Last week I joined a community of global citizens for a week where we came together to promote peace, tackle the world’s biggest challenges, and work together toward the achievement of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. At a time when the world is grappling with violence, terrorism and poverty, I have never been so inspired to stand in a room full of people from different countries and cultures with one common goal: to come together to build stronger, healthier, and peaceful communities.
Where was this magical place, you ask?
It was at Junior Chamber International’s (JCI) Global Partnerships Summit, held annually in New York City. Since 2008, JCI – a membership organization with over 200,000 active members in over 100 countries – has been a leading partner of Nothing But Nets. JCI has raised over $3 million to send nets and other critical life-saving malaria interventions and held hundreds of advocacy meetings in support for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Because of partnerships such as the one between JCI and Nothing But Nets, the global malaria community has made enormous progress, achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing malaria incidences by 2015. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted worldwide between 2000 and 2015. Thanks to interventions such as bed nets, there was a 30% reduction of malaria cases worldwide and a 34% reduction in Africa.
But JCI members aren’t satisfied yet. In fact, at the Global Partnerships Summit they were already hard at work taking an in-depth look at the Global Goals and developing action plans to educate, advance, and implement the goals in their respective communities around the world. JCI chapters are challenging each other to engage their country’s government and private sector to participate in a meaningful, positive way.
Above all, they understand the interconnectedness of all of the Global Goals. They understand defeating malaria is not just a global health issue, it is a gender equality issue – bcause pregnant women are most at risk. It is an education issue – because kids who are sick are unable to attend school. It is an economic issue – because economic growth in countries with high malaria transmission is lower than in countries without malaria.
Spending the past few days with these young, passionate, globally-minded citizens reminded me of the power we have when we work together to achieve common goals. It reinforced what I’ve known all along: With committed partners like JCI, we can improve the lives of people around the world and defeat malaria in this generation.