2015 promises to be a transformative year on the international development front and is therefore an appropriate time to reflect on a noteworthy milestone. The United Nations enters its 70th year -- and like some 70-year-olds, the beleaguered UN has found new vigour and relevance in people's lives, with Canada playing a role in some noteworthy accomplishments.
On balance, however, this was not a good year for world peace. Russian aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, and the West's response, pushed the world closer to a new Cold War. Revelations about the CIA's use of torture were enough to shake anyone's faith in the goodness of humanity. Meanwhile, the Middle East spiralled downward with greater violence in Gaza, Syria and Iraq. At home we are still not on track to meet our emissions targets. And the strongest praise environmentalists could muster for the climate change deal reached in Lima, Peru, last week was to wince and say it is "better than nothing."
Diplomatically, we are losing much of the "bench strength" we once possessed, as senior and able diplomats transition out of public service due to the lack of government engagement in the more vital files. The Canadian government denies all this repeatedly, as governments are prone to do, but those many areas where this country once was a steady player are increasingly being recognizing for our absence.
Over the past three decades, relentless poaching of wildlife has already wiped out several species of rhinos, and elephants, even as the surviving species are being pushed to the brink of extinction. However wildlife crime has come into scrutiny only in the past decade, and despite the emergence of stringent international laws, criminals are getting away scot-free.
For us in the West, it's hard to imagine life without education. But what if you couldn't read the words on a basic contract, write your name on a job application, or count the money you earn at work? Imagine no one in your community knew how to prevent your crops from failing, basic accounting to run a family business, or how to treat a common illness.
In recent weeks, we have heard statements from leaders on the international stage that we are on the path to eradicating absolute poverty in the next two decades. I'd prefer we wait to 2030 to really celebrate how much we did to close the gap and assure that these numbers reflect all countries and the people in them -- and that no one gets left behind.
It's a new year. Time to dust off that old piece of paper with your goals from last year and take a moment to compare what you set out to accomplish with what you actually got done. Did you hit all of your goals? If so, then shame on you! Set them higher this year and really push yourself! It's not supposed to be easy.
The only way for us to end global hunger is for governments, non-governmental organizations, business and the community work together to implement solutions we know will work. I left Bangladesh knowing that I want to help bring about an end to global hunger. So my family and I are going to take a few simple steps.
For over 25 years I worked for Save the Children across Latin America. We worked in the poorest communities and I witnessed the pain of parents who would have done anything they could, if they could to help their hungry child, their sick child, their child who wanted to go to school but couldn't for lack of money.
Remember the 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) that the world's riches nations committed to international development? Whatever became of it? Let's have a 0.7 per cent for a new generation, only this time with the concentration on that one part of the world that has lagged behind -- Africa.