We highlighted in a previous article (A historical perspective of the evolution of Entrepreneurship) that there were seven global issues that challenge mankind in our 21st century. Social Entrepreneurship is dedicated to find solutions to these problems, around a sustainable business model designed to generate revenue, but not to maximize profits. Let’s have an initial look at each of these issues, which will eventually all individually be covered by a specific article, as we will aim to dive deeper in the details of each challenge. Furthermore, for those of you who have heard about the United Nations eight millennium development goals, they all fall in one of these seven global challenges. Indeed, the goals that were set in 2000 at the U.N in New York City are the following: (1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, (2) Achieve universal primary education, (3) Promote gender equality and empower women, (4) Reduce child mortality, (5) Improve maternal health, (6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, (7) Ensure environmental sustainability and finally, (8) Global partnership for development. As you can see for yourselves, these goals cover the totality, in a very specific way, of the seven global challenges we are presenting in this article.
Before we start, we feel the need to specify that the list is presented with no order of importance or priority, as each challenge is as impactful as the others to our global well-being. Thus, the global challenges will simply be presented in alphabetical order
Education happens at all stages of life, and a strong case can be done to promote education to several categories of adults around the world. But the major challenge of education is to reach all children so they can develop the tools and skills to make their way through life. It is simply unfair to them if they are not provided basic education to develop reading, speaking, counting and thinking skills. That is why one of the millennium goals is to achieve universal primary education, which should be a right, not a mere privilege, in all countries on earth. As of 2015, the United Nations evaluate that 57 million children of primary school age are not receiving the basic tools they need to thrive in this complex world of ours. The alternatives for these children in impoverished areas of the world are not what we would wish on any young individual, as they range from child labour, child soldiers, and even child prostitution. Is that a fair alternative to education for these young souls? The answer to this question is no, 100% of the time, and that is why education is a global challenge that needs to be addressed and solved.
Environment (Sustainable development)
It is quite useless for us to explain how the environment is a challenge as you all most probably know the issue we are facing with human activity based climate change and its consequences. To keep it short, the main issue we will be facing for decades to come will be the rising levels of ocean waters, resulting from the melting of northern and southern polar ice caps, which will threat the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. The rise of ocean water not only endangers our housing infrastructure, but more importantly, our farming infrastructure in many regions of the globe. Thus, one of the main consequences of climate change will be shortage in food, which will add to actual food shortage that our poorest neighbors are already experiencing. Therefore, the challenge is mainly to reduce the increase of climate change due to human economic and demographic activity, and leverage clean technologies to manage this global issue as a whole. There are absolutely no borders when we think about our environment. We are not 203 countries, we are simply one species, living on one planet. Let’s act as one!
To keep is as simple as possible, think about global security as the fight on all forms of terrorism, no matter in the name of what cause nor the area of the world these acts are perpetrated. Terrorism is a violent act committed on innocent people in order to install fear in the minds and hearts of a specific population. There is no place for these types of acts in a compassionate, mature and reasonable 21st century. Here at Humble Dreamer, we truly think that if other challenges are solved, such as education, health, human rights and especially poverty, the challenge of global security will slowly disappear of its own. Think about it. If you have something to live for, to thrive for, and to share with loved ones, why would you perpetrate violent acts and sacrifice your life? Education is a strong key to eradicate terrorism, as well as the respect of human rights, often the main reason why violent acts are committed at the first place.
Two of the eight millennium goals are directly linked to health. Indeed, improving maternal health and the combat of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases fall in this global challenge. It is important to understand all the categories that relate to health, such as nutritional health, infectious diseases, reproductive health, maternal health and mental health. The world health organization explains in detail the specificities of each one if you are curious to learn more. It is common-sense that health is at the foundation of a happy life. Therefore, health should definitely be one of the priorities for years to come, and social entrepreneurs are already solving health problematics across the globe as you read these lines. Even the richest man on earth, Bill Gates, through his Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, has decided to directly tackle this issue. It is truly inspiring to see what they are doing with the foundation, it can surely give all social entrepreneurs hope towards solving many health issues around the world.
The U.N decided to tackle the human rights issue with its goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women. This is a great goal, but leaves a lot of other people behind. The idea is to ensure human rights to all, with no exceptions, as was the will of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that occurred in 1948, after the worst war of our history. It is interesting to understand that the notion of human rights is quite recent in the evolution of human ideas, and that today, a larger proportion of people than ever in history is concerned with this issue. Similarly to global security, if education is increased and poverty decreased, chances are quite strong that the respect of human rights around the world will largely increase, as people will have much more tools and knowledge to defend themselves and the rights of their communities.
Population & Migration
The main challenge that arises when we think about population & migration is the demographic boom we have seen over the past century. Indeed, it took all of history, up to 1804, to reach 1 billion of people on earth. Then it took 123 years to increase our global population of another billion. Within less than 100 years since that mark, precisely 90 years, we have seen a demographic explosion of nearly 6 billion people, which brings us today at approximately 7.6 billion souls on earth. The pressure we are imposing on our environment is extreme, as all these people need to eat, drink, clothe, consume natural resources and so on. The challenge for decades to come will be to leverage clean technology in order to support our current and rapidly growing population around the world.
The first of the U.N millennium goals is to eradicate extreme poverty, which according to many specialists is the first step of solving world issues. For those who are not aware, extreme poverty is considered, by the U.N, to be someone earning less than $1/day, while poverty is someone earning less than $2/day. The main challenge dealing with poverty is that in a globalized capitalistic world, people who never needed to pay for rice, fruit, vegetables, water, and so on, living in a sustainable way, even if they did not earn much money, didn’t need much to be able to eat and have a simple lifestyle. Today, things have changed, as everything is commoditized through financial markets. This is where the notion of poverty and extreme poverty really becomes a matter of life or death for billions of people across the globe. This is why social entrepreneurs are investing so much energy and are passionate about helping the poorest get out of that unfair situation.
In conclusion, our goal with this article was not to depress anybody about the current state of our world. It was simply to bring reality to your attention in order to understand what are the main challenges we face as a species for the upcoming centuries. These global issues are what social entrepreneurs are trying to solve, one small social business at a time, and that is what makes them Humble Dreamers. So what about you, are you a Humble Dreamer?
By Tobi Rodrigue
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