Diamond Light
Newsletter of the Aquarian Age Community
2006 No. 3
Back Issues
Forerunners of the Aquarian Age; Meeting Humanity's Need
By Kathy Newburn

The 59th Annual United Nations' Department Of Public Information/Nongovernmental Organizations' Conference held at United Nations headquarters in New York from September 6-8 (UN/DPI/NGO), was entitled "Unfinished Business: Effective Partnerships for Human Security and Sustainable Development."

The timing of the Conference was auspicious in that it coincided with the Virgo Solar Festival. This annual event, preceding the opening of the General Assembly, honors and strengthens the oft silent and unheralded planetary work of non-governmental organizations. Not unlike the "work" of the energies of the divine feminine that pour into our planetary life via the constellation Virgo, the NGO community is pledged to sustain, protect, heal and nourish the planet.

It is only through human participation, in a spirit of goodwill and right human relations, that we can transform our planet into a great station of light and love within the solar system, which is its spiritual destiny. The Conference provided a palpable demonstration of this reality and brought home the recognition that the number and strength of the individuals and groups working for planetary transformation is now so great that a tide has turned in human events.

The gathering represented six hundred NGOs and included over one thousand representatives from more than ninety countries. Each Conference panel, as well as each participating NGO included one representative under the age of thirty to help ensure the widest possible exchange of views and experiences. The focus of the conference was upon the partnerships created between civil society, governments and the U.N. working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) signed by 189 world leaders in 2000 in which they pledged, among other goals, to halve world poverty by the year 2015.

Despite past efforts, we still live in a highly imbalanced world: 2.5 billion people live on under $2/day; one billion have no access to clean water; one-third of the global population lives without electricity; 30,000 children die each day from poverty and another 30,000 from preventable diseases, or as Jeffrey Sachs states, "because they can't afford to live,"—totaling 22 million needless deaths each year.

While progressive growth has been made in the developing world to meet the MDGs, large numbers of people still live in extreme poverty at the same time that the developed nations continue to spend $900 billion annual for armaments production and half of the one hundred wealthiest entities in the world are corporations.

A central tenet of the MDGs is that poverty reduction cannot be conducted in a top-down approach, but instead must be implemented from the bottom up, and this is where NGO participation becomes essential. Mr. Salil Shetty, Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, informed us that progress has been made towards achieving the goals: overall, world poverty has lessened from 28% in 1990, to 19% in 2002. But even with this success, in certain parts of the world, hunger and poverty continue to rise. Thus, the focus must be kept alive and groups and individuals are mobilizing throughout the world to rededicate themselves to help humanity achieve and implement the goals.

At the Conference, Jan Elliason, departing President of the General Assembly, warned U.N. officials to understand the truth of Shakespeare's counsel that "there is a world outside Verona" as a way of asking the U.N. to build bridges with civil society. The U.N., he said, needs to hear civil society's criticisms and concerns because this helps them grow and toughen up so that together we can move more fully into the 21st century.

Dumisani Nyoni, the 25 year old Director of the Zimele Institute, a Division of the Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), one of Zimbabwe's oldest and most widespread NGOs, asked us to consider the root causes of poverty that need to be addressed before we can move forward. Working in educational initiatives in rural Zimbabwe, he has found that the most effective means of changing the current dynamic is by bringing people together—we learn through first-hand experience, in contact with others and by sharing our experience.

The Conference closed with a touching tribute to Secretary-General Kofi and Nan Annan, who will be retiring at the end of the year. Mr. Annan told us, "Your meeting not only provides eloquent evidence of the ever increasing partnerships between civil society and the United Nations, it gives meaning to the idea that people are at the heart of everything we do." And he stressed the importance of the work that NGOs do on the "ground," in the field for it is they who, in cooperation with governments, are counted on to implement the MDGs.