So you’ve pledged your support, maybe even volunteered – and you still want to do more? That’s great – because ultimately, real progress in long-term development rests on your commitment and action, as an individual. Here are some more ideas for what you can do.
Put sustainable development on the public agenda.
Canada’s international policies affect rural communities and smallholder farming in developing countries. Let your Member of Parliament know that you want Canada to live up to its commitment to provide international assistance. Voice your concern if our policies do not provide fair and equal opportunities for developing countries.
Consult other web sites for information about Canada’s foreign policy and international aid:
- The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is the federal agency that coordinates our development assistance. Help inform our aid strategy by participating in CIDA consultations and policy dialogues. You can also join discussions at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).
- The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) is a coalition of about 100 Canadian organizations working for social and economic development in developing countries and in Canada. Look for a non-government perspective on development issues on their web site.
- If you’d like a deeper understanding about Canada and development, the North-South Institute is a good place to start. A non-profit, non-partisan organization, it is the only independent research institute in Canada focused on international development. “Global Issues that Affect Everyone” and the Eldis Gateway are other useful links.
Walk the talk
As consumers and citizens, we make decisions and take actions every day that make a difference to development – in Canada and overseas. Does your lifestyle contribute to sustainable development and global equity?
- One-fifth of the world’s people account for four-fifths of the world’s private consumption expenditures. They own 87% of the world’s vehicles; the poorest fifth own just 1%. They consume 58% of the world’s energy; the poorest fifth use just 4%. Our consumption is based, in part, on resource extraction in developing countries – leaving little in those countries for long-term local development.
- Small-scale farmers – often women supporting their families – get very little of what we pay for food. For example, the 15 million small coffee producers often get less than 10% of the price we pay. Their poor return on their investment leads to spiralling debt and further impoverishment of their families and their communities. Fair trade goods are bought from cooperatives that allow farmers to earn a fair living. Ask your supermarket to stock fair trade products – and pay a fair price for the food you eat.
- Make a donation, or volunteer your time, to support organizations working for sustainable development.
- If you belong to a group – a church group, a parents’ group, a book group, or even a group of friends – consider hosting an event that helps others become more aware of development issues. (Your event can be a fundraiser too!) At Global Citizens For Change you can find many ideas for group activities.
- For more ideas about taking action – as individuals, as businesses, as organizations, visit the CCIC web site.
Teach your children well
Our children are tomorrow’s citizens and leaders, and the community they will live in as adults will be increasingly global. Yet at school and from our media, they learn little about the hopes and fears, successes and struggles of people beyond our borders, especially in rural areas of low-income countries – and even less about the impact we have on their lives.
You can help your children understand and appreciate their ways of life, and develop the knowledge they will need to create and support caring and sustainable communities in the future. Talk to your children about global issues. And, for greater impact, talk to your child’s school, or school board, about developing a curriculum that supports global education.
Here are a few places to start:
- Unicef offers classroom lessons about children’s rights, peace building, child trafficking and other child–focused issues.