This blog post was written and researched by World Affairs Council Intern, Katie Brown.
According to new research, almost a billion extra people face a life of extreme poverty if leaders duck key decisions on poverty, inequality and climate change due to be discussed at two summits in New York and Paris later this year, with billions more continuing to face a life of hardship. That’s why organizations of all shapes and sizes across the globe are launching a new campaign called action/2015 to galvanize local and world leaders towards action to halt man-made climate change, eradicate poverty and address inequality.
These new calculations released by action/2015 suggest that even in relatively conservative scenarios the number of people living in extreme poverty – on less than $1.25 a day – could be reduced from over a billion to 360 million by 2030. Estimates from other researchers show that the eradication of extreme poverty is achievable for the first time in history – a key objective of the campaign.
Conversely, if leaders fail to deliver and build on the growing momentum for ambitious change at the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN Climate talks in Paris in December, the number of people living in extreme poverty could actually increase to 1.2 billion by 2030. This would be the first increase in a generation (since 1993) and almost a billion higher (886 million) than if ambitious action is taken.
Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Prize winner who put her life on the line for the right to education said;
People globally want an end to injustice, poverty and illiteracy. Our world is interconnected and youth are ready and mobilised more than ever to see real change take place. Together, we are demanding our leaders take action in 2015 and we must all do our part. I will continue to work tirelessly to call on world leaders to seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality primary and secondary education for every child. That is my goal and I hope that my voice will be heard as it is the voice of millions of children who want to go to school.”
When accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala announced the action/2015 campaign, which has since been joined by the efforts of high profile activists such as Queen Rania of Jordan, Bill and Melinda Gates and Mo Ibrahim, in addition to thousands of organizations in more than 120 countries around the world. Through the efforts of this diverse group of actors, the campaign is calling on world leaders to decisively act to eradicate poverty, prevent dangerous climate change and tackle inequality while at these summits. From well-known INGOs like Save the Children and Amnesty International to grassroots organizations working in local communities, the movement aims to make sure the agreements of 2015 are shaped by the people.
action/2015 is calling on the public, particularly youth, to join them in their efforts to instigate change and impress upon world leaders the importance of the issues to be discussed at the summits. Over the course of 2015, the campaign will provide ways for everyone to get involved to make progress in completing the following goals:
- An end to poverty in all its forms;
- The meeting of fundamental rights, tackling inequality and discrimination;
- An accelerated transition to 100% of renewable energy;
- A world where everyone can participate and hold their leaders accountable.
At part of the launch, activities are taking place in more than 50 countries all around the world. Many of these are spearheaded by 15 year olds – a constituency who will be among the most affected by the agreements:
- In Costa Rica, young people will take to their bicycles to raise the profile of the campaign in a cycle rally which will deliver the message of the campaign to leaders and the public.
- In India, young people are meeting their leaders in 15 states and over 150 districts to deliver their messages of hope for 2015.
- In Nigeria, 15-year-olds will present their hopes for the future to Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a live concert;
- In Norway, a delegation of 15 year old campaigners from across the country will meet with
- Prime Minister Erna Solberg to challenge her to play her part in the summits and secure a safe future for people and planet in 2015;
- In Uganda young people will challenge the Speaker of Parliament to listen to their demands when they hand over a petition signed by over 10,000 young people;
- In the UK, some of Britain’s leading youth activists will meet Prime Minister David Cameron and Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, to urge them to seize the opportunities of 2015.
Pittsburgh will also be participating in the action/2015 launch on January 15th as area students add their voices to youth from around the globe in a call for action for some of the world’s most serious issues. Through a video conference involving Avonworth High School, Cornell School District, and Quaker Valley High School of Pittsburgh, Northwestern High School in Erie, Del Valle High School in Texas, Colegio Newland in Mexico, and Kherad School in Iran, students will discuss how world leaders should address the problems most important to them. They will hear from Michael Klosson, Vice President for Policy and Humanitarian Response for Save the Children, based in Washington, D.C. Students will also participate in the global digital rally by contributing to a “selfie” campaign in which they will share their dreams for the future. These students will join millions around the world in speaking up for a desire for change.
In addition, two students from Cornell High School have been selected to visit Washington, D.C. as part of the launch. Held in partnership among the ONE Campaign and Save the Children, the students will have the opportunity to meet with a high level representative at the White House to share the changes they would like to see in the next 15 years. They will also have the opportunity to tour the nation’s capital. The Cornell students will be joined by 15 year-olds from across the country.
Throughout the program, these students will be encouraged to voice their own hopes for change during the next fifteen years as they look towards a time when they will be the leaders responsible for these issues. Speaking about why she got involved in the campaign, Maryam, a Nigerian child rights activist, who will turn 15 this year said:
“By 2030, I will be an adult, and may have children of my own. My generation might not be the ones making decisions today, but we will be the ones to make sure that our leaders take full responsibility for the actions they take this year.
action/2015 will be a platform for young people just like Maryam and our Pittsburgh students, not only giving them a chance call for action now, but also making them actors for their own futures.