Malala, Tutu back global anti-poverty push in 'crucial year'

Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:22am EST
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By Katie Nguyen

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Almost 1 billion more people will face a life of extreme poverty unless world leaders make progress on poverty and climate change at two crucial summits this year, according to a campaign backed by public figures such as Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.

The "action/2015" campaign was launched on Thursday by 1,000 groups - representing interests ranging from human rights and the environment to development and health - to put pressure on governments ahead of a U.N. summit in September.

The New York summit is expected to see world leaders agree on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years to replace and build on the 15-year-old Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire this year.

Three months after the U.N. summit, policymakers will go to Paris to thrash out a global climate change pact.

An open letter signed by Yousafzai and a host of celebrities, entrepreneurs and activists including actor Matt Damon, singer Shakira, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, warned governments that there were millions of voices they could not afford to ignore.

"They are voices of all ages from every corner of the planet – the voice of a young girl currently deprived of education ... a pregnant mother deprived of healthcare ... young people deprived of decent work ... a family from a minority group fearful of discrimination by corrupt officials ... farmers forced to migrate to cities as climate refugees," the letter said.

"Their voices will roar ever louder against the inequality and injustice that keep people poor," it added.

The number of people living in extreme poverty - less than $1.25 a day - could be 886 million higher if leaders fail to deliver this year compared with a scenario of "resolute action", action/2015 said, citing work done by the University of Denver.   Continued...

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, speaks at Birmingham library in Birmingham, central England October 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Darren Staples