The term “Global Issues” simply refers to concerns and issues that are relevant to the world at large. As the world has become more interconnected economically and through electronic media, there is an increase of the social and political concerns that have international impact, as well as an increased ability for international communication and collaboration. This has given rise to “Global Issues,” as a topic of discussion and study.
Understood this way, it is easy to see that anything could be considered a ‘global issue’ in the sense that many challenges faced by various communities have wider impact in our globalized world. But, there are several specific topics that are most often associated with ‘global issues,’ including overpopulation, the environment, immigration, war and conflict, trade, famine, the global economy, and others. These are problems and topics that have particularly global implications.
Youth all over the world are, to be sure, impacted by these concerns. In 2012, the US Department of State and the Foreign Press Center hosted a “Conversations with America” program on the global concerns of youth. Among the concerns discussed were global youth unemployment, the effect of armed conflict on youth (specifically the disproportionate impact of the global recession on young people). Besides outlining challenges, however, the participants discussed the exciting potential for youth to be dynamic solution providers. William Reese, the President and CEO of the International Youth Foundation, argued for the need to recognize that youth “are, in fact, an important constituency. And in fact, they’re one we ought to invest in because they will be – they – everyone says young people are leaders of tomorrow, and I’m sure these members of the Youth Councils will be. But they’re leaders of today, too.”
A number of systems and organizations have developed for responding to global problems and facilitating international involvement in a variety of concerns. Many international organizations often describe themselves in terms of their role in solving global concerns. The United Nations says they are “the foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries.” Many similar youth-specific organizations exist, such as the International Youth Foundation which describes itself as “passionate in our belief that educated, employed, and engaged young people possess the power to solve the world’s toughest problems.”
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
You have just selected and read an introduction to Global Issues. What global issue has affected you, what do you want to learn about it? What about the topic in general do you want to investigate?
In what ways should ‘global issues’ be addressed on local, national, and international levels?
How do we remain committed to helpful action in our local communities instead of becoming disillusioned by large global problems?
What global issues affect youth? How are youth in different parts of the world affected differently?
What is the potential for youth to be an important voice in addressing global issues?
We recognize great potentials of global collaboration and development. At the same time we are constantly confronted by global conflicts, atrocities, epidemics and natural disasters. Young and old long for global justice and peace.
The social and cultural problems that our communities face are not disconnected from those of the rest of the world.
We need to be aware of the impact that global issues have on youth in our own context/sphere of influence and around the world.