Voices and ideas from the areas of food, land, travellers, domestic violence, poverty, asylum and debt are all vital to finding grains of truth that allow us to face up to our Hidden Civil War. To face difficult truths in troubled times, we require deep collaboration, reflection and above all, listening.
During a visit to a summer camp for children affected by the conflict in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, I met a boy close to the frontline who had made a drawing of a tree, on top of which he drew a house with a family. When asked why the house was in the tree top and wouldn't it fall down in the wind, the boy confidently assured me 'no', the house is strong and secure. I later found out that this boy's dog had been killed by a landmine.
For the first time in the 70-year history of the UN, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has brought together world leaders and the humanitarian community for the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, with the aim of making bold commitments to reduce the impact of the unprecedented wars and disasters we are seeing today.
There is much at stake in Europe just now. The external environment is characterised by economic slowdown, the pressure of conflict, the refugee crisis, and the need to move rapidly to act on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to climate. Urgent action is also needed to tackle the tax and transparency issues revealed by the Panama Papers. The threat of global disease epidemics is ever-present, with Ebola having been supplanted by the zika virus as the most urgent current threat. In all these arenas, the priority is coordinated action among groups of nations: another reason to put the global role of the EU high on the agenda.
In the early hours of Saturday 2 April, a military escalation erupted on the Nagorny Karabakh line of contact, on a scale not seen since 1994. While the breakfast news reported on Palmyra, on who is planning to restore which monuments, the disturbing news broke about this old, yet now new conflict, that overnight saw dozens of people killed.
It occurred to me that when he had got on the train, he instinctively gravitated closer towards me, another human being, to share his evening. We humans are social animals, and contact with others is very important to us. Having sat down opposite me, he ate his dinner and enjoyed his daughter's laughter in my company.
The international response to what took place and what continues to take place is both a travesty and injustice. Hundreds of thousands of Innocent men, women and children fled to neighbouring countries such as Chad and Cameroon but more than 600,000 people remain displaced inside the country with many trapped inside enclaves they cannot escape.
In October 2009, I set out on a rugby tour to France with thirty teenage boys. I had uncovered the sad story at our London club, Rosslyn Park, of a lost Great War memorial; a 1919 press clipping stated 72 had died, but no names. Some 109 names of men who lived, loved, played, fought and fell have now emerged from club records and lost memory.
With borders a constant flashpoint, International Alert undertook research on the needs of women cross-border traders in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The women identified the lack of storage for their fresh produce as a major problem. As a result, the World Bank is now building a cold storage there.
It is time for leaders to act now and meaningfully to reduce the extent and pace of climate change. Without urgent climate action wars, famines, floods, death and inequity are likely to result. We must remind them of education's critical role in opening up a myriad of human and environmental opportunities to thwart the devastating impacts of climate change.