When considering how to make change around the world, the issues that lay ahead can feel overwhelming. We face mammoth crises on multiple fronts, from climate change and poverty to inequality and global pandemics. But we must imagine a better future if we are to create one.
A better future is possible, and many smart solutions exist right now that we can leverage to tackle large-scale problems.
Combating Global Poverty and Hunger
Hundreds of millions of people around the world are living in extreme poverty, meaning that they subsist on less than $1.90 a day and nearly 9% of the world goes to bed hungry. Although the statistics feel staggering, there is hope. Here are a few ways organizations and individuals are addressing global poverty and hunger.
Increase the Prevalence of Climate-Smart Agricultural Techniques
Climate change is affecting our food systems, and humans are at fault. However, climate-smart agricultural techniques do exist. We should be investing more in practices like crop diversification and soil carbon sequestration, which can increase food security while decreasing ecological damage. Biofortification of crops with essential nutrients is another way to improve health around the world, because it can increase nutrition levels without having to increase yields.
Reduce Levels of Food Waste
Approximately one-third of food produced is wasted, which is a devastating figure considering the millions of hungry people around the globe. We can individually make an effort to waste less food, while also calling on food companies and government agencies to implement policies to reduce food waste. We can also support organizations that are working to divert food from the landfill, whether through composting, recycling, or redistribution.
Help Families Break the Cycle of Poverty Through Family Planning
When families have large numbers of children without the resources to support them, they can become trapped in cycles of poverty. They may not be able to provide enough food or educational opportunities for all of their children, which can then jeopardize those children’s future job prospects and earning potential.
When children have access to education and the autonomy to focus on their careers, they are more likely to have smaller families. Women who are empowered to use family planning methods can choose the number and timing of their children, helping them to break the cycle of poverty and hunger.
Fighting Gender Inequality
The world has come a long way in terms of gender equity, but plenty of room for improvement in our lifetime still exists.
Increase Access to Social Services
When mothers are forced to sacrifice their careers and education to raise their children, everyone loses. And as we’ve seen during the coronavirus pandemic, the gains women have made can quickly be lost when social services collapse. By increasing access to social services, such as paid family leave, affordable childcare, housing, and healthcare, we provide women the means to achieve a healthier work-life balance and a more equitable shot at the same opportunities men are afforded.
Increase Female Education and Decrease Early Marriage
When girls are allowed equal educational opportunities and the freedom to decide when and who to marry, they are empowered to forge their own life paths. Women who complete secondary and tertiary education will be better positioned to secure well-paying jobs and attain high-level roles that can help further gender equity.
Combat Cultural Norms That Place Women Below Men
In many cultures, women are viewed inferior to men, and therefore less worthy of receiving a full education and less capable of making decisions about their own lives. By challenging these cultural norms and advocating for women’s rights, we might be able to change these misguided ideas and work toward a more equitable future.
Addressing Climate Change
Climate change is our collective existential crisis, and there are plenty of individuals and institutions ready to combat the issue on multiple fronts. Here are some ways we can work to decrease pollution, deforestation, emissions, and species extinction.
Transition Away from Fossil Fuels
Greenhouse gas emissions are the number one cause of a warming planet, and we need to transition to green energy while cutting back on fossil fuels. A shift to renewables is underway, like the news of The Empire State building running completely on wind energy, but additional sustainable solutions lie ahead.
Protect Vulnerable Species and Areas
Our planet is sensitive, but it is also capable of bouncing back if given the chance. We can help offset the effects of emissions while avoiding species extinction by preserving natural areas and allowing damaged areas to undergo rewilding.
Increase Access and Agency to Use Family Planning
The more people that exist on the planet, the more strain there will be on the world’s resources. By increasing access and agency to use family planning methods, people around the world can determine the number and timing of their children, which will in turn help to temper unsustainable population growth.
Mitigating Risk of Global Pandemics
The current coronavirus pandemic has killed millions and turned the world upside-down. Many scientists are saying we have entered a period of “increased outbreak activity,” and unless we start to adjust our behavior, pandemics could become much more frequent. Here are some ways to mitigate the risk of future pandemics:
Encourage and Increase Access to Proper Hygiene and Sanitation
Proper sanitation could have mitigated many pandemics of the past. Working to increase access to potable water and effective waste disposal can help decrease risk of outbreaks while also improving general quality of life.
One of the root causes of zoonotic diseases is habitat destruction, because it increases human interaction with wild animals. By working to reduce the rates of deforestation and preserving natural habitats, we can mitigate the risk of outbreaks.
As we’ve seen during the current pandemic, misinformation has the power to make a bad situation much worse. We can all work to combat misinformation by seeking out scientifically backed information and spreading it to as many people as possible.
Discover the Connection Between Climate Change, Social Justice, and Population Growth
One positive aspect of these issues is that addressing one of them can help mitigate all of them. By tackling the corecauses of climate change, poverty, hunger, and gender inequality, we can work toward a more sustainable future with equal rights for all—creating change around the world.
Watch our webinar on Confronting Crisis 2050 to better understand the issues and how you can help.