Written by Mollie Knight
On Monday it is International Human Solidarity Day. The UN defines International Human Solidarity Day (IHSD) as a day that celebrates human unity and diversity, whilst acting as a reminder for governments to stick to their pledges and raise awareness for the ‘Sustainable Agenda’.
What is ‘Solidarity’?
Solidarity is defined as an awareness of shared interests and objectives that create a psychological sense of unity. Solidarity also refers to the ties in a society that bind people together as one. In this way, solidarity is a fundamental part of interacting with one another. You might feel solidarity with the other people in the excruciatingly slow post office queue, for example (can you tell I have been posting my Christmas presents this week?). But it is obviously harder to feel united on a larger-scale, such as feeling unanimity with someone from Australia you have never met before. Yet, around 385,000 babies are born across the world every day, some of which are born into poverty, whilst others are born into privilege. For me, therefore, solidarity is about recognising this and remembering that at the end of the day, we are all people - whether we won the birth lottery, or not.
The International Human Solidarity Day
The IHSD has taken place annually on the 20th December since its conception at the 2005 UN World Summit. As mentioned, a key part of the IHSD is to remind UN member states of their pledge to the Sustainable Agenda. The main goal of this agenda is to eradicate poverty, so, in turn, poverty eradication is a large part of the IHSD. According to the UN, it is through solidarity and a culture of sharing that poverty can be tackled. Though the number of people living in poverty globally has been going down since 1990, this progress is slowing and, thanks to COVID19, is under threat. New research published by the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research warns that the consequences of the pandemic could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8% of the total human population. This would be the first time that poverty levels have increased since it stood at 36% in 1990, or around 30 years ago. That’s why it is important to mark days such as the IHSD as it acts as a vital reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to human equality across the globe.
Other parts of the Sustainable Agenda include different goals, termed the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDG’s for short, like zero hunger, gender equality and climate action.
More on the SDG’s
The SDG’s have been adopted by all of the UN member states and are supposed to provide a blueprint for achieving “peace and prosperity for people and planet”. The pledge towards these goals was undertaken in 2015 and the aim is for them to be completely implemented by 2030. These goals are so valuable due their holistic & truly global approach to sustainability. How can people lift themselves out of poverty whilst still facing poor education and inadequate sanitation? Though that is just one example, it demonstrates how addressing climate breakdown includes considering political, economic and social, as well as technological, factors. In other words we cannot heal the planet, without helping each other too.
“I think calling it climate change is rather limiting. I would rather call it the everything change” – Margaret Atwood
What can we do?
Get Educated & Empathetic
The biggest thing to promote solidarity is having understanding, and how are you supposed to understand someone else’s experience if you don’t know about it? That’s why making the effort to educate yourself about things happening in places outside the UK is super important. Try listening to the news on BBC World Service to keep up to date with other countries, as they have ‘world news’ sections ( as the BBC is still a British company, it isn’t necessarily the best, but definitely better than the news on some other stations). Social media is a great way to find out about things being suppressed by governments or binge a few documentaries every now and then (my fav globally-focussed docs include ‘Fire at Sea’ and ‘The Look of Silence’). By making yourself aware, you are able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and empathise with their situation.
Raise Awareness, Discuss & Listen
So what do you do with all this new info you have? Share it! Tell your friends! Speak to anyone who will listen! The 2020 BLM protests truly demonstrated the power of social media to spread a message and invoke global solidarity. Make use of the fact we are living in a more connected world - the more people who are talking about something, the more likely things are to change. (I would also suggest activism, but with the way the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill is going I could get done for conspiring😉).
Put Pressure On Those In Power
Though there is strength in numbers, true improvements can only really be implemented by policy change. So email your MPs, Heads of Departments, Provosts, Bosses or Council Members – anyone who can help make the change you want to see.
Give & Donate
If you can, give your time and redistribute your wealth/resources. Volunteer, donate money, donate food, clothes, tools, take part in charity events etc.
What is OWF doing?
Here at OWF we are all about sustainability – healing the globe is at the very core of our ethos. But, we are not planet-exclusive. We love people too! With our partners EcoCart, we make sure that new jobs are made in communities in Turkey through our carbon-offsetting project. It works by paying a small amount at checkout to make your order is completely carbon neutral, then a proportionate amount of money is donated to funding wind farms in communities across the world. We also run our Sustainability Space for students, which encompasses this holistic approach to sustainability and wellness. In collaboration with Click’N’Clean, we run free workshops ranging from Mindfulness to clothes swaps.
To read more about what we are doing to help the planet, check out our ‘Sustainability’ page (https://www.onewearfreedom.com/pages/sustainability), and to find out more about the SDG’s, so you can keep the government accountable, visit the UN website.