The World Humanitarian Summit took place earlier this week, bringing together around 5,200 participants including heads of state and government, crisis affected communities, NGOs, businesses and UN agencies.
As an official sponsor of the summit, Empathy Action was called upon to say a few words about its goals in supporting the work of the summit. Empathy Action Director, Matt Gurney, laid out the charity’s aims in this pledge:
The World Humanitarian Summit has been described as a “once in a generation opportunity to set in motion an ambitious and far-reaching agenda”. Empathy Action is privileged and excited to be taking part as participants and sponsors. Yet we know that at the end of these three days we will all disperse and in order to sustain momentum there needs to be a movement for change that follows in the footsteps of the 19th century anti-slavery movement in Britain and the 20th century civil rights movement in the United States. But on a global scale.
There are many factors that combine to drive such movements, but a crucial element is always a widespread acknowledgement of the injustice being perpetrated on the victims. This acknowledgement is rarely brought about merely by an acceptance of facts and figures, but by deep-seated compassion generated by empathy. By mentally identifying oneself with and so, fully comprehending a person.
Empathy Action believes that people’s hearts need to be changed in order to bring lasting improvement in the lives of the victims of this humanitarian crisis. To move people beyond the head knowledge imparted by education and the media and enable them to truly empathise with the plight of those facing deprivation, poverty and oppression, far removed from the communities they belong to, often on the other side of the globe.
There is an urgent need to allow the next generation to experience, even fleetingly, what it is like to be a victim of social and economic injustice. Through our work, Empathy Action gives participants the opportunity, albeit symbolically, to step into the shoes of those who battle global deprivation, poverty and oppression. To feel the loss of hope and limitation of choices, the discrimination, the judgement and hatred of others, the desperation. To understand that they are not statistics, labels or problems, but people.
Our ambition is that by taking these steps of understanding and empathy with others, we will help swell the movement for change. Building a community of people with compassion and purpose who will sustain pressure on the Governments of the World to fulfill the pledges they have made here in Istanbul.
Empathy Action pledges to commit all our endeavours to build in the hearts and minds of those we work with greater compassion for those affected by war, poverty, injustice, and the impact of the changing climate. We pledge to steward people’s hearts and exercise our influence to transform our world, build up broken communities and share responsibility for humanity.
We believe that the actions that flow from this will help to bring about the movement for change that we long for and wish to be part of, and that is desperately needed to address the humanitarian crisis blighting our world.