Dunkin' Donuts Fights Global PovertyDie-hard Dunkin’ Donuts fans might love the company for its coffee and assortment of breakfast treats, but this New England favorite is proving there is even more to love with some of its philanthropic choices regarding its products. From making ethical decisions when it comes to sourcing its espresso beans to switching to sustainable alternatives for its cups, Dunkin’ is combating global poverty and benefiting the world at large. Here is more information about how Dunkin’ Donuts fights global poverty.

Dunkin’ Donuts Fights Global Poverty with Fair Trade Espresso

Dunkin’ Donuts was the first national coffee company to offer fair trade certified espresso beverages in 2004. This supports the economic and environmental well being of coffee-farming communities around the world. Fair trade certification ensures that coffee farmers are paid livable wages in an industry that often exploits its workers. Many coffee farmers face extreme poverty, job insecurity, unregulated working conditions and labor rights abuses, just to name some hardships.

Dunkin’ Donuts is combating global poverty by choosing to use fair trade espresso beans, which is making a difference in the lives of many families around the world. Andrés Bermeo Calderon, a father, husband and member of a Fair Trade Certified™ coffee cooperative in Chirinos, Peru spoke about how being a fair trade member has changed his life. “For me, the most important part of being a cooperative member is that now I can provide a better life for my family,” he said. He spoke of the hardships he faced before being a member. “Before, our sales were really bad and we had no control over the price. Sometimes we received only enough for the day to buy food and nothing else. Now, we have a better economy and we are able to ask for loans,” he said.

Making Sustainable Changes

Dunkin’ Donuts made the complete switch from polystyrene foam cups to a double-walled paper cup alternative in 2019. While this might seem like a small change, this switch is expected to eliminate “approximately one billion foam cups annually from the waste stream.”

Polystyrene is not only a known hazardous substance and pollutant that can potentially contaminate food or drink contained in it but it also poses an extreme threat to poverty-stricken communities around the world due to the harmful chemicals it produces as it breaks down in landfills. According to the EPA, styrene—what’s left when foam cups break down—leaches from landfills into drinking water. It also creates a huge problem with pollution in the oceans.

It can cause liver, kidney or circulatory system problems. This threatens those living in extreme poverty disproportionately because they are most likely to live near landfills and factories that produce polystyrene cups. Dunkin’ Donuts’ decision to eliminate these foam cups will greatly reduce styrene contamination in impoverished nations. This is just another way Dunkin’ Donuts fights global poverty.

Proving to be more than just a widely successful coffee company with a great cup of coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts is fighting global poverty by making ethical and sustainable changes concerning its products. International companies have the ability to make decisions that have far-reaching impacts. Dunkin’ Donuts is showing that it is using that power for positive change that will have a lasting impact.

– Hannah White
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Fighting Global PovertyPeople helping people. Country helping country. Giving back to the world is not a strange concept and is a welcomed idea in most societies. A popular form of global help is foreign aid. The umbrella term commonly refers to monetary assistance provided by outlying or foreign governments. The funds are generally distributed through humanitarian organizations, non-profit groups or directly from a foreign government. As such, the aid is given to citizens in an abundance of forms, such as money, food or shelter. While some can afford to provide more than others on a purely numeric comparison, the amounts are measured or valued differently depending on the country’s economic standing. This list consists of five countries fighting global poverty who outshine the rest.

Top Five Countries Fighting Global Poverty

  1. Norway begins the list as it provides the largest amount of foreign aid in comparison to its GDP. The government put 1.11 percent of its GDP towards global humanitarian aid, spending NOK 455 million as of 2018. The country utilizes organizations such as the U.N.’s CERF (Central Emergency Response Fund), the Red Crescent Movement and the Red Cross. Recently, Norway channeled much of their funds into CERF in order to assist Venezuela in its growing refugee crisis. Norway’s contributions towards these programs effectively fight against global poverty and prove the nation should be in the top five, as its generosity in comparison to its national budget is the highest in the world.
  2. Luxembourg also contributes a significant portion of their GDP towards humanitarian and foreign affairs. Approximately 1 percent of their national budget, or about USD 413 million, is used for aid. Some of Luxembourg’s projects include poverty reduction through community development in Laos, education improvement in Burkina Faso and health care in Nicaragua. These countries receive specific help from various agencies and organizations like LuxDev and the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. These groups and projects, though just a few select examples, show how much effort Luxemborg puts in fighting poverty.
  3. Sweden comes forward as another example of a smaller country with a smaller budget who still makes a grand impact in the world. As about 1.04 percent of its GDP, or about USD 5.8 billion, is used for humanitarian and foreign aid, Sweden holds a top ranking. While the money touches on a broad range of topics, from civil rights to education, specific Swedish projects focus on poverty issues. For instance, Sweden recently provided aid to Somalia for drought relief through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Somalia Humanitarian Fund. Sweden makes a mark on the world by not only tackling larger, conceptual issues, but by also responding quickly to disasters and world events. Such assistance highlights the country’s proficiency in the fight against global poverty.
  4. The United States is a leader in fighting global poverty as it contributes the most money towards humanitarian and foreign aid. Within the past few years alone, the U.S. contributed USD 30 billion towards various forms of international aid. The nation utilizes several different federal agencies, non-profit groups and other organizations to distribute aid. The U.S. commonly works with popular organizations such as UNICEF or the Red Cross. A prime example of the U.S. effect on the world is with the sheer number of countries it provides for, as it touches nearly 40 different nations, including Pakistan and Mexico.
  5. Germany also provides a significant amount of aid with nearly USD 20 billion contributed towards humanitarian projects in recent years. This accounts for nearly 0.70 percent of the national budget. Popular organizations and agencies include the World Food Program, which Germany utilized to provide relief to Africa. In addition to such organizations, Germany is known to donate large amounts of money to other countries, a notable example being Syria in recent years due to their ongoing crisis. Germany’s monetary generosity also makes it the second-largest donor in the world to foreign aid, falling in just behind the U.S.

Whether it’s a natural disaster or political turmoil, when a country is in need, surrounding neighbors will often step up to help.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

Fight Global Poverty ODA Spending
David Cameron will be remembered by history as the Prime Minister who called the “Brexit” referendum, but during his last days in office, Cameron sought to stress a different achievement: lifting Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending to 0.7 percent of national income.

The target was met during a time of economic austerity and in spite of intense criticism from members of Cameron’s own political party. This resolve should inspire other wealthy countries to do their part in fighting global poverty.

Looking at the data, several facts jump out. The UK has a clear lead among G7 countries and is the only one to meet the UN’s recommended 0.7 percent target. The United States, despite being both the wealthiest country in the G7 on a per capita basis and the largest economy in the world, comes in last in ODA spending relative to national income.

If America spent the average 0.35 percent of other G7 countries, it would spend an additional $33 billion a year. Reaching the level of the UK would mean over $90 billion more.

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have given away over $54 billion total as part of their philanthropic efforts. The Giving Pledge, Gates’ and Buffet’s initiative to encourage the wealthy to give away their fortunes, has so far attracted total pledges of around $360 billion from 139 of the wealthiest individuals in the world.

The yearly contribution America could give by rising to the UK’s level of ODA spending is larger than the total lifetime donations of two of the richest men in world and a third of the total amount pledged by 139 billionaires. This is a powerful reminder that the political process is a central part of the struggle against poverty.

The first of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” This ambitious goal calls for a concerted effort on the part of wealthier countries. Since the UN adopted the resolution in 1970 which stated ODA spending in developed countries should be at least 0.7 percent of their gross national product, only a handful of countries have risen to that level.

Aid skeptics often point out that waste, fraud and corruption mean that much of the aid meant for poor beneficiaries ends up lining the pockets of kleptocrats. This problem is exaggerated, but it should serve as a call to action for reforming aid distribution practices, rather than a reason to cut off support for those who need it most

Jonathan Hall-Eastman

Photo: Flickr

Para-soccer Brings Hope to Nigerian Polio Survivors
Nigeria has recently reached the milestone of being polio-free for a year, however, the disease has left thousands of survivors handicapped. Although there is not a definite number on polio survivors in Nigeria, the Nigerian Association of Polio Survivors has almost a million members.

In a culture with little community support for polio survivors, para-soccer has brought joy and purpose into the lives of Nigerian polio survivors.

Musbahu Lawan Didi, a polio survivor, originally created para-soccer in 1988. It was called ground handball at the time. After the Nigeria Association for the Disabled (N.S.A.S) heard about the game, it was promoted and expanded internationally.

The Women Federation of World Peace (WFWP) brought attention to the sport as well when the organization helped set up matches for the teams.

The first lady of Adamawa State, Dr. Halima Nyako, also helped in spreading the name of para-soccer. She sponsored the compilation of the rules and regulations into a booklet.

Slowly but surely the sport began to build. The Federal Ministry of Sports and Social Development officially approved the Para-soccer Federation of Nigeria to be a national sport federation in 2006.

Now the sport has international leagues in Ghana, Niger and Cameroon as well as national leagues within Nigeria. There are more than 24 state associations involved in para-soccer.

Through para-soccer, survivors who would otherwise be begging on the streets are able to make some money to help support their families. “Para-soccer has been an effective alternative to polio victims begging for alms to survive,” Didi said in a speech during the National Para-Soccer Championship in 2013.

Para-soccer is also being used as a tool to spread awareness about polio and the importance of vaccinations. Every year on World Polio Day there is a national para-soccer championship.

Iona Brannon

Sources: Al Jazeera, Bloomberg Business, NBF, Parasoccer Nigeria, Reuters, Time
Photo: Google Images

Global_Citizen_FestivalOn Sept. 26, the fourth annual Global Citizen Festival will take place — a unique concert that uses music to raise poverty awareness. Celebrity activists and humanitarian leaders have banded together to organize this year’s festival. They hope to channel hype and excitement over the concert into anti-poverty action.

The Global Citizen Festival began as an anti-poverty platform in 2012. Each year, the concert acts as a hub for campaigns that work towards global development and poverty eradication. This year, the festival will be timed to coincide with the launch of the United Nations’ new Global Goals, designed to end poverty by 2030.

Global Poverty Project, an organization that aims to end extreme poverty by increasing the number of people taking anti-poverty action, hosts the yearly concert. This year, the concert will take place on the Great Lawn at Central Park. Coldplay’s Chris Martin has played a leading role in creating the concert’s lineup.

For the second year in a row, MSNBC will be serving as a media partner of the Global Citizen Festival. The network will air a live simulcast of the full concert on their website. Youtube is also a worldwide digital streaming partner for the Festival, and will feature a special live stream of the concert which can be found here.

Last year, celebrity activists including Hugh Jackman, Adrian Grenier, and Jessica Alba, and world leaders like United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the musical acts. The all-star lineup included Beyonce, Jay Z, Sting, Tiesto, No Doubt, Carrie Underwood, and more.

As 2015 is an especially important year for the global fight against poverty, this year’s festival is sure to not disappoint. This September at the UN General Assembly in New York, world leaders will announce a new set of global goals designed to fight inequality, protect our planet, and most importantly to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Organizers of the Global Citizen Festival hope that this year’s concert will act as a launching pad for essential policy and financial commitments needed to achieve these goals. Early initiation of such commitments is indeed a critical step.

For those who seek immediate anti-poverty action, Global Citizen is offering a chance to win free tickets to the concert on their website, By following the outlined poverty-fighting steps on the organization’s website, people can maximize their chances of earning a free concert ticket!

Keeping in line with the anti-poverty spirit, H&M is also offering points towards winning tickets to the festival for those who donate gently used clothes at any store location. Clothing donations will start being accepted on Sept. 17 and will continue up until the concert.

Stephen Colbert, Salma Hayek, Deborra-Lee & Hugh Jackman, Kerry Washington, and Olivia Wilde will be hosting the event. Perhaps even more exciting is this year’s lineup, which includes—among others—Pearl Jam, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, and of course, Coldplay.

With the perfect location, rock star hosts and performers and an incredibly noble cause, this year’s Global Citizen Festival is sure to live up to its hype. By pairing live entertainment with global development goals, the Global Poverty Project has certainly raised the standard of strategic anti-poverty innovation.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: MSNBC, Audio Ink Radio, Global Citizen
Photo: Google Images

Technology has the power to save millions, yet it also poses serious risks. In order to discuss and mitigate that risk, mobile tech giant Nokia and technology magazine WIRED have teamed up to launch the #MakeTechHuman campaign: a proposed debate on the future of technology and its potential for aiding the human race. “The #MakeTechHuman debate that Nokia has enabled is all about ensuring that technology serves humanity, in the right way,” says Nokia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Barry French. At the core of the debate is the issue of artificial intelligence (AI).

An open letter signed by innovators such as Bill Gates, Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking is part of the joint endeavor, and it lays out specific ways in which AI can be used in the fight against disease and global poverty. The letter states that AI “has the potential to bring unprecedented benefits to humanity.” Experts agree that AI can, quite possibly in the near future, do great things for society. One example that the letter cites is the eradication of global hunger through optimized farming practices. AI also has the potential to revolutionize the medical field by providing diagnoses and treatment far quicker than a human can.

It is ideal for technology to serve all, however, technology comes at a price. The purpose of #makeithuman is to ensure that the technology designed to save the suffering does not turn on them. To encourage a discussion on possible solutions and ways to mitigate risk, Stephen Hawking has joined #makeithuman with his first Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session. The renowned physicist is encouraging all to join the conversation about AI and the countless and revolutionary methods of aid it can provide.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Nokia, Wired, Reddit, Future of Life, PR Newswire
Photo: Flickr

Indonesia's Fight Against Stunted GrowthThe Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent, innovative foreign aid agency that is actively fighting global poverty. One of its projects, the Indonesia Compact, seeks to better the lives of those living below the poverty line in Indonesia, in particular the lives of the children.

Over the past decade, Indonesia’s economy has grown steadily and over 50 percent of the population is now living above the poverty line. However, the wealth gap has further widened. With most of the population living in rural areas and relying on agriculture as a main source of income, it is hard for Indonesians below the poverty line to have access to nutritious food and clean water. This has caused problems such as stunted growth in children.

According to the Millennium Challenge Corporation, “a lack in critical vitamins and minerals during early childhood puts children at higher risk for chronic disease [and] delayed cognitive development” which causes a reduction in academic success and future earnings. Because of the lack of vitamins and minerals, about one-third of all Indonesian children under the age of 5 experience stunted growth—that’s seven million infants and children.

The Indonesia Compact is a five-year, $600 million agreement. The goal is to increase household income in the project areas by increasing productivity, reducing energy costs and increasing provisions of goods and services.

Part of the Compact is the $135 million Community-Based Health and Nutrition to Reduce Stunting Project. This effort is two-sided: raise awareness about feeding practices and supply access to proper nutrition and health care services.

Through this project, the people of Indonesia are being educated on how the lack of essential nutrients, such as vitamin A, iron and zinc, can impact health and affect growth. The government of Indonesia is helping by training local governments on health and sanitation services as well as nutrition, in order to have a highly aware population.

The theory is that a healthier young generation will bring economic growth to the country. The next generation will be healthy and knowledgeable, which leads to a stronger working-class and eventually an improved economy. The Indonesia Compact still has a long way to go before any change can be seen, but Indonesia is headed in the right direction.

– Hannah Resnick

Sources: Millenium Challenge Corporation, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Flickr

It’s not often that one hears a Tea Party conservative publicly supporting the use of the United States’ Federal Budget on foreign development aid. That’s what makes Rep. Tom Emmer’s, R-M.N., newfound support for the program both promising and surprising.

During a live online Q & A session held on May 12, Rep. Tom Emmer – whose conservative voting record includes challenges to Minnesota’s minimum wage and efforts to nullify the Affordable Care Act – described the ways in which his recent visit with recipients of U.S. foreign aid in Eldoret, Kenya influenced his perspective on the program.

“I have made the statement in the past that a dollar that we are spending for instance in Africa, in Kenya, is a dollar that we could probably be using at home to build a road or a bridge,” Emmer said. “Well, it’s not that simple.”

During his time in Eldoret, Emmer met with two dairy farmers who, with funding from USAID, improved their operation to such an extent that their increased income allowed them to accumulate enough money to send their three children to boarding school. “That bodes well for the future,” Emmer said, “and I guess I look at it this way: a dollar spent on that is a dollar that we won’t have to spend on additional bombs and bullets and God-forbid boots on the ground in the future.”

This sentiment is consistent with an argument commonly made by proponents of foreign development aid: investing in a greater quality of life for the world’s poor prevents them from looking for it in the form of violent extremist groups like ISIS or al-Shabaab.

The congressman also noted the potential benefits global poverty reduction holds for the U.S. economy. “Well, we need to have trading partners, both here within our boundaries, our borders, but [also] outside of our borders, because remember, 90% of the world’s future customers actually live outside of the United States,” Emmer stated. “We need to make sure that we’re constantly growing those markets so that we can realize a return of value, a valuable return on [our] products.”

Emmer’s change of heart is particularly encouraging given the staunch opposition to foreign aid among many leading Republicans, including presidential aspirant Rand Paul, who in 2012 argued the United States ought to eliminate foreign aid entirely. Indeed, this new stance is consistent with his recent deviation from the standard voting line of far right Republicans, a move that has earned him criticism from a number of his constituents.

That Rep. Emmer’s newfound attitude toward foreign aid so radically differs from that of more moderate Republicans like Paul shows that foreign aid doesn’t need to be an issue that is determined simply – and superficially – by party affiliation. A U.S. presence in impoverished nations, defined by effective economic assistance, creates opportunities for American companies abroad and increases the security of the United States by improving the lives of those whom extremist groups strive to recruit. These are outcomes that should appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike.

– Zach VeShancey

Sources: Think Progress, Business Week Think Progress Think Progress MPR News
Photo: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Measuring happiness around the world can reveal what people want, need and where to reach them. With this in mind “the evidence here will be useful to all countries as they pursue the new Sustainable Development Goals,” according to Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Focusing on the well-being of people in developing countries reveals more than how much food and water they have – it determines their outlook on life and more abstract psychological needs.

Although poor countries are not the happiest, it is not money that puts countries like Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark at the top of the happiness list. Factors that determine happiness include generosity, freedom to make life choices and freedom from corruption. The importance of transparency is important in sub-Saharan countries, where “$52 billion was lost in illicit financial flows,” according to ONE.

The Gross National Happiness Index (GNH Index) has developed their measurement techniques, looking at nine domains. “The nine domains are: psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards,” according to the GNH Index. Looking at these different aspects reveal details about the country and the values of the people living in it.

The United Nations World Happiness Report studies similar domains with a stronger focus on how the report can help develop their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The first report was issued in 2012 and has progressed “to review the state of happiness in the world today and show how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness,” according to the World Happiness Report.

The SDG are one of the many ways the U.N. plans to use the World Happiness Report to track the progress of developing nations. They have proclaimed “20 March the International Day of Happiness recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world.” Reports on happiness are a great way to utilize data to help the world out of poverty and into happiness.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: PsyBlog, GNH Index World Happiness Report 2015 United Nations Transparency ONE
Photo: Huffington Post

With the sustainable development goals working toward ending world poverty by 2030, the most important aspect of sustainability is literacy. Educating women and children who are otherwise denied the opportunity to read and write will improve heath, decrease poverty and build economies in developing nations.

Although programs focus to educate children, it is vital for adults to become literate in order for the SDG to succeed. More than half of the adults in Ethiopa, Haiti, Niger and 11 other countries are illiterate. “Literacy can help societies heal, advance political processes and contribute to the common good,” says U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

The U.N. has understood the importance literacy has on sustainable development by implementing International Literacy Day. “UNESCO’s policy today is to support the promotion of literacy and literate environments as an integral part of lifelong learning and to keep literacy high on national and international agenda,” according to UNESCO. On Sept. 8, the U.N. will bring awareness to why literacy is so important to ending global poverty. This year the theme will be Literacy for All, which will focus on literacy as a human right.

USAID also recognizes literacy as a driving force in the goal to end world poverty. Rwanda has been one of the many countries USAID has assisted in improving education for women and children. They have held competitions to inspire children in literacy and have provided teachers with materials and proper training.

Both USAID and the U.N. have awarded countries to help better improve literacy as a whole. “For decades, USAID has been a global leader in improving reading for developing countries,” says USAID. Their work in Rwanda has increased the access in education and improved the attendance of children in primary school.

Every year UNESCO awards $20,000 to programs aiming to improve literacy in rural areas. The five awards are presented on International Literacy Day and are funded by Korea and China. Funding schools in developing countries will help lift people out of poverty quickly and sustainably. It is important to maintain a focus on literacy in order to achieve the sustainable development goals.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: UNESCO, United Nations USAID
Photo: Rosenblum TV