This is a big week for global anti-poverty efforts.  Later this week, world leaders will gather in New York City at the United Nations to ratify the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, a framework to end extreme poverty for the world’s poorest people.  Rock star Bono of U2 fame and co-founder of the ONE Campaign described the excitement as only he can.

If you are allergic to fanfare you’d better bolt your doors and shutter your windows on September 25, because there is going to be a lot of it that day in the vicinity of the United Nations, when world leaders ratify the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This is a genuinely big deal, of large consequence — let’s hope — especially for the poorest people on the planet.

During the lead-up to the Global Goals ratification ceremonies, people around the world are celebrating with unveiling events in more than 100 locations across the globe.  The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta hosted Global Goals Illumination on September 21, 2015 as part of the worldwide celebration.  High school and college students from around Atlanta introduced the goals one by one, and local international aid experts discussed their expected impact, particularly for women and girls in developing countries.  The evening ended with a moving interfaith prayer service.

The goals themselves are wide-ranging and ambitious, with emphasis on ending extreme poverty in the developing world, defined as living on less than $1.25 per day.   They are the work of more than 150 nations and represent a vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Global Goals for Sustainable Development

1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life On Land
16. Peace and Justice/Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

As I listened to the optimistic voices of the students reading the goals, it struck me just how small the world has become in my lifetime.  We can easily see outside the small confines of our communities and feel compassion for people a world away living in dire poverty and indescribable circumstances.  It is unbelievable that slightly more than a billion people worldwide live on less than $1.25 a day—a third of the cost of a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta
The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta

The United Nations 2015 Global Goals remind all of us that we are global citizens.  There are ways that you can contribute to the success of these goals internationally.  Advocacy groups like the ONE Campaign are a fantastic source of information on initiatives that are going on around the world.  CARE, led by Georgia’s own Michelle Nunn, works directly on poverty fighting initiatives in the world’s poorest nations.  Groups like Compassion International and Heifer International are also avenues to directly affect the lives of children and communities in the poorest areas of the world.

I encourage you to take the time to click on the links above and take a closer look at the Global Goals and their potential impact on the world we live in.  I could not help thinking how impossible some of these goals seem.  No Poverty.  Zero Hunger.  Really?  Then it hit me:  to shoot far you have to aim high, and if we each do our part in our own spheres of influence and in the global community, we can alleviate extreme poverty at home and abroad and end the suffering that comes with it.  It will take all of us.


Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women.  She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.  She is also a proud supporter of the ONE Campaign.