Campaign Urges Leaders to Address Climate Change, Poverty, Inequality

Campaign Urges Leaders to Address Climate Change, Poverty, Inequality

A coalition of more than a thousand organizations is calling on world leaders to take urgent action to address the effects of climate change, extreme poverty, and inequality.

The campaign, action/2015, is urging leaders to agree to a plan to address the interconnected issues during two United Nations summits later this year — the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN Climate talks in December. According to a study by University of Denver researchers, policy choices made this year and implemented subsequently could reduce the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day from more than a billion today to 360 million by the target date of 2030. If leaders fail to take action, however, the number of people living in extreme poverty could rise to 1.2 billion by 2030.

In her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in December, Malala Yousafzai announced the goals of the action/2015 campaign, which is supported by high-profile activists and philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Mo Ibrahim, Queen Rania of Jordan, Bono, and Ben Affleck. The coalition of environmental, human rights, and development organizations and faith networks aims to end poverty in all its forms; protect fundamental human rights and tackle inequality and discrimination around the globe; accelerate a transition to 100 percent renewable energy; and realize a world in which all citizens can participate and hold their leaders accountable.

To mark the campaign's launch, activities are being held in more than fifty countries, including several events spearheaded by fifteen-year-olds, a constituency that will be among the most affected by any agreements reached at the two summits. "If we get this wrong, we could see the number of people living in poverty increase for the first time in our generation," said Amitabh Behar, an Indian anti-poverty activist. "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."

"Almost a Billion Lives Hang in the Balance at Crucial Summits in New York & Paris." Action/2015 Press Release 01/15/2015.