Disillusion and hope, the ingredients for this poem, were the result of a week long study session on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Strasbourg that I, an active member of the Moroccan network organisation Towards A New Start (TANS, the Netherlands), attended together with other European youth.
The MDGs summarise the development goals agreed upon at international conferences and world summits during the 1990s. These goals, that have to be achieved by 2015 are: Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health, combat of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other serious diseases, ensuring of environmental sustainability and development of a global partnership for development. Despite these well- defined goals (the eight goals consist of 18 targets and 40 indicators), the world has not moved much further since the 1990s. The reality is that without concerted and intensifi ed efforts, few of the MDGs will be met by 2015. Hence, the need for a study session that addressed both the MDGs and the youth.
During serious discussions and funny activities we, twenty-seven young people from 19 different countries, connected not only because we got to know each other but also because we shared the willingness to make the world a better place for all. However, we soon realized that even we, with our ideas and ideals are part of a system that cannot be changed easily. Consumerism, neoliberalism, globalism and lots of other -isms are what the world is made of these days. And as long as nobody has the mind to come up with a better system, one that’s based on equality, empathy, worldwide prosperity and lots of other -ys, we will be stuck with this murderous system.
We realized that Mother Theresa and Ché Guevara complexes don’t survive very long in the face of everyday reality. A reality where people change the channel or switch off the television because they don’t want the images of dying children spoiling their nice evening. Where people are annoyed when they come across beggars on their holiday shopping spree. These aspects and the Western thought that we are really entitled to everything we have (so why would we share?) makes the MDGs even harder to accomplish than they already are. Of course, all this is stated very black and white.
However, it is ineligible that a lot of people are not concerned with the issues that the world as a whole faces and that the MDGs address. So we asked ourselves what we could do within our own organisations to initiate a positive change? After a couple of discussions we came up with the idea to create a Cool MDG website including an inspiration bank where we could share all our concrete ideas on how to raise MDG awareness among the youth and on how we could mobilise them to spread the word and become active. It is at this moment uncertain when this website will be launched. However, we already started to promote the MDGs in our own networks, communities and countries. My organisation, for instance, is not only launching a magazine this March that includes a couple of articles that are devoted to the MDGs but is also organising a few activities that relate to the MDGs. Furthermore, a participant from Finland is going to give an MDG training to NGO members from different countries on how to make small children aware of the MDGs. And there is a lot more going on.
Still, raising awareness is not enough. We need to take action and infl uence governments and make them really pay the 0.7% of BNP a year that every developed country needs to contribute in order to reach the MDGs. This is the reason why we are starting a lobby, together with several youth councils.
Our willingness, backed by our positivism and hope, to make the MDGs work is great and we came up with lots of plans and ideas. The most important thing at the end of the day is that we truly believe that we can overcome the defects and consequential disillusions of today’s system in order to reach the MDGs tomorrow.