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 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 which are launching a new campaign called action/2015 calling on local and world leaders to take urgent action to halt man-made climate change, eradicate poverty and address inequality.
The new calculation released by the action/2015 coalition 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.
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 (886million) 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. The campaign 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 and Save the Children 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 part of the launch, activities are taking 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 are spearheaded by 15 year olds – a constituency who will be among the most affected by the agreements:
- In Nigeria, 15 year olds will present their hopes for the future to Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a live concert;
- In Tanzania, 15 year olds will meet Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal to discuss their aspirations for the future and the action they want from political leaders 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;
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;
∑ A world where everyone can participate and hold their leaders accountable.