There is overwhelming evidence that people care about others who are suffering—when they can see the suffering. Just think of the global outpouring of support whenever a devastating tsunami or earthquake makes the news. The problem is that ongoing tragedies like deadly diseases and poverty don’t make the news. They’re invisible to many of us. And so the caring of millions of people goes untapped.
We hope to help change that. With the effort we’re helping launch, we want to raise the visibility of these problems. We want to give global citizens a way to lend their voice, urging governments, companies, and nonprofits to make these issues a priority.
It is called Global Citizen, and you can sign up at globalcitizen.org. You will be able to get updates on how you can help, share what you’re learning, and connect with other people and organizations who care about similar issues. But being a global citizen is not just about being part of one organization; it’s about being part of a movement made up of many effective organizations including global groups like CIVICUS, Save the Children, the ONE Campaign, ActionAid, Oxfam, and Greenpeace, as well as smaller national organizations from Sri Lanka to South Africa. We hope this effort will help these groups grow, building the movement of global citizens. Their millions of members are also global citizens, working on different global problems.
Global citizens have an especially important role to play this year. In September, the United Nations will agree on a set of goals about what should be done for the poor over the next 15 years. The UN did this once before, in 2000, and it was one of the best ideas for development either of us has ever seen. It focused the world on key measures of how many people get the basics of a productive life: good health and a chance to get an education and make the most of economic opportunities.
We hope the goals adopted this year continue that work. Nearly 1,000 organizations in 130 countries have come together to launch a campaign called action/2015 to make sure they do. But we need even more voices—and by joining Global Citizen, you can add yours. Along with other groups, Global Citizen will be asking their members to hold their leaders accountable for the goals they sign up for in September, particularly those relating to the health of women and children.