The President of Junior Chamber International (JCI) has claimed that humanity is in a unique position for the first time in its history to be able to overcome development challenges and other restrictions on “Human Security” that may have been previously beyond its collective abilities.
The claims were made JCI World President Kentaro Harada following his visit to the Maldives last week to look at the organisation’s involvement in local development projects.
The JCI, an NGO which describes itself as a UN-affiliated network of young people and entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s, claims to have over a quarter of a million members worldwide that work to collaborate on community development projects in their respective countries.
Harada said he believed that the country’s work and awareness of global development projects in fields such as the environment reflected the wider international acceptance and improved technical knowhow for overcoming challenges that once seemed insurmountable – even a few decades ago.
“We can all begin working together with small and medium enterprises in order to find solutions to major development goals,” he said. “There is a very high mountain to climb, but we can achieve this I am sure.”
The JCI president said that while showing such optimism in the 19th or 20th century may have seen him derided as a “crazy person”, he believed that there was a much greater acceptance today of the role young people and enterprises could play in working towards meeting goals outlined by organisations like the United Nations.
Harada himself spent two days in the Maldives last week as part of a wider tour of JCI member nations during 2011, having already visited 13 countries since New Year. He used his Maldivian visit to view initiatives such as education and environment programmes that were being managed locally.
Visiting certain projects along with JCI Maldives President, Shaneez Saeed, Harada said that he had been pleasantly surprised during a school visit by statistics that claim 40 per cent of the Maldivian students were aware of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
“In most countries, around just one percent of the similar population know these goals,” he said.
Rather than a spot of last minute revision, Harada believed that the Maldives’ apparent success in detailing the eight UN objectives, based around attempts to try and globally cut poverty and hunger, combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS, improve child health and universal education and ensuring gender equality, all stemmed from concerns about the country’s long-term geographic stability.
“The main reason I believe [that these goals are commonly known in the Maldives] is down to environmental sustainability,” he said. “I remember breaking news all over the world of your government having underwater meetings. It is the efforts of groups and business working to these goals that have made these objectives well known.”
Although the JCI aims to work with business and organisations at local level to try and encourage various development programmes, the organisation claimed that the growing ease of connecting with others through social networking and the internet made communication about development challenges much easier.
Despite upholding differences between countries like the Maldives and Harada’s native Japan in terms of cultural identity, the NGO’s president said he still believed that it was vital for groups like the JCI to help try and foster mutual understanding between different nations and communities.
Shaneez Saeed, who heads the work of the JCI in the Maldives, told Minivan News following last week’s visit how training schemes brought to the country from other nations were highlighting possibilities for mutal understanding.
Saeed, used the example of a training programme held this month where parents were being encouraged to listen more to the views of children as successful examples of overturning nationally held beliefs.
Harada conceded that despite his overall optimism for global development initiatives such as those promoted by the JCI, there was significant work required to improve human security both nationally and internationally to ensure that everyone was able to have a “daily peaceful life”.
“This is true not only in the Maldives, but in Asia, Africa and all over the world. We cannot ignore that awful things happening in this world that require attention,” he said. “Since the end of the cold war, we have seen national governments trying to evade human rights.”
Nonetheless, Harada claimed that governments, businesses and everyday citizens had unprecedented opportunities to achieve significant steps forward in human development globally.