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Who would have predicted the chaotic situation facing us as we head into 2018? Yet the great untold story continues to be the progress made by hundreds of millions of families in their exodus from poverty and hunger. Here are the opportunities I think The Hunger Project and all like-minded NGOs can leverage in solidarity with people’s self-reliant efforts.

  1. Seventieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Our first principle – human dignity – is drawn exactly from the UDHR preamble. Recognition of human dignity is under assault globally, and we all must sharpen our ability to reawaken people’s understanding of what we really mean by “inalienable rights.”
  2. Halting Gender-based violence, including Child Marriage. Powerful and abusive men are finally losing their jobs, and more women are finding the courage to stand for office. We must seize this historic moment to deepen people’s understanding of the universal nature of this struggle in the most impoverished corners of our world. This year’s Girls Not Brides global conference is a key opportunity.
  3. Youth Rural Employment. The world community has reached the “lip service” stage in recognizing the tragedy of massive youth unemployment – highlighting a few success stories but doing little to solve the problem at scale. The next step is to press for the policy changes to truly invest in the productivity of rural youth – particularly young women.
  4. Technology. Mobile internet coverage is nearly universal, and smartphones now retail at $60. This is the year where all of us need to seek out ways to leverage this infrastructure to link people to the information they need – particularly every frontline health and education worker. The ICT4D international conference in May in Lusaka will be a good opportunity to discuss the potential of new technologies.
  5. CSW62: Fortuitously, the main theme for this year’s Commission on the Status of Women is “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” and the review theme is access to technology. Perfect!
  6. Integrated Programming: Despite the continuing narrowly-focused nature of most development funding, the wisdom of the kind of holistic strategies we’ve long stood for is finally becoming critical to gender empowerment, resilience and good nutrition. The Hunger Project is pleased to be part of Locus – a working group building evidence and a network for best practices.
  7. HLPF. The big review of global progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is now the “High-Level Political Forum,” scheduled each year in July. This year, the Forum will focus on SDGs 6 (water), 7 (energy), 11 (sustainable communities), 12 (sustainable consumption) and 15 (life on land). Forty-eight nations are preparing their Voluntary National Reviews, and citizens should exert their voice in this process.  (Take note Benin, Mexico and Senegal!)
  8. Elections. Many countries have national and state elections this year, and issues of economic inequality and gender will likely be on the agenda in all of them.
  9. G20 – Argentina is hosting 45 meetings leading up to the G20 Summit in November, including a Civil Summit, a Youth Summit and a Women’s Summit – all of which are key opportunities to shape the policies of most of the world’s economy.
  10. COP24. This year’s climate conference in Poland seeks to write technical rules and bring national policies in line with emissions cuts. Nothing could be of more importance to the long-term prospects for impoverished rural people than addressing climate change.

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