( – promoted by buhdydharma )
A sad truth and a harsh reality in the richest nation in the world. And the global situation regarding food, hunger, and nutrition is much worse, as even the Bush administration has reluctantly admitted:
President George W. Bush on Monday ordered the release of $200 million in U.S. emergency food aid to help alleviate food shortages in developing countries in Africa and elsewhere, the White House said.
Bush took action a day after top finance and development officials from around the world called for urgent steps to stem rising food prices, warning that social unrest would spread unless the cost of basic staples was contained.
A drop in a very big bucket, but every drop helps and is needed.
Since bowing out of the presidential race, John Edwards has continued to speak out on a number of important issues affecting the US and the world. And one issue Edwards has always been impassioned about – is poverty and the importance of a progressive sustained comprehensive set of solutions to alleviate poverty at home and abroad.
Yesterday, Edwards continued this focus and spoke at the opening ceremony for the Millennium Campus Conference, a three-day event sponsored by MIT’s Global Poverty Initiative. Read on for more.
Here’s a bit about the conference and the events they are having. The conference is sponsored by MIT’s Global Poverty Initiative, which has a more complete listing of events for anoyone in the area (its free).
This year the conference has focused on a very specific challenge: creating sustainable water systems to raise living standards.
And the importance of water in finding a solution to poverty is very clear:
Equitable and sustainable management of water resources is a major issue in the modern world. Due to inadequate water systems in many developing parts of the world, the failure to deliver clean safe water to communities now constitutes a silently impending crisis. Currently, one sixth of the world lives without clean water, and over two fifths of the world do not have adequate sanitation in their community. At any moment in time, half of the developing world suffers from a water-related disease, and every twenty seconds a child dies of a water-borne disease. This crisis will only get worse as the human population is projected to grow another fifty percent in the next few decades. The United Nations has recognized the severity of the issue; in the Millennium Development Goals, the UN calls the international community to “reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
This year, we will focus on improving water systems, sanitation, and delivery to break the cycle of poverty and disease. Disease from poor water and sanitation is the second biggest killer of children after respiratory infections, yet efforts to improve water quality and infrastructure around the world have been largely met with indifference. This silent crisis holds great opportunity for innovation in technology, education, infrastructure, and other areas to make a global impact on eradicating global poverty.
While others spoke on the more technical and other aspects of ending poverty, in the opening ceremony Edwards issued a call to action:
“We face enormous challenges that literally go to the survival of the planet,” Edwards said, adding that the problems are “connected to each other, and connected to all the uncertainty, instability and danger in the world today.
“It is required, absolutely necessary, that we work in a cooperative, coordinated way,” the former North Carolina senator added. “That’s why we need visionary leadership.”
For the US Edwards offered some very specific ideas and urged people to get involved:
Specific things the nation should be doing to alleviate poverty, he said, include universal health care, an increase in the minimum wage, strengthening of the rights of unions, initiatives to help people build assets such as matching savings accounts, and better access to education. “Young people can play such a crucial role” in bringing about such changes, he said.
“We have to develop a political will to take action,” he said. Asked by a student what the most important thing is that young people can do to help achieve these goals, he emphasized “adocacy, making your voice heard. Organize rallies, be part of the movement, support candidates” who are working to improve conditions.
Edwards was also asked (of course) about his preference for the US presidential elections but ruled out an endorsement as well as any future VP position. It seems clear that regardless of who the nominee is he will work with them to make sure poverty is a high priority:
Edwards has urged all the remaining presidential candidates to create a new cabinet-level antipoverty position, he said, and both Clinton and Obama have agreed to the idea. Meanwhile, Edwards himself will continue to work with the new student group: Organizers announced that he has agreed to join the Global Poverty Initiative’s board of advisors.
Local news channel NECN also has some good video coverage of the event, with most of the text below the video. Along with poverty, there is also some interesting question and answer on where he stands regarding super delegates.
The statement from the video report below sums up the message Edwards was trying to get across, something that we have adjectly failed to do in these last 7 years.
“What America needs to be doing is to demonstrate that as a nation, we understand our link with the rest of humanity and our responsibility to humanity.”
We’ve got a long ways to go, don’t we?