Student, are you worried about global inequality and poverty? Do you think that states and organisations should accept their responsibility in this respect? Based on the results of recent surveys, you probably acknowledge this responsibility and consider it appropriate to act accordingly. According to a survey commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 68 per cent of Finns consider development cooperation to be very or fairly important.
Of course, the figure actually reflects the attitudes towards the activities of various organisations in the field of development cooperation. The result could be very different if the questions concerned the possibilities, or willingness of individuals to influence the challenges of the Global South. It is very easy to think that you can just let someone else do the job. And of course, for example we at SYL are working on this – even today, together with student representatives, we are running both a development cooperation project in Ethiopia, and a communication and global education project here in Finland. In doing so, we act in line with our values and policy paper, and continue our long traditions as well as contribute to fulfilling the student unions’ and universities’ statutory educational task. The feedback, actively collected from student unions this year, encourages us to continue with this work.
While policy makers carry the primary responsibility for generating sustainable and fair growth, you should bear in mind that individuals can make a difference. You have the opportunity to make a difference – and with this project, we want to support activities that comply with sustainable values.
Responsible consumption is very much in the public eye at present, predominantly from the environmental point of view. However, responsible consumption is partly based on its impacts on global inequality. For example, the production process and the distribution of income are taken into account in ethical choices. Consumer responsibility could be discussed here as well, as it is obvious that as matters stand, individuals cannot waive responsibility or unequivocally outsource it. In fact, I would like to reverse the whole idea. Consumption gives you the opportunity to make a difference as an individual in your daily life.
One’s role in society should not be underestimated either. It is possible for you to take a more active role in the matter and, for example, influence in order to raise awareness. You can support the projects of the relevant student unions or subject organisations and you can promote responsibility in the organisations you are involved in: at the university, in your hobbies and in your current or future worplace. The best way to make progress is to have individuals and organisations work towards the same goal.
How about if you don’t know how to be a more responsible consumer? Luckily, there is a wealth of information available, and concrete examples have also been highlighted in our project ‘Sustainability holds us up, uphold sustainability’. Read more about the project at syl.fi/en/uphold-sustainability/!