What kind of world do you want? Let the U.N. know | TheUnion.com

What kind of world do you want? Let the U.N. know

Namibians proudly displayed their “My World 2015” ballots, which is part of a United Nations project to gather worldwide input on humankind’s most pressing problems. A public forum in January at the Universalist Community of the Mountains (UUCM) church in Grass Valley will give community members the opportunity to weigh in on what matters most around the planet.

Want to have a say in what kind of world we live in? We have a chance to express what matters most to us in a public forum at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains church in Grass Valley Jan. 5, 2014. Whatever your concern, whether affordable and nutritious food, political freedom, income inequality, climate change or better job opportunities, you have a chance to help set the agenda for world improvement. You can express what matters as a citizen of Nevada County and as a citizen of the world. You can help set the United Nations' course for years to come.

In 2000, the U.N. defined a set of eight goals, the Millennium Development Goals, which were designed to focus the world community on solving humankind's most pressing problems. The U.N., its humanitarian agencies and member nations targeted 2015 to achieve significant, measurable improvements in people's lives by focusing on these specific, ambitious goals.

The goals included eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary school education and reducing childhood mortality rates in rich and poor countries alike. The goal to cut world poverty in half has been met. Increased emphasis is being placed on education and women's empowerment. The MDGs successfully concentrated attention and helped funnel billions of dollars toward solving what were humankind's most challenging problems in 2000.

Now the U.N. is asking what kind of world do we want beyond 2015?

The U.N. has intensely debated the future state of the MDGs and how best to revise them. The debate triggered a process, "My World 2015," to generate new post-2015 goals. The core of this effort is intended to be an "inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process open to all stakeholders," according to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

What does that mean for you and me? It means that our voices count.

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The My World 2015 initiative has surveyed more than 1.3 million people worldwide to learn what matters most. It hopes to reach 2 million people by the time it completes its final report later in 2014. Those 2 million people will have a lot to say about where the U.N. concentrates its funding and manpower for the next decade and beyond.

"This extraordinary scope could not have been possible without the work of over 700 organizations across the world who worked with us to ensure My World could reach everyone, including those who are not usually consulted," exclaimed Corinne Woods, global director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign. "And there are extraordinary examples such as 774 members of the Nigerian Youth Corp, who reached 145,000 people, volunteers who surveyed women at maternal health centers in Haiti and … taking My World to waste pickers in the slums of Dharavi, India."

The My World tally to date shows the following issues are the world's top concerns: No. 1 — A good education; No. 2 — Better healthcare; No. 3 — Better job opportunities. No. 4 — An honest and responsive government; No. 5 — Access to clean water and sanitation.

My World 2015 participants in Namibia proudly displayed their ballots proclaiming what matters most in their world. The United Nations Association USA is leading the effort to compile the priorities of communities across the country.

"The Millennium Development Goals have been very important to raising living standards and improving quality of life in so many countries," said Shera Banbury, president of the local UNA-USA Golden Empire Chapter. "To be able to participate in setting the next set of goals and influencing the international donor community is truly a rare opportunity."

"We want to provide a forum for Nevada County to give feedback to UNA-USA and ultimately the U.N. on what matters most to us," Banbury continued. The local forum, "The World We Want 2015," sponsored by the Golden Empire Chapter of the United Nations Association and UUCM's Social Action Committee, will take place at the UUCM Church, 246 S. Church St., Grass Valley, Jan. 5, 2014, starting at 12:30 p.m. The forum will consider the original and evolving goals within the My World process, small group discussions and balloting to register personal priorities.

For information on My World 2015 or to register what personally matters most to you visit, the website at http://myworld2015.org. For information on the UNA/UUCM "The World We Want" forum, contact Golden Empire UNA Chapter President Shera Banbury at 530-277-9390 or UUCM Social Action Committee Chair Carol Ann Jones at 530-432-6772.

Rodney Raub resides in Penn Valley. He is a member of the Golden Empire Chapter of UNA and conducts a monthly UNA discussion group on global affairs.

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