International Influences on Key Global Issues

We live in a world that is impacted by us.

There’s no amount of lobbying, agenda-shifting, politic-twisting, finance-flipping or corporate endorsing that will get us out of this.

I could go on in detail about the issues we face, the faces to blame, or we could face one simple truth: Not enough is being done quickly enough to prevent this planet’s destruction – and in turn, our own.  

Synopsis of Symptoms

Below is a brief summary of some major global issues and what individuals, companies or countries are doing to help or hurt the situation:

  • Climate Change
  • Countries decimated by war
  • Unemployment and Underemployment
  • Basic lack of food or shelter
  • Access to clean water

War & Refugees

More than 43 million people worldwide are now displaced (most often forcibly) as a “result of conflict and persecution”. Major refugee populations include Palestinians (4.8 mil), Afghans (2.9 mil), Iraqis (1.8 mil), and many others according to the United Nations.

Children make up roughly 41% of the world’s refugees, about half of refugees are women, and four-fifths of all refugees are in the developing world in nations that can least afford to host them.

Unemployment & Underemployment

According to the CIA World Factbook, 8.3% of people around the world are unemployed or underemployed (not making enough to live off of).

Let’s say that there is exactly 7.3 billion people on this planet.  8.3% of 7.3 billion is roughly 88 million people who are unemployed or underemployed.

Hunger & MLB

795 million people live without proper nourishment to lead healthy lives.  That’s 1 in 9 people starving. In addition, 66 million young kids go to school hungry in developing countries.

The United Nations World Food Programme calculates that $3.2 billion USD per year would be required to reach all 66 million hungry school-age kids.

$3.2 billion may seem like a lot.  Sure, to the average activist it seems daunting to raise that much money in a lifetime. However, some people don’t find it so tough.

The average Major League Baseball player makes $3.2 million USD per year according to Forbes. But, it would take 10 times the salary of a MLB player to end world hunger.  Who makes that much money?

Carlos Slim: Worth 69 billion USD. Origin of wealth: Telecoms.

Bill Gates: Worth 61 billion USD. Origin of wealth: Microsoft.

Warren Buffett: Worth 44 billion USD. Origin of wealth: Berkshire Hathaway

Granted, Bill Gates does have a humanitarian foundation with his wife Melinda.  However, 3.2 billion is nothing to these top three wealthiest men.

Water: The liquid diamond

783 million people do not have access to clean water. 6 to 8 million people die annually from water-related diseases, and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. UN-Water

Assuming that you’re accessing the internet from a smart-phone, tablet, or computer, you’re luckier than 60% of the world that doesn’t have access to the internet. Internet Live Stats

Now one would expect the pitch, and no I’m not referring to MLB.  Instead of telling you how you can change the world, let’s take a minute to appreciate those who are already trying and reflect upon those who are profiting from global conflict.

International Influences on Issues

1. United Nation’s Climate Talks: Earth To Paris

The “Earth To Paris” campaign for the United Nation’s Foundation Summit on Climate Change is happened this December 7th and 8th.  At this Summit scientists, businesses, innovators, civil society groups and world leaders from every corner of the globe convene to draft a new Global Climate Agreement.  What was agreed in Paris matters to all of us, because we need to instigate the climate conversation beyond Paris and into our daily lives.  Earth To Paris is “expanding the climate conversation to advance progress for people and the planet.

Check out this video summarizing what Earth To Paris hopes to achieve, and what you can do to make your voice heard:

Also at the UN this month was guest speaker 15 year old Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh, founder of an organization called Earth Guardians.

This young man performs internationally at music festivals, has spoken at over 100 high impact rallies, events and conferences around the globe as well as organize demonstrations.  He and his brother Itzcuahtli also give presentations at school regularly to inspire youth to become leaders on behalf of the planet.

Xiuhtezcatl received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was (out of 24 national change makers) chosen to serve on the President’s youth council.

“Xiuhtezcatl is a vital voice for our time. Combining art and creativity with passion, commitment, and clarity, he represents as well as models what it is to be the change our world and planet need. He speaks powerfully from and connects deeply with both the mind and the heart. I am in awe of who Xiuhtezcatl is and all he has already done at such a young age. No matter our age or background, we can all learn from him.”
– Julia Butterfly Hill

2. Companies Profiting From War

  1.  Lockheed Martin (LMT).  The company makes a large range of aircrafts, missiles, unmanned systems, and radar systems.  In the fall of 2012, the company planned on issuing layoff notice to all employees before backing down at the White House’s request.  The company and its employees have been concerned about sequestration (which would include significant cuts to the U.S. Department of Defense. Arms Sales: $36.3 billion, Total Sales: $46.5 billion, Gross Profit: $2.7 billion.
  2. Boeing (BA) is the second-largest U.S. Government contractor, with about $21.5 billion worth of goods.  Based in Chicago, the company makes strategic missile systems, laser and electro-optical systems and global positioning systems (GPS).  However only 46% of their total sales of $68.7 billion came from arms in 2011.  Boeing is also the largest commercial airplane manufacturer in the world, and is known for its space technology (had $1 billion worth of contracts with NASA). Arms Sales: $31.8 billion, Total Sales $68.7 billion, Gross Profit $4 billion.
  3. BAE Systems.  Arms sales constituted 95% of the company’s total sales.  BAE sells L-ROD Bar Armor Systems (shields defense vehicles) and the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer that is a flight simulation for training military pilots.  In 2013, the company said its “growth would likely come from outside the U.S. and Great Britain”.  Arms Sales: $29.2 billion, Total Sales $30.7 billion, Gross Profit $2.3 billion

Other companies profiting from war include General Dynamics (GD), Raytheon (RTN), Northrop Grumman (NOC), Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, EADS, United Technologies (UTX) and other aircraft, missile, weapon and defense companies, as well as privatized military groups.  These companies have highly benefited from the increase in U.S. military spending, which has the largest military budget in the world (In 2000: $312 billion, By 2011: $712 billion).  SIPRI noted that “between 2002 and 2011, arms sales among the top 100 companies grew by 51%”

3. Unemployment: World Economic Forum

Every January there is a World Economic Forum in Davos.  Many of the world’s leaders in influential though gather to solve youth unemployment (an issue that has more than 200 million youth unemployed around the globe).

“What’s encouraging about this Davos is that the conversation has really moved on the issue of global youth employment, to just talking about the challenge, raising awareness of the issue, to actually concretely talking about the potential solutions,” McAuliffe Said in 2014. ” I think we’re moving in the right direction.

Here is a LINK to a video from the Huffington Post (World Economic Forum)

4. Feeding the World From Your Smartphone

As the Syrian refugee crises reaches historic proportions, with “an estimated 9 million people displaced by civil war” just since 2011. Not only do those on the run flee from war, but they run on a dangerous journey and to uncertainty and unwelcome lands.

The World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance branch of the UN, has an app for the iPhone and Androids called ShareTheMeal.

The free app links to either Paypal or a credit/debit card account, and the WFP does the rest.  The food “may include a sweet breakfast with porridge, enriched with special nutrients and maize with beans or peas for lunch.  Every child has her or his own portion.” –

“So many people in that generation are more comfortable with handheld apps than they are with URLs on a desktop,” says Steve Taravella, senior spokesperson for the WFP. “So we are looking for a way to engage young people, help them feel part of the solution.”

In just a trial run in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, more than 120,000 app users raised $850,000 to give more than 1.7 million meals to children in Lesotho.  Now the focus is on Syrian refugees, but once that goal is complete the WFP will shift focus to another population in need.

The WFP’s goal is to eradicate hunger by 2030.

“WFP has been working for five decades to feed hungry people, and sometimes tools or approaches that work for a certain number of years stop being as effective as they could be,” Taravella says. An app is new territory. “In the immediate term, we would define success as a positive response to this app as one more tool in the humanitarian world to help agencies fight hunger.”

Here’s a video on how the app works:


5. Water

UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program were given the Project Innovation Award Grand Prize by the International Water Association in 2008 for providing Cambodia with ceramic water filters.

Ceramic Water Filters are made and distributed by Cambodian nationals, which led to a 50% drop in diarrheal illnesses.  These filters are made from fired clay, and the pores of the material are small enough to remove virtually all protozoa and bacteria.  These Filters are designed to utilize gravity for the filtration process which results in a flow rate of 1-3 liters per hour.

Read the Ceramic Water Filters in Cambodia Field Report

Read More about Water-Purifying Innovations Here 

Read More about an “Idea that will change the World”

So, what am I supposed to do?

We live in a world that, let’s face it: is impacted by us and the actions we make on a day-to-day basis.  Whether it’s implementing carbon-cutting actions in your day-to-day life, donating 50 cents towards a child’s meals for a day, or simply starting a conversation about what you can do in your own community.

We can’t expect to be motivated every single day to change the world.  However, with discipline and hard work, we can change aspects of our own lives to cut down on material consumption, to give back in small or big ways, or to set an example for our peers.

One person can impact the world.

What impact will you make?


Author:  Rebekah A. Dobbs



1] United Nations World Food Programme Statistics on Hunger

2] Business Insider: Charts Expose How Badly NFL Players Get Paid

3] United Nations: Refugees: The Numbers

4] CIA World Factbook: The World

5] UN-Water

6] Earth To Paris – le Hub

7] United Nations Foundation: Earth To Paris

8] Earth Guardians

9] Companies Profiting from War