As the ball drops down over Times Square this New Year's Eve, three billion people around the world will be living in poverty. They will want for food, clothing, shelter, clean water, basic hygiene, and medical supplies. But most importantly, they will want for the self-reliance with which to sustain their own livelihoods -- and ultimately, to govern their own lives and economies.
SNV -- an international not-for-profit development organization that works with local partners in 36 of the world's poorest countries to equip communities, businesses and organizations with the tools, knowledge and connections they need to increase their incomes and gain access to basic services -- has made a New Year's resolution: by 2015, we seek to make a lasting difference in the lives of 40 million people living in poverty.
In 2012, SNV's global programs have improved livelihoods and living conditions for more than 9 million people and are continuing to have an impact. We realize that to end the cycle of poverty once and for all, the efforts we make today must continue tomorrow. Today's young people are part of tomorrow's solutions and we must make room for them to get involved.
In celebration of the New Year, SNV is reaching out to today's youth through a New Year's card of hope, filled with inspirational messages from global leaders and philanthropists.
With messages from President Bill Clinton, Governor Tom Ridge, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Chief Imam of India Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, American actress, singer and activist Rosario Dawson, and others, this card of hope promises to bring tomorrow's leaders one step closer to changing the world. By planting the seed of inspiration today, we are preparing to grow sustainable action tomorrow.
"Today's generation of young people holds more power than any generation before it to make a positive impact on the world." These words, spoken by President Bill Clinton, address the capacity of today's youth on many levels.
With each generation comes not only new energy, but also new ideas. In reaching out to the next generation, SNV hopes to not only foster a growing spirit of humanitarianism, but also to the change the paradigm of giving itself.
We believe that if the next generation can see people living in poverty as a part of the solution --rather than as objects of a solution -- we can make significant progress. For truly ending the cycle of poverty requires engagement on the part of the affected populations themselves.
In essence, this is the concept of "inclusive growth."
According to the United Nations, inclusive growth starts from the premise that societies based on equality tend to achieve higher rates of poverty reduction. Inclusive growth ensures that everyone can participate in the growth process and everyone shares in the benefits of growth as well.
Simply, inclusive growth is an integrated approach to social and economic development, linking the private, government, and civil sectors together in recognition that no one entity can solve the problem independently. SNV has developed more than 140 inclusive business projects around the world that implement a model which links businesses and members of the private sector with smallholder farmers, local communities, government, and members of civil society.
Youth constitute almost half of the world's population-and disproportionately so in the developing world. Addressing their needs is critical for the future. But so is harnessing their participation. Engaging youth at an early age on issues of global development is the best chance we have for fostering compassionate global citizenry with strong ethics of equity, justice, tolerance, and peace.
As the New Year commences, so too does a renewed sense of what is before us -- and more importantly, of what is possible. I urge everyone -- regardless of your age and where you live -- to take that first step. Think about what you can do to end the cycle of poverty. Be inspired. Be bold. A new -- and better -- reality is in our hands.