INDEPENDENT NEWS

World Vision Launches 10 Big Issues Facing Future

Published: Fri 15 Oct 1999 01:09 PM
World Vision International today launched a campaign to raise awareness of the Big 10 issues facing the world as it enters a new millennium.…
World Vision believes that the first generation of children born in the new millennium could inherit a world free of poverty and full of promise. The past successes of development suggest that the problems which now deny millions of children the chance to reach their full potential can be solved. Achieving a sustainable future for all the world’s children is a question of both recognising the urgent issues which must be addressed and finding the commitment to act.
World Vision believes that ten major problems lie at the heart of the neglected potential of many of today’s children. Most are issues that relate to development itself. Over three quarters of the millennium generation will be born outside the rich countries of the OECD. Transforming their world, where 3 billion people live on less than US$2 a day, will involve a renewed effort to overcome poverty. It was also entail honest recognition of the broken values which have cause global priorities to go so badly awry.
The costs of overcoming the problems which face the children of the millennium are not great by rich world standards, less than 1% of global GNP and a fraction of international spending on the military. Money is therefore not the obstacle to change, the greatest barrier to a better world is simply a lack of will. At the dawn of a new millennium many will remember that Jesus Christ spoke of a world of justice, harmony and peace. Yet despite this call many of the children of today would recognise the poverty, disease and injustice that characterised Roman Palestine.
If the international community takes firm and decisive action, the first generation born in the Third Millennium could realise God's promise of a more just world. The following is an urgent "To Do List" for the new millennium. If these 10 urgent issues are adequately addressed, the children of the new millennium could realise their full potential in a safe and sustainable world.
1. A liveable income. More than half of the world's nearly 6 billion people live on less than US$2 a day. Reaching a US$3 a day minimum with better income distribution would provide a liveable level while improving education, health care and economic growth. World Vision believes that appropriate economic policies and an extra $22 billion in aid annually could eliminate absolute poverty by the time the first generation of the new millennium become adults.
2. Food for everyone. The world is capable of feeding itself. Increased production of food crops, investment in rural infrastructure, better distribution systems, agricultural programmes and land reform are among the measures that can end hunger. The FAO estimates that as little as $8 billion a year, mostly for rural infrastructure and research, could greatly increase the global quantity of food.
3. Education for all. Education is essential if children are to realise their potential as healthy, informed and active citizens. Yet 125 million children do not attend primary school, two thirds of them girls, and 150 million children drop out of education before Grade Four. UNICEF believes that $6 billion annually could provide education for all, less than the U.S. spends on cosmetics.
4. Clean water. Contaminated water, the biggest cause of preventable disease and death in the developing world, claims the lives of 5 million children a year. Some 1.3 billion people lack safe water and 2.5 billion are without adequate sanitation. Much could be done to provide clean water infrastructure for $9billion according to UNDP.
5. Debt relief for poor nations. Servicing international debt exceeds spending on education in 30 African nations. Onerous debt service deprives poor nations of revenue for schools, hospitals, roads, and economic development. Rich nations need the political will to forgo payments on existing loans. Theoretical costs of $205 billion for debt write-offs really constitute a recognition that past debt agreements can never be paid.
6. Investing in peacebuilding. As the 20th century closes, some 15 million people are refugees, even more are displaced within their own countries. Families driven from their homes by conflict and violence. Permanent peace-building measures, based on development and mutual self-interest, could guarantee safe and secure homes.
7. Girls Growing as Equals. Establishing equal rights and opportunities for girls is one of the best guarantees for development. A community that ensures equality for women is wiser, richer, and more fulfilled. Political authorities across the world must find renewed commitment to making equality real.
8. A sustainable future. Poverty exacerbates environmental destruction by forcing the poor to clear forests, utilise marginal lands and accept man-made pollution. Good stewardship of the earth's resources guarantees a sustainable future for all. Rich nations must take seriously commitments already made on climate change, while helping poorer states to develop sustainably.
9. An end to child exploitation. Some 250 million children now work so their families can eat. Many are forced into prostitution, drug trafficking and debilitating jobs that adults refuse to do. Some 300,000 have been conscripted as soldiers. Investing in the future of children by prioritising an end to poverty will bring a liveable family income that releases children from exploitative labour.
10. Freedom to believe. The right of all women and men to believe and to participate in society -- politically, economically, socially, and spiritually -- is fundamental to their ability to construct a safe and sustainable future.
World Vision believes that estimating the real cost of change is not easy. The multiplying benefits of economic growth as people are freed from poverty reduces some costs, while unexpected crisis can greatly increase others. World Vision believes that the evidence of the past does suggest costs are not unrealistically high. A review of existing studies by expert groups suggest that much could be done with an initial investment of US$100 billion to solve one off problems (eg clean water and education for all).
An additional US$100 billion per year devoted to human development as the new millennium generation grows would substantially transform our world. This amount, 0.33% of global GNP, or US$110 each for the citizens of the richest nations, pales by comparison to expenditure on many less important costs - including arms. Is a better world for the children of the new millennium too expensive?
World's military spending: $ 780 billion
on illegal drugs: $ 400 billion
on advertising: $ 435 billion

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