October 17, 2012 08:30 ET

UEnd: Ending Poverty: I believe we can, and I'm not alone

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Oct. 17, 2012) - Today, on October 17, we celebrate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It's a time to come together and put our collective global focus on one of the biggest issues of our time. In our world today there are approximately 1.3 Billion people living on under $1.25 a day. And to be clear, that isn't some random number. Living on under $1.25 per day means that a person doesn't have enough to get the necessary food, water, shelter, and medicine to survive. It means they are literally dying every day from being too poor. The immediate result is that over 24,000 people die every day from being too poor. The related negative effects of depression, psychological pain, loss of productivity, and financial implications are hard to quantify but no less real.

I bring up these facts not so anyone feels guilty about it, as guilt serves no one. I highlight these facts because I believe that we can't truly change a thing until we look at that thing truly.

In 2000 the UN looked at the global situation truly. Their response was to say that we need to do better. They established the Millennium Development Goals: eight international development targets for the world to strive towards that would result in, simply stated, "at least enough" for all by 2015.

Today's world is facing so many truly extraordinary exceptional challenges. Impending financial collapse, environmental degradation and destabilization, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and pandemic threats. And, extreme poverty.

But today, as we collectively focus on the end of extreme poverty, the facts point in one direction. Great progress is being made on extreme poverty around the world. In June 2011 the World Bank reported that 28 of the 63 low-income countries had moved out of extreme poverty since 2000. And as the Economist reported on March 3, 2012, for the first time ever the number of poor is declining everywhere.

And we also see a compounding and accelerating effect from the Gen Y culture and the current state of technology. Don Tapscott, leading Gen Y researcher, tells us that Gen Ys view themselves as global citizens and fully believe they will change the world for good. They see the challenges ahead of us, but believe that technology and innovation combined with the human spirit will be able to overcome those challenges. Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize and author of Abundance, would support that perspective. He believes that with three billion new minds and voices coming online over the next few years and joining the global conversation we're about to hit a radical tipping point. He points out that the rate of innovation is a function of the people actually communicating, so get ready for the innovation explosion. This is the not the first generation to believe it can change the world, but it is the first time that the technology, tools and omnipresent communication are making it possible.

This is likely one of the most crucial parts in this journey towards the end of poverty on our planet. We have, as Jim Collins describes in "Good to Great", started to turn the flywheel. The initial momentum has been born of immense and sustained effort. We could congratulate ourselves and relax because of the hard work we've done to get here. But a slight hesitation could reverse all of that work far too quickly. We have all worked too hard and come too far to take our foot off the gas right now. This is the very time at which a strong push will result in exponential positive effects. This is the time.

And it has never been easier to play a part in this historic movement. Donate to one of the great charities working to empower people to define and solve their own problems like Amanda Lindhout's Global Enrichment Foundation or CAUSE Canada. Hold your own fundraising event on charity:water or IndieGoGo. Give up your birthday or other holidays and ask for UEnd:Poverty gift cards in lieu of traditional gifts. Educate yourself online or at the bookstore so you can make informed decisions about what to do or not do. Partake in one of the many great film festivals across the country. Go visit another nation to make these issues real to you. Go to a concert for a cause, like the recent GlobalCitizen.org concert in New York's Central Park. Advocate through organizations like RESULTS for good legislation changes and appropriate governmental decisions and participation. Educate your friends by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter.

What it comes down to, and what it has always come down to, is people. It's up to me. It's up to you.

And as Henry Ford said "whether you believe you can or you can't, you're right".

I believe we can, and I'm not alone.

Jay Baydala is Founder and Executive Director of UEnd:poverty (uend.org), a non-profit based in Calgary that connects Canadians with poverty-ending projects around the world, and Co-Founder of Sparkle Good, a smartphone app for micro-donations.

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