One of the greatest hopes for securing long-lasting stability and shared prosperity around the world is to foster economic opportunity, education, access to land and shelter and good governance in communities that need it most. As leaders of two of the world’s largest international organizations, we understand the value, in economic and humanitarian terms, of doing good.
We live in a world where one billion people go hungry, 1.5 billion lack access to clean water and 1.6 billion lack adequate shelter. It’s going to take all of us to address those challenges and to provide humanitarian relief following disasters and civil conflict. What happens in one part of the world can have dramatic ripple effects on others. Reaching out to people in the poorest corners of the world is not just humanitarian. It’s strategic.
We know that when our country assists developing nations, we not only help improve the lives of their citizens, but we also ensure that American taxpayers continue to see a strong return on investments in international affairs.
No one knows that better than the people of Georgia. We have a proud tradition of being engaged in today’s world. Atlanta serves as headquarters to some of the largest global brands and organizations in the world with rapidly growing international operations in emerging markets. Today, trade supports more than 1.2 million jobs in Georgia and has generated almost $38 billion in goods and services for exports to foreign markets.
Above all, lending a helping hand is a moral issue. Helping those who are struggling simply to survive is the right thing to do. As developing countries consume more than half of our exports, from an economic standpoint, America cannot afford to ignore the needs of those in emerging markets around the world. To bring about lasting change and create economic opportunities for people in need, American businesses and non-governmental organizations mustwork with international agencies to help people build the foundation for a better life. Our organizations are committed to working alongside families to create healthy and thriving communities.
For nearly 40 years, Habitat for Humanity has been a global poverty-fighting organization, partnered with more than 4 million people worldwide to help them participate in their own housing solutions. Sometimes that is new construction; at other times it is a matter of making repairs and rehabbing a structure. For many in the world, accessing microfinance loans to make small improvements is the best housing solution. In six countries in Europe and central Asia, 91 percent of the families Habitat served last year were through microfinance.
In addition, Habitat for Humanity helps families left homeless by disasters, war and civil unrest. Habitat has supported more than 50,000 families in Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Cabaret with transitional and permanent housing, emergency shelter kits, home repairs, house damage assessments and training. Throughout the world, Habitat and its supporters advocate for policies and systems that advance access to adequate, affordable housing.
Similarly, with operations in more than 200 countries and territories, UPS has a long history of working with disaster relief organizations to deliver critical, life-saving aid. Through a range of innovative global programs, the UPS Foundation has developed a multi-sector commitment to urgent humanitarian relief, making a measurable difference in global communities.
Earlier this month, the UPS Foundation committed to provide transportation support to relief agencies battling the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This is just a part of the more than $100 million that UPS and its employees invest each year in worldwide charitable giving.
Whether it’s responding to emergencies, improving housing conditions, fighting world hunger or fostering economic development through secure land tenure, addressing humanitarian needs is a smart investment. We can be proud that American assistance over the years – from vaccines to food aid to shelter to clean water and sanitation programs – has saved millions of lives and improved living conditions for countless people.
Georgians are the most generous people in the world. Our effort in serving people in need is one of our most remarkable values. With the world growing more interconnected every day, this is not just good for our soul, but also for our economy.
David Abney is CEO of UPS; Jonathan Reckford is CEO of Habitat for Humanity and serves on the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Georgia Advisory Committee.