To see clearly is a difficult task. At night, or when there is too much light, when tired, or when too many people are around, where the rush of events is clouding our ability to discern what is essential. As journalists, we should ask ourselves constantly: do we see well?

Take the non-profit industry. The second edition of our Top 100 NGOs ranking is stronger, and we enjoy not only the fantastic outreach from the inaugural list, but the fact that NGOs themselves pushed us to look at their sector in an improved way. This year, we have focused on the three criteria we have used consistently since we began our media journey three years ago: innovation, impact and sustainability. Whether looking for projects with the potential to address critical global issues over the next five years – to create a successful GLOBAL+5 festival – tracing the development of stories on our website, or finding relevant features to share with our readers in more than 30 countries, these three criteria have been omnipresent.

For anyone concerned with the future, innovation, impact and sustainability provide a good compass. As we maintain our unwavering focus on the corporate world, governments, academia, social business, NGOs and simple citizens, we will continue to keep these criteria in mind to better understand global politics. This year, our new leader in the Top 100 NGOs ranking is Bangladeshi development giant BRAC. More than the sum of its – substantial – parts, the organization has transcended its origins in the microfinance revolution of the 1970s to represent a model for how NGOs can continue to evolve and innovate while remaining true to their underlying social mission.

Speaking of wide-open eyes, historians seem to be back in business. If we believe that economists, occupying the forefront of the media scene for a decade now, deserve a say when it comes to our collective future, then why should historians, scientists, geographers, architects, philosophers, writers, poets, doctors and so many others not be granted a similar chance? There is a sense of fatigue with the dominance of the economic perspective in public life. Voices like those of David Armitage, at Harvard, or Mark Mazower at Columbia, dare to challenge mainstream views – the 25-word sound bites framing the world through numbers and fear. Economists are rarely joyful – their basic rhetoric is imbued with the detritus of doomed plans.

Let’s change our perspective and open ourselves to the possibility of identifying new patterns and paths to govern the planet by looking back to the lessons of the past. Plutarch and his twin-portraits of leaders would certainly have liked the idea. In part, the innovation we require to advance is rooted right there. Still with wide-open eyes, read Thomas Davies on the long and turbulent history of NGOs, and Jonathan Katz’s eyewitness account of how the world came to save Haiti and left a disaster.

Bearing in mind that a few great debates began or escalated in the past year, in the fields of health, Internet governance, climate change and energy policy, global politics is heading step by step toward a worldwide call to citizens. How do we make sure that the voice of the people is heard amidst ever more complex disputes? The Global Journal works on a simple premise – in an honest and independent fashion – that in-depth journalism remains a great asset when it comes to understanding the world we live in.

Post-script: to celebrate 2013, our fourth year in publishing, I hope you will enjoy the changes to our design thanks to Dimitri. I’m not sure where he sits at this very moment – whether in Australia, Mexico, the United States or elsewhere – he is a globe trotter and a fantastic global designer. Bénédicte, our French designer, is now putting her hand to our second publication, Global Geneva. Feel free to read it whenever you visit us.

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