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Talking about a revolution: global civil society aims to save the planet

This news post is almost 8 years old

​World's biggest civil society coalition says decisions made at two conferences this year will be crucial to the future of humankind

The fightback for the future of the planet begins this year – and will be spearheaded by the world's biggest ever civil society movement.

A massive, worldwide coalition has been formed to press for immediate steps to eradicate poverty and stop man-made climate change.

And the stakes couldn't be higher because almost a billion lives hang in the balance, say the organisations.

2015 could be a turning point – as two conferences will take place which have the potential to shape the future of humanity.

In the run up, more than 1000 groups throughout the globe have come together to form Action/2015 to put pressure on world leaders.

Action/2015 is headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and is one of the biggest campaigns ever to launch, combining environmental, human rights, development organisations and faith networks.

From household names like Amnesty Internationaland 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.

A turning point: the economics of human survival

Newcalculations released by Action/2015 shows that, even usingrelatively conservative scenarios, the world governments have the power to reduce the number of people living inextreme poverty – on less than 82p a day –dramatically from over a billion to 360 million by 2030.

Basedon work by the University of Denver, in the year 2030 about four percent of the global population would live in extreme poverty (comparedto 17% today) if critical policy choices on inequality, povertyinvestment and climate change are made this year and implementedthereafter.

Estimatesof other researchers, looking at a longer list of variables, showthat the eradication of extreme poverty is achievable for the firsttime in history – a key objective of the campaign.

However,if leaders fail to deliver and build on the growing momentum forambitious deals at the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Developmentin September and theUN climatetalks in Paris in December, and scale back their efforts, the numberof people living in extreme poverty could actually increase to 1.2billion by 2030.

This increase would be the first in a generation and almost a billion higher (886 million) than if resolute action is taken. Under this scenario one in three of the world’s population would live under $2 a day.

Alongside Malala, dozens of high profile activists including Bono, Ben Affleck, Bill and Melinda Gates, Hugh Jackman and Annie Lennox have backed the coalition of more than a thousand organisations in more than 120 countries.

The campaign is calling on world leaders to agree plans to eradicate poverty, prevent dangerous climate change and tackle inequality at two crucial summits later this year – the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN Climate talks in Paris in December (see panel above).

Malala, 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."

Ben Jackson, chief executive of Bond, the membership body for UK charities working in international development, 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.

“The UK has the potential to play a critical galvanising role on these issues but we’re worried with a UK election in the middle of the year they might take their eye off the ball.

“We want all party leaders to commit to keeping these issues at the fore – and making time to set out their agenda before during and after the campaign.

“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. The UK’s voice can’t be absent.”

The prize is the planet

Action/2015is calling on the public to join the campaign's call to ensure world leaders commit to a better world. Throughout the year, 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.

Many of action/2015's activities are being spearheaded by 15-year-olds – a constituency who willbe among the most affected by the agreements made by world leaders this year.

Inthe UK,where more than 40 international charities are taking part, twoof Britain’s leading youth activists Bhavi Elangeswaran and KatieKnight travelled to Downing Street to meet Prime Minister DavidCameron and demand he stands up and raises his ambitions to changethe future for people and planet.

Bhavisaid:“My family is from Sri Lanka, one of the countries hit hardest bythe Boxing Day tsunami, 10 years ago. By 2030 I will be an adult, andmay have children of my own. Whether in Sri-Lanka, the UK orelsewhere, I want them to live in a world where there are fewerextreme weather events.

"Poor people are hit hardest by climatechange. So I want my children to live in a world where there isless poverty. I told the Prime Minister that 2015 is a chance to makethat happen. My generation might not yet be the ones making thedecisions but we can make David Cameron and other party leadersunderstand that the world is watching them.”

HeatherCameron, aged 15 and from East Lothian, is a Scottish campaignerfor Action/2015. She said:“Iam excited and honoured to be one of the 15 year olds chosen to takepart in Action/2015 because it gives me an opportunity to add thevoice of our generation to the global action this year.

"TheSustainable Development Goals decided on later this year will shapethe world that, in 15 years, will be the responsibility of ourgeneration, today's young people. This makes it crucial that we areheard this year and now.”

Acrossthe globe other activities include:

InBolivia,three coordinated rallies in Laz Paz will bring together younger andolder people, each one representing one of the core issues of thecampaign – climate change, inequality and poverty.

InCostaRica,young people will take to their bicycles to raise the profile of thecampaign in a cycle rally which will deliver the message of thecampaign to leaders and the public.

InIndia,young people are meeting their leaders in 15 states and over 150districts to deliver their messages of hope for 2015.

InNew York,the secretary-general of the United Nations Ban Ki- moon will meet agroup of 15 year olds to discuss why we need global action in 2015.

InNigeria,15 year olds will present their hopes for the future to finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a live concert.

InNorway,adelegation of 15-year-old campaigners from across the country willmeet with Prime Minister Erna Solberg to challenge her to play herpart in the summits and secure a safer future for people and planetin 2015.

InTanzania,15 year olds will meet vice president Mohamed Gharib Bilal to discusstheir aspirations for the future and the action they want frompolitical leaders in 2015.

InUgandayoungpeople will challenge the speaker of Parliament to listen to theirdemands when they hand over a petition signed by over 10,000 youngpeople.



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