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← A global movement to solve global problems

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Showing Revision 6 created 09/29/2020 by Erin Gregory.

  1. For years, I have been
    working on a simple idea:
  2. for humanity to take its next leap ahead,
  3. we need to work together across borders
    to solve global issues.
  4. In the modern world,
  5. no wall or border
    can protect us from crisis.
  6. We have no other choice but to unite,
  7. and we need to do it fast.
  8. In 2016, I was devastated
    by the UK's decision

  9. to leave the European Union.
  10. I'm French, and for me, the EU is a symbol
    of a more open and global society.
  11. But suddenly, my beliefs were shattered.
  12. And I wasn't alone in feeling this way.
  13. My partner, Andrea, who's Italian,
  14. and Damian, a German friend,
  15. also felt the shock of seeing
    the world turning inward.
  16. We realized that despite being
    from three different countries,
  17. we witnessed the same challenges:
  18. migration flows being dealt with
    in an inhuman manner,
  19. climate change
  20. or high youth unemployment.
  21. And we also had the same hopes and dreams
    in our everyday lives.
  22. We also realized
    that to solve European issues,
  23. the outdated model of always
    putting national interests first
  24. had to go.
  25. So we decided to act.

  26. For a few months, we worked on
    the idea of launching Volt,
  27. the first pan-European political movement.
  28. And then, naturally, we told
    our Facebook friends,
  29. and a lot of them responded
    saying they were up for the challenge
  30. and wanted to help.
  31. People started holding small
    community meetings in parks,
  32. universities and pubs
  33. to discuss their common future
  34. and share their solutions
    to the continent's biggest problems.
  35. We mobilized tens of thousands of people
    across 28 European countries
  36. Two years in,

  37. Damian was elected
    to the European parliament
  38. on the campaign run
    by volunteers across borders
  39. on the idea that we are stronger together.
  40. We showed that by
    collaborating across borders,
  41. by uniting and acting as one,
  42. we could start changing how people think.
  43. We were the first ones to attempt
    something of this scale
  44. and to succeed.
  45. Despite this,

  46. after the European elections in May 2019,
  47. Andrea and I looked into each other's eyes
  48. and asked that frank question
    that you never want to ask
  49. once you have worked for two years
    towards something
  50. that actually worked out:
  51. "Is this enough?"
  52. No, it wasn't.

  53. We knew that today's urgent challenges
    are not just European
  54. but global.
  55. We also knew that we couldn't even
    attempt to solve them
  56. by only focusing on Europe,
  57. a continent that represents less than
    10 percent of the world population.
  58. The underlying issue
    is that the way we see the world
  59. and the way the world works
  60. are fundamentally wrong.
  61. In the span of two generations,
  62. the world has changed more
    than in the previous 20,000 years.
  63. We can land on the moon,
  64. we can wake up in Shanghai
    and go to bed in New York.
  65. We have access to a huge amount
    of information all the time, everywhere.
  66. But we still see the world
    as our immediate vicinity.
  67. But issues like COVID-19,
    climate change, migration,
  68. fiscal justice or human rights
  69. mean that we need to think
    and unite beyond national borders.
  70. A global approach is needed to solve them.
  71. Countries need to collaborate,
  72. share resources, information
    and solutions.
  73. It's not just the right thing to do
  74. but it's also the smart one.
  75. So in the weeks following
    Damian's election,

  76. Andrea and I decided
    that we would create a global movement
  77. to unite people beyond borders
  78. and solve those issues
    that concern us all.
  79. We called it NOW!
    because we're not very creative,
  80. and because it needs to happen now.
  81. So I know that going beyond national
    borders is not the easiest thing to do,
  82. so here's the framework
    that has been guiding our work.
  83. I call it "think, unite and leap forward."
  84. First, we need to change the way
    we think about the world.

  85. Whether we like it or not,
  86. we already live in a globalized world.
  87. We need to stop thinking
    within national frameworks
  88. and start thinking globally.
  89. Take, for example,
    how we think about taxation.
  90. Multinational companies
    like Facebook or Amazon
  91. already operate across borders,
  92. but they pay very little taxes
    in very few countries
  93. because we think of them
    within national frameworks.
  94. And as a result,
  95. we lack a global tax system.
  96. Due to this,
  97. countries are deprived of at least
    500 billion dollars annually.
  98. Five hundred billion dollars.
  99. To put it in perspective:
  100. with half of that amount of money,
  101. we could put an end
    to global hunger for one year.
  102. But we don't,
  103. because of the way
    we think about the world.
  104. At NOW! we want to change this.

  105. We connect people
    from all across the world
  106. who discuss, work together and understand
  107. that global is the new normal
  108. and that they have more in common
    than what separates them.
  109. We host weekly events
  110. in which we discuss topics
    such as LGBT rights,
  111. pandemics,
  112. fiscal justice
  113. or mental health.
  114. We break down those global challenges
  115. to see how they impact people
    in various parts of the world.
  116. And our members have
    already shown a global thinking,
  117. actively rallying their governments
    to solve those issues,
  118. like ensuring a fair distribution
    of vaccines across the world.
  119. Second, after changing the way we think,

  120. we need to unite beyond borders.
  121. This way, we can make governments
    act on global issues.
  122. Take the example of the erosion
    of democracy in Hong Kong.
  123. China has systematically cracked down
    on rights, democracy and freedoms,
  124. but countries have barely responded
    to protect Hong Kongers.
  125. And I don't mean weak
    statements of condemnation
  126. that won't lead to any actual change,
  127. but proper responses such as sanctions.
  128. That's why at NOW!,
    a couple of weeks back,
  129. we launched a campaign
    to demand that democracies rally
  130. to be able to stand up
    meaningfully to China.
  131. And to get their attention,
  132. we started hosting weekly protests
    in front of Chinese embassies.
  133. Within a couple of weeks,
  134. we engaged more than
    a million people online.
  135. Our hope is that by uniting
    and mobilizing people across borders,
  136. we will be able
    to successfully lobby nations
  137. into imposing coordinated
    sanctions on China.
  138. Finally, we must have
    the courage to leap forward

  139. to create the world of tomorrow.
  140. We need a system of governance
    that works for us all across the world.
  141. And while some supernational institutions
    like the United Nations exist,
  142. their enforcement mechanisms
    are extremely limited.
  143. Citizens cannot participate,
  144. and national interests often prevail.
  145. And on the national level,
  146. political parties are bound
    by electoral timetables and borders,
  147. which means that they cannot operate
    in a coordinated global manner.
  148. Policy making, governance and politics
    need to stretch further.
  149. Take the example of the response
    to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  150. Countries have shown an incredibly
    shortsighted approach to the pandemic.
  151. They haven't collaborated
    when it comes to protective equipment,
  152. vaccines or medicines.
  153. At NOW! we launched a campaign

  154. demanding that the World Health
    Organization ensures
  155. that health workers across the world,
    regardless of their nationalities,
  156. get priority access
    to future COVID-19 vaccines.
  157. We leveraged a network of doctors
    on social media to raise awareness
  158. and started a petition
    targeted at the WHO.
  159. For two weeks,
  160. our members spread the word
    digitally and on the streets,
  161. and then we got a response
    from the Director-General of the WHO
  162. welcoming our campaign,
  163. reemphasizing that the power to do so
    lies within member states,
  164. but committing to working
    with them in that direction.
  165. And look -- this was a very nice letter,
    but it was completely pointless.
  166. The WHO cannot act
    meaningfully on this issue.
  167. But the point is,
  168. a United Nations agency should
    be able to act meaningfully,
  169. should be able to create binding policies
    and implement them
  170. when faced with a global threat.
  171. Right now, the most we can hope for

  172. is for some world leaders
    to hear our scream
  173. and decide to do the right thing.
  174. This cannot continue.
  175. In the globalized world,
  176. we need a true democratic and accountable
    global system of governance.
  177. And that's also what
    we're working towards,
  178. but I know that global governance
    will not happen overnight.
  179. For this, we need people
    to push their governments
  180. to act in a global manner,
  181. to show that collaboration
    leads to better results.
  182. We need to prove the case
  183. before we can change
    the way the world works.
  184. So this is my framework:

  185. think beyond national borders,
  186. unite across the world
  187. and leap forward to make sure
    that the world actually works as one.
  188. And I know it is easier said than done,
  189. but it is doable.
  190. Take our case as an example.
  191. NOW! was only launched
    on the first of January 2020
  192. but already counts thousands of members
    in more than 100 countries.
  193. We are beginning to see that it
    is possible to unite beyond borders,
  194. that it is within our reach.
  195. And we're not special,
    nor am I in any way.
  196. I don't have any cool skills,
  197. and the thought of giving
    this talk terrified me.
  198. But I am testing different ways
    to effect change on a global scale
  199. because I know that national mindsets
    and national frameworks
  200. have to leave room for something bigger,
  201. for something better.
  202. My hope is that within my lifetime,

  203. I will see what living
    as one world actually means,
  204. that by uniting,
  205. we will be able to safeguard democracy,
  206. to protect the environment,
  207. to save lives by sharing vaccines,
  208. to create safer routes for migration,
  209. among many other achievements.
  210. I don't know whether
    I have the one solution --
  211. no one does.
  212. I don't know whether
    NOW! will be successful
  213. in achieving these goals.
  214. But this is not the point.
  215. The point is that you should take action
    to effect change on the global scale.
  216. My hope is that many of you will
    start to work together across borders,
  217. that you will create and innovate
    new ways for the world to be truly one.
  218. Because yes, we are stronger together.
  219. So what are we waiting for?
  220. Thank you.