Public sector

This past year, we saw a massive increase in the number of people who were in need of humanitarian assistance. According to the latest United Nations Global Humanitarian Overview, that number will rise to nearly 300 million people worldwide in 2024. The reasons are too many to list, but include climate change, health crises and escalating conflict. 

To help business leaders better understand today’s humanitarian landscape and the role they have to play in supporting humanitarian response, our Social Good team curated a list of five must-read books. They provide practical advice on advancing human rights and managing humanitarian burnout, as well as deeply researched and personal accounts of how key crises impact individuals and communities. 

The topics may be difficult, but we expect these books will move, motivate and inspire you. Let us know what you think.

Campaigning for Justice: Human Rights Advocacy in Practice by Jo Becker

In this book, heralded by some as a master class in how to advance human rights, Children’s Rights Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch Jo Becker draws on her 20-plus years of experience and interviews with seasoned human rights advocates to provide practical how-to advice for fellow practitioners. 

Readers will learn about how and why some of the biggest human rights campaigns were successful, including strategies employed, lessons learned and a firsthand look at advocates’ personal experiences and challenges. Learn more

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence

What’s it like to live in a refugee camp? This book seeks to shed light on the refugee experience by documenting the stories of those who lived in the Kenyan city of Dadaab. 

Via firsthand accounts—including a boy from Mogadishu who escaped a terrorist organization and a young girl able to receive an education onsite—readers come to understand what brought these refugees to Dadaab, the reality of their circumstances and the limitations of humanitarian aid. Learn more

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power

This book from Samantha Power, former human rights adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama and the youngest U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, goes beyond political memoir. Drawing on her experience as an immigrant, war correspondent and member of the presidential Cabinet, Power makes a compelling case for how each of us can advance human rights and dignity. 

Power provides a glimpse into how foreign policies are created, how to navigate politics at the highest levels, and, in the words of Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, “…essential lessons to anyone aspiring to follow in [Power’s] footsteps in shaping the world for the better.“ Learn more

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell

Jeff Goodell was inspired to write this book after witnessing the catastrophic and long-term effects of Hurricane Sandy on New York City. In it, he travels across twelve countries—from the U.S. and the Netherlands to Nigeria and the Marshall Islands—weaving in firsthand accounts to paint a vivid picture of the far-reaching impact of rising seas on health and homeland security, social inequalities and cultural preservation.  

By the year 2100, hundreds of millions of people will become climate refugees due to rising seas. The Water Will Come examines the realities of and responses to rising sea levels through the lenses of science, economics, policy and design—and makes a clear case for faster and more inclusive action. Learn more

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Thích Nhất Hạnh

An important read for anyone working to address the issues of climate change, social inequality and racial injustice, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet compiles the teachings of Zen Master and peace activist, Thích Nhất Hạnh (Thay), providing practical advice on how to use mindfulness to nourish ourselves and sustain the difficult work ahead.

Filled with powerful examples of engaged action, Buddhist parables and daily meditations, Thay contextualizes Buddhist teachings for the modern day. In his own words, “We have to wake up together. And if we wake up together, then we have a chance.” Learn more.

January 22, 2024

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