agree with this, some dismiss an emphasis on words as ‘political correctness gone mad’. Others feel that actions are far more important than words, ‘walking the talk’ type of thing. I suggest that we need to see words and actions as intertwined.

Words matter because what we say affects what people do, how we think and how we relate, often with unintended consequences. Of course, concerns about words and their meaning is not new to international development, as anyone interested in post-development or post-colonial discourse analysis will be aware. In 2006, the IDS published its 28th Policy Briefing on “The Power of Labelling in Development Practice“, recommending greater self-awareness from policy actors about the labels and words they use in development policy and more sensitive and nuanced responses to local political contexts. The recently published 3rd edition of ‘The Development Dictionary’ edited by Wolfgang Sachs 2019, also directs our attention to the power of words in international development.

My concern about the words we use relates to many spheres of life and I’ll explore just a few examples here related to gender, the environment, empowerment and the SDGs.

Let me start with the use of the terms ‘lady’ or ‘girl’ in place of ‘woman’. This has become particularly prevalent in media reporting and in common language, with the former’s limited feminine and elitist assumptions about what constitutes womanhood and the latter’s infantilisation of women. In an effort to show respect, these terms single out certain characteristics for praise in women, while denying others. There’s no sense in the terms ‘lady’ or ‘girl’ that society values women who stand up for themselves (or others), or who are leaders or loud. In the face of misogyny, violence and abuse, it seems that people are telling us that women should be ‘respectable’, should behave in acceptable and unchallenging ways and conform to a restrictive understanding of gender norms. Though most people who use these terms don’t intend these effects, nonetheless they contribute to the range of processes which enhance gender inequality.

The power of words to both reflect and shape the way we see the world is clear when we think about the different effects of using terms such as ‘global warming’, ‘climate change’ or ‘climate crisis’. In this case, we can see that words which emerge with radical or action-oriented potential often end up being ‘watered down’ and in need of replacement or qualification. The term ‘global warming’, for example, was replaced by ‘climate change’ to capture the complexity of threats to the environment, but ‘change’ can appear neutral. Though ostensibly highlighting the urgency of the challenges facing us, ‘crisis’ has become associated with anxiety and scare mongering and it is increasingly thought to lead to more inertia than action. This has led to an emphasis in development policy and practice on action rather than problems. We now have a more common use of the term ‘climate justice’, which assumes cause, power and the need for systemic change, and more focus on a ‘just transition’ and ‘climate strikes’.

It’s also important to acknowledge that it’s not necessarily the word or phrase that’s a problem but how it is used and who is using it. As such, the same words or phrases can be infused with many meanings, some of them more or less radical or transformative than others. Take, for example, the term ‘empowerment’. For many of us involved in international development work, ‘empowerment’ can fill us with hope or send shivers down our spines. As one of the ‘Buzzwords and Fuzzwords’, highlighted by Andrea Cornwall, empowerment can mean everything and nothing, so it matters how it is used. Talk of ’empowering others’, for example, carries the connotations of superiority, ethnocentrism and colonialism that many recoil against. At the same time, when claimed by oppressed or marginalised people, ‘being empowered’ can imply more active engagement in political and economic realities, greater access to human rights or the exercise of power. This is yet another reason why it is so important that we understand how terms are being used and their effects in different contexts.

And so for my last example. This is a phrase which many development policy makers, educators and activists like and promote, but it’s also one that I’ve become increasingly unsettled by. It is the use of the phrase ‘reaching the furthest behind first’. A catchphrase of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), it has been adopted in ‘A Better World’, the Irish government’s policy on International Development (2018). According to the UN, ‘reaching the furthest behind first’ was designed to address the critical needs of indigenous peoples, the elderly, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups in an effort to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was hoped that such a focus would ensure that governments would ‘resist the temptation of helping those that are easiest to reach first in order to boost their statistics’ (UN DESA). It was supposed to signal inclusivity, a sense of ownership and togetherness in the pursuit of the SDGs.

My concern is that ‘reaching the furthest behind first’ carries too many suggestions of a charitable approach to development – those ahead bring along those behind, there’s somewhere to go that’s ahead, not behind. Such a patronising and paternalistic framing is based on taken-for-granted modernising assumptions which go unquestioned. In echoing the value placed on assistance or charity, I am reminded of the maxim ‘give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach them to fish and you feed them for life’. Like ‘teaching them to fish’, ‘reaching the furthest behind first’ has good intentions but it is still rooted in valuing assistance and framed from the perspective of the ‘giver’ or the ‘doer’. What about the more radical version of this fish maxim?

“If you teach me to fish then you have fed me until the river is contaminated or the shoreline seized for development. But if you teach me to organise, then whatever the challenge, I can join together with my peers and we will fashion our own solution”.

Similarly, ‘reaching the furthest behind first’ is missing the political. Though laudably focused on the most marginalised, in emphasising ‘behind’ as a precursor position to ‘catching up’, it serves to negate the power relations involved. These result in people not having access to rights and being marginalised, not by accident or ‘their own fault’, or because they were somehow ‘left behind’ or ‘forgotten’, but because of people and decisions and systems which oppress and which need to be challenged.

Words and phrases matter in what they emphasise and what they leave out. I think it’s time to be more political with our words but also to be more careful. Questioning what terms we use and what their effects might be is an important first step.

Generation Global Citizen

Author: Niamh Rooney, MU Dept. of International Development.

The climate crisis has become the most urgent concern of our time, justifiably so, if a little late considering that the alarm was raised decades ago. Activists such as Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have recently been dominating the media with their pleas for support and action. While there has been a phenomenal positive public response to these activists, there has also been a negative and often vicious push-back from others. Such critics accuse climate campaigners in general of fear-mongering and of causing fear and anxiety to the younger generation with their predictions of impending doom.

“Bristol” by nicksarebi is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

While there are legitimate concerns for a younger generation filled with anxiety, unfortunately, global citizens are right to be fearful and anxious, these emotional responses are understandable in the face of climate breakdown. There is a real threat to the very existence of our wonderful world. We are accelerating towards a critical tipping point as a direct result of the actions of the current generation and those gone before us.

Science based research attributes the current increase in global warming above pre-industrial levels to human activities and predicts that a further rise in global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052. This increase will likely impact on human and natural systems with increased sea levels, increased incidence of drought and flooding and extreme weather patterns etc. which in turn will impact on health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth among others.

The impact of plastics in our oceans has been the focus of many campaigns with stark warnings of the impact on ocean life and related impacts on CO2 levels in the atmosphere as the oceans and its inhabitants act as a carbon sink. There are increasing fears for human health as a result of plastic contamination, both in seas and rivers, and our reliance on plastics in our everyday lives. Environmental and medical scientists are concerned about the increase in cancers and decrease in fertility levels which they claim can be linked to harmful chemicals in micro-plastics and which have been traced in the human body as result of exposure through the food chain.

How we deal with the fear and anxiety is key. Do we allow it to drive anger, depression and division? Or do we face our fears and anxiety by arming ourselves with knowledge, facts and options- from credible, critical sources – and use this knowledge to further raise awareness and to take action? The time for small simple actions has passed. While it is important to continue with these simple individual actions, such as reducing, reusing and recycling; stronger action is required. We, as a global community, need to take this knowledge and awareness and educate others, start conversations, raise our collective voice and become active citizens calling for sustained, meaningful change on the part of government and multi-national corporations.

We live in an age of rapid technological advancement, the solutions are out there, some already exist, others just waiting to be discovered. The political will to harness existing and to discover new solutions is lacking. Those who profit from harmful resources and practices hold the power and it is only through political will and consumer action that this will change. Consumer action relies on political will to ensure affordable and universal access to environmentally friendly alternatives.

Now is the time, more than ever, that we need a critical mass of informed, active global citizens advocating for – or rather – demanding and driving positive sustainable change.  The Earth is a complex system and that system knows no borders. The repercussions of inaction will affect everyone, indeed for many, those repercussions are already felt.  We, as a global community, can no longer afford to be complacent. We can no longer afford to trust that big business will play a fair, just and ethical game.  We can no longer afford to assume that our governments will act responsibly on our behalf.  Now is the time to become informed, to become impassioned, and to become responsible global citizens. The time to act is now.

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