In a world of increased polarisation between cultures, anything that lowers barriers is important. I joined VSO as chief executive in March of this year and in that time I have seen enough to convince me that there has never been a more important time to encourage people to volunteer internationally.
With 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets set for the period 2016-2030, the 2030 Agenda could become a triumph for multilateralism, if it will be followed by concrete implementation. Great expectations reclaim great responsibilities. It is up to our political leaders to move towards that vision, through a spirit of global solidarity.
It's worth remembering that the vast majority of horror-show videos from Syria in the last four years have shown atrocities coming from the government side. It seems we need a jolt to remind us of this. A "killer stat" (literally) like Ghadbian's. A sort of lightbulb moment. We need to shine a light on Syria.
Mrs Jeyakumari and her daughter were well known activists who had been among the crowds which mobbed British prime minister David Cameron when he visited the former war zone in Jaffna in November last year. Three months later Mrs Jeyakumari sent me a video address in which she warned that she was being followed and harassed as a result of her campaign.
Sunday saw the largest mobilisation of climate activists and the general public calling for urgent action on climate change in history. The numbers were truly astounding, with over 2,000 events across the globe. More than 40,000 people took part in London and 100,000 in New York, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Scotland's majority voted no to becoming a country independent of the UK, yet 45% of people voted yes. With nearly half of the 85% wanting to separate, there is a nevertheless a public mandate for political change. A global referendum on climate change, whether yes or no, could change the landscape of negotiations before climate physics forces politicians to act.
Over the past four weeks the world has watched a humanitarian tragedy unfold in Gaza. For UN staff like me it has been particularly tough. Nine of our schools have been attacked, 11 of my colleagues have been killed. They include Ahmed Mohamed Mohamed Ahmed, a school principal, Inas Shaban Derbas, a 30 year-old teacher and the youngest, Abdallah Naser Khalil Fahajan, who at 21 was a school attendant. UN chief, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called the most recent attack on Sunday, which took place next to a boys' prep school in Rafah and led to nine deaths including that of a colleague: "a moral outrage and a criminal act."
Ending extreme poverty or getting an agreement to reduce climate change means creating complex trade-offs between the interests of countries, companies and citizens and civil society. It involves detailed forecasts, legal texts and new ideas that will galvanise negotiators to agreement. It means putting the UN back in a position of international leadership.