World Problems Need Global Solutions, Lyceum Speaker Says

March 2018

We live in a time when the world’s problems don’t recognize national borders. Speaking at this week’s Presidential Lyceum, former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin championed globalization and worldwide cooperation as the only effective way to address a world of hurt.

 

It’s a cause he is uniquely suited to defend, having spent a lifetime focused on getting the people of the world to work together. He was instrumental in the creation of the G-20, an international body that meets annually to shape the global economic agenda. He served as a governor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has advised the African Development Bank and was the commissioner for the Global Ocean Commission.

In his talk, Martin reminded students that successful globalization requires a major step away from the notion of national sovereignty, embraced by so many countries before two world wars and a global depression made nations increasingly interdependent. 

In fact, Martin maintains that virtually every crisis on our horizon is a global concern.

The environment? Global. “Climate change does not stop at national borders. Our oceans are dying.”

Refugees? Global. “It’s immoral for a country to shut their doors on refugees. Refugees are people who are in trouble.”

Disease? Finance? Hunger? All global, and all requiring equal commitment and equal sacrifice from every nation. “We need to forget we are Americans. We need to forget we are Canadians. We need to forget we are Africans,” he said. In order to arrive at solutions truly geared to the common good, he said, we have to remember just one thing: “We are people.”

During the question-and-answer period, Martin had the opportunity to talk about his passion and commitment to the aboriginal people of Canada – the First Nations. “Every country has aboriginal people,” he said. “Every country has treated its aboriginal people in a way that is beyond belief.” 

Canada’s aboriginal people still face economic and medical hardships that are largely ignored. In response, he founded the Martin Family Initiative, a private foundation that focuses on early childhood issues, parenting, health, elementary and secondary education for First Nations people. 

At several points in the discussion, Martin returned to what he believes to be the most dire situation the world is likely face, from both an economic and humanitarian perspective. He projects that a population explosion in Africa will drastically outpace job creation, infrastructure and education. He pointed specifically at his greatest worry, which is the dismal state of education for African women.

Sheridon Ouma is a freshman from Kenya, where her father works with the African Development Bank. As students and faculty mingled after the event, Martin approached her. “Did I get Africa right?” he asked. She assured him that he had, and went on to describe the advances she has seen among rural African women, once they’re given a chance at learning.

They were joined by sophomore Corleous Meyer Kelly, an international business major and former Marine. Meyer Kelly served his final posting at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. “Education is key,” he agreed. “But what are we focusing our education on?” Both students pointed to the need to integrate technology into the fabric of the education all African students receive – men and women.

Who will lead the next generation? What kind of young leader understands the urgency of global collaboration, and marries it with compassion? Martin turned, motioning toward the PBA honor students filtering out of the room, and said, “All of them.”

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