New research warns global leaders poverty could increase for first time in a generation

  • Almost a billion lives hang in the balance at crucial summits in New York & Paris
  • Famous names back one of the biggest campaigns ever launched
  • New figures show poverty could increase for the first time in a generation

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 virtual 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 Peace Prize Laureate and Malala Fund co-founder, 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.

Alongside Malala, dozens of high profile activists from Queen Rania Al Abdullah 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.

Michael Elliott, President and CEO of The ONE Campaign, wrote today in TIME:

The new goals aim to tackle the unfinished business of our age: to virtually eliminate extreme poverty within the next 15 years, bring succor to those who still go to sleep hungry each night and carry the benefits of modern medicine to those who are still denied them.

In their ambition, they amount to perhaps the most significant set of international agreements since the period at the end of World War II that saw the birth of the United Nations, the chartering of the Bretton Woods institutions and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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 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 Nigeria, 15 year olds will present their hopes for the future to Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a live concert;
  • In the UK, some of Britain’s leading youth activists will meet Prime Minister David Cameron and Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, to urge them to seize the opportunities of 2015.
  • In Costa Rica, young people will take to their bicycles to raise the profile of the campaign in a cycle rally which will deliver the message of the campaign to leaders and the public.
  • In India, young people are meeting their leaders in 15 states and over 150 districts to deliver their messages of hope for 2015.
  • In Bolivia, three coordinated rallies in Laz Paz will bring together younger and older people, each one representing one of the core issues of the campaign – climate change, inequality and poverty.
  • In New York, the Secretary- General of the United Nations Ban Ki- moon will meet a group of 15 year olds to discuss why we need global action in 2015.
  • In Norway, a delegation of 15 year old campaigners from across the country will meet with Prime Minister Erna Solberg to challenge her to play her part in the summits and secure a safer future for people and planet in 2015;

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.


Notes for Editors

  • The ‘almost 1 billion lives’ figure is calculated from best and worst scenarios based on different actions that could be taken affecting inequality, climate change, growth, aid and social investment. These variables are computed by the International Futures model developed at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver.
  • Under the best case scenario the number of people living in poverty could be reduced to 360m (4%) by 2030. In the worst case scenario the number of people living in poverty could increase to 1.2 billion, a difference of 886million.

Additional examples of national activities:

  •  Around the world people will take to the streets in rallies and marches to demand action – including Liberia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Indonesia, Uganda, Belgium, El Salvador, Costa Rica and many more
  • Bangladesh: A rally of over 1000 bicyclists will carry messages of the campaign to the Bangladesh Parliament before young people form a human chain around the building to make their demand for action in 2015;
  • Lebanon: A human chain of a ‘15’ will be created in downtown Beirut.
  • South Africa: In Soweto, 15 year olds will gather to urge their leaders to take action. In live broadcasts with well-known celebrities they will speak about their hopes for the future;

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