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Global campaigns make 2015 a significant year for sustainability

On Thursday 16 January 2015, we saw the launch of action/2015 – a historic campaign and global movement calling for the eradication of extreme poverty and inequalities worldwide within a generation – held all over the world.

Malala Yousafzai. Photo credit: www.stephaniedaily.com

Malala Yousafzai. Photo credit: www.stephaniedaily.com

Around the world people took to the streets in rallies and marches to demand action – including Liberia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Indonesia, Uganda, Belgium, El Salvador, Costa Rica and many more.

According to a 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 taken at two crucial summits in New York and Paris later this year, with billions more continuing to face a life of hardship.

That’s the warning by more than a thousand organisations around the world that launched the new campaign, calling on local and world leaders to take urgent action to halt man-made climate change, eradicate poverty and address inequality.

A new 2015 agreement on climate change, that will harness action by all nations, took a further important step forward in Lima, Peru last December after two weeks of negotiations by over 190 countries.

Nations concluded by elaborating the elements of the new agreement, to be agreed upon in Paris this year, while also agreeing the ground rules on how all countries can submit contributions to the new agreement during the first quarter of 2015.

But the new calculation released by the action/2015coalition shows that, even using relatively conservative scenarios,  the number of people living in extreme poverty – on less than $1.25 a day – could be reduced dramatically from over a billion to 360 million by 2030. Based on work by the University of Denver, in the year 2030, about 4% of the global population would live in extreme poverty, (compared to 17% today) if critical policy choices on inequality, poverty investment and climate change are made this year and implemented thereafter.  Estimates of other researchers, looking at a longer list of variables, show that the eradication of extreme poverty is achievable for the first time in history – a key objective of the campaign.

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However, if leaders fail to deliver and build on the growing momentum for ambitious deals at the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN Climate talks in Paris in December, and scale back their efforts, the number of people living in extreme poverty could actually increase to 1.2 billion by 2030. This increase would be the first in a generation (since 1993) and almost a billion higher (886 million) than if resolute action is taken. Under this scenario 1 in 3 of the world’s population would live under $2 a day.

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Prize winner, who put her life on the line for the right to education, said: “2015 must be the year the world wakes up and delivers a safer, more just future for children and young people. We all must play our part in ensuring this is the case. Do not let this opportunity go to waste.”

Alongside Malala, dozens of high profile activists from Queen Rania of Jordan and Bono to Ben Affleck, Bill and Melinda Gates and Mo Ibrahim have backed the coalition of over a thousand organisations in more than 120 countries around the world.

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In Nigeria, popular musician D’Banj, leading actress Genevive Nnaji, and the first Nigerian Idol winner Timi Dakolo, also joined their voices to the campaign, which is calling on world leaders to agree plans to eradicate poverty; prevent dangerous climate change and tackle inequality at these summits.

Action/2015 announced by Malala when she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize – is one of the biggest campaigns ever to launch – combining environmental, human rights, development organisations and faith networks. From household names like Amnesty International, Save the Children and WaterAid to grassroots NGOs working with local communities, the movement aims to make sure the agreements of 2015 are shaped by the people.

Speaking for action/2015, Amitabh Behar, Indian anti-poverty activist, said: “If we get this wrong, we could see the number of people living in poverty increase for the first time in our generation. But if we get it right – tackle poverty, inequality and climate change – we could eradicate extreme poverty within a generation. With two summits of this importance within just months of each other, 2015 could be one of the most important years for our planet since the end of the Second World War, but only if we rise to the occasion.”

At the launch, activities took place in more than 50 countries all around the world from Lebanon and Liberia to Nigeria and Norway to South Africa and Sri Lanka. Many of these were spearheaded by 15 year olds – a constituency who will be among the most affected by the agreements.

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While the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon met a group of 15-year-olds in New York to discuss the need for global action in 2015, a group of 15-year-olds presented their hopes for the future to Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at a live concert featuring popular musician, D’Banj.

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. I and thousands like me are demanding they make the right choices, because our future is at stake. We ask that they make choices which are dictated by the needs of future generations and not choices that are dictated by short-term politics.”

Action/2015 is calling on the public to join them in their calls to ensure world leaders commit to a better world. Throughout 2015, the campaign will provide ways for everyone everywhere to get involved in influencing the outcomes of these global debates that could achieve: an end to poverty in all its forms; the meeting of fundamental rights, tackling inequality and discrimination; an accelerated transition to 100% renewable energy; and, a world where everyone can participate and hold their leaders accountable.

Published courtesy: Lead International

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