A global citizen is someone who self-identifies first and foremost not as a member of a state, a tribe or a nation, but as a member of the human race, and someone who is prepared to act on that belief, to tackle our world's greatest challenges. Our work is focused on finding, supporting and activating global citizens. They exist in every country and among every demographic.
The world's future depends on global citizens. I'm convinced that if we had more global citizens active in our world, then every single one of the major challenges we face --from poverty, climate change, gender inequality -- these issues become solvable. They are ultimately global issues, and they can ultimately only be solved by global citizens demanding global solutions from their leaders.
Now, some people's immediate reaction to this idea is that it's either a bit utopian or even threatening.
And if we're to try to help kids like poverty, it wouldn't work just to try to send them a few dollars or to try to clean up the garbage dump on which they lived, because the core of the problem lay elsewhere. And as I worked on community development projects ,, I came to see that community development should be driven by communities themselves, and that although charity is necessary, it's not sufficient. We need to confront these challenges on a global scale and in a systemic way. And the best thing I could do is try to mobilize a large group of citizens back home to insist that our leaders engage in that systemic change.
We learned that one-off spikes are not enough. We needed a sustainable movement, not one that is susceptible to the fluctuating moods of a politician or the hint of an economic downturn. And it needed to happen everywhere; otherwise, every individual government would have this built-in excuse mechanism that they couldn't possibly carry the burden of global action alone.
we asked ourselves,how do we gain enough pressure and build a broad enough army to win these fights for the long term? We could only think of one way. We needed to somehow turn that short-term excitement of people involved with the Make campaign into long-term passion. It had to be part of their identity. So in 2012, we cofounded an organization that had exactly that as its goal. And there was only one name for it:Global Citizen.
But this is not about any one organization. This is about citizens taking action. And research data tells usthat of the total population who even care about global issues, only 18 percent have done anything about it.It's not that people don't want to act. It's often that they don't know how to take action, or that they believe that their actions will have no effect. So we had to somehow recruit and activate millions of citizens in dozens of countries to put pressure on their leaders to behave altruistically.
And as we did so, we discovered something really thrilling, that when you make global citizenship your mission, you suddenly find yourself with some extraordinary allies. See, extreme poverty isn't the only issue that's fundamentally global. So, too, is climate change, human rights, gender equality, even conflict. We found ourselves shoulder to shoulder with people who are passionate about targeting all these interrelated issues.
But how did we actually go about recruiting and engaging those global citizens? Well, we used the universal language: Geijutze=Art.
But there was a twist: you couldn't buy a ticket. You had to earn it. You had to take action on behalf of a global cause, and only once you'd done that could you earn enough points to qualify. Activism is the currency. I had no interest in citizenship purely as some sort of feel-good thing. For me, citizenship means you have to act, and that's what we required.
See, we don't need to create global citizens from nothing. We're already everywhere. We just need to be organized and motivated to start acting.
Now, maybe that doesn't sound like a lot to you. How will that achieve anything? Well, it achieved a lot because she wasn't alone.
"All politics is local." That's what always got politicians elected: to seek, gain and hold onto power through the pursuit of local or at very best national interests.
This is, I believe, outdated, even dangerous thinking.
Parochialism offers this false dichotomy because it pits the poor in one country against the poor in another.It pretends we can isolate ourselves and our nations from one another. The whole world is our backyard,and we ignore it at our peril. See, look what happened when we ignored Rwanda, when we ignore Syria,when we ignore climate change. Political leaders ought to give a "funk" because the impact of climate change and extreme poverty comes right to our shore.
Now, global citizens -- they understand this. We live in a time that favors the global citizen, in an age where every single voice can be heard.
The most we could do in those days was fire off a letter and wait for the next election. There was no social media. Today, billions of citizens have more tools, more access to information, more capacity to influence than ever before. Both the problems and the tools to solve them are right before us. The world has changed, and those of us who look beyond our borders are on the right side of history.
So where are we?
But this is the opportunity that I see. The concept of global citizenship, self-evident in its logic but until now impractical in many ways, has coincided with this particular moment in which we are privileged to live. We, as global citizens, now have a unique opportunity to accelerate large-scale positive change around the world. So in the months and years ahead, global citizens will hold world leaders accountable to ensure that the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development are tracked and implemented. Global citizens will partner with the world's leading NGOs to end diseases like polio and malaria. Global citizens will sign up in every corner of this globe, increasing the frequency, quality and impact of their actions. These dreams are within reach. Imagine an army of millions growing into tens of millions, connected, informed, engaged and unwilling to take no for an answer.
I spent on slums inspired me. Thanks to so many people, I came to understand the importance of being part of a movement of people -- the kids willing to look up from their screens and out to the world, the global citizens. Global citizens who stand together, who ask the question "Why?," who reject the naysayers, and embrace the amazing possibilities of the world we share.
I'm a global citizen.