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Activists challenge world leaders to tackle converging crises at upcoming global summits

Washington DC – In the face of an unchecked pandemic, an uneven global recovery and a new food and energy crisis, world leaders need to step up and act at high level meetings taking place this week in the United States and Europe.

“The West’s response to the war in Ukraine shows that governments can work together and act decisively in the face of traditional security challenges, but we’ve yet to see that same urgency and collaboration applied to modern global threats like the pandemic, climate change or commodity price shocks,” said ONE Campaign CEO Gayle Smith.

The ONE Campaign is calling on leaders meeting this week at a Global Summit on the global pandemic response and officials gathering in Germany for a meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers to take swift action, including by agreeing on a concrete plan to end the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic pain it is still inflicting on low-income countries. “The pandemic has taken the lives of 15 million people, triggered the first increase in extreme poverty in 25 years and pushed over 20 countries to the brink of debt crises,” said Smith, adding that world leaders have the power to reverse these trends, if they choose to use it by adopting and acting on a plan to defeat the virus.

On Thursday 12th May, the US, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Belize will co-host a summit on the global COVID 19 response, while G7 Foreign Ministers will gather in Germany. These meetings come in the wake of new data issued by the WHO showing that the global death toll from the pandemic is now over 15 million. They are also taking place in the midst of a new food and energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has already seen the price of food and fertilizer double in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Gayle Smith, CEO of The ONE Campaign, said: “Leaders must agree to pursue a coherent strategy to end the pandemic instead of a fragmented approach that will extend the lifespan of this crisis. They must also move swiftly to contain the damage inflicted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the dramatic spike in world hunger that is on the horizon. Half measures will not suffice – in the face of unprecedented crises, the world needs bold action and decisive leadership.”

This warning comes as the latest data gathered by ONE shows the full scale of the converging crises facing the world in 2022. In addition to the continued threat from COVID, almost 900 million people are without enough food, 55 million more since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while the economic aftershocks of the pandemic and war in Ukraine are set to cost the global economy trillions – with two-thirds of the world’s countries seeing their economies contract and at least 23 countries in Africa in danger of defaulting on their debts.

The G7 Foreign Ministers meeting at Weißenhäuser Strand in Germany marks the start of a series of high-level ministerial meetings ahead of the Leaders’ Summit in June. ONE is calling on the group to accelerate efforts to tackle these crises – fully funding the fight against COVID, rebuilding the global economy, responding to the climate crisis, and taking steps to ensure the world is better prepared to react to future health emergencies. The G7 must also tackle the urgent food security issues exacerbated by Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine by fully funding humanitarian appeals and rapidly scaling up economic support to vulnerable countries.

Gayle Smith added: “We need our leaders to rethink how they approach these global threats. It is absolutely right that they stand firm in the face of armed aggression, but that same unity of purpose is needed to tackle a global pandemic that is still upending the lives and livelihoods of millions of people and threatening all of us with the risk of new variants. 

“With the virus still raging and devastating food and energy shocks now threatening the lives of millions more people around the world, they must act now. Time is not on our side, but if leaders lead this week, we can forestall an unprecedented crisis.”

Ahead of the G7 meetings, ONE is releasing new analysis highlighting the lack of progress since the last G7 leader’s summit, hosted by the UK in June 2021, and setting out the steps that wealthy nations need to take to tackle the converging crises facing the world in 2022. 

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Notes to Editors