A number of stars are backing Action2015, a huge campaign launched to make 2015 a huge breakthrough moment for people and planet.

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 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.

A number of stars – including Hugh Jackman, Annie Lennox, Angelique Kidjo, Aamir Khan, Jeffrey Sachs, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Matt Damon, Mia Farrow, Richard Branson, Shakira, Ted Turner and Sting – have put their names to an open letter on behalf of the campaign.

“There are moments in history that become turning points,” reads the letter. "In our view, 2015 will be such a moment. It is the most important year for global decision-making since the start of the new millennium.

“We believe it’s just possible that we could end 2015 with a new global compact – an agreed pathway to a better, safer future for people and planet that will inspire all the citizens of the world. We can choose the path of sustainable development. Or we might not – and regret it for generations to come. Which side of history will you be on?

“There are millions of voices you can’t afford to ignore – the voices of the people you represent. They are voices of all ages from every corner of the planet – the voice of a young girl currently deprived an education… of a pregnant mother deprived healthcare… of young people deprived decent work… of a family from a minority group fearful of discrimination from corrupt officials… of farmers forced to migrate to cities as climate refugees… and of billions of other people. Their voices will roar ever louder against the inequality and injustice that keep people poor. They – and all who stand with them – are calling on you to come up with a grand new global contract for our one human family – and then deliver on it together. The great news is that in 2015 you have a historic chance to do just that.

“Two critical United Nations summits will take place this year. The first in September, where the world must agree new goals to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle inequality and ensure a more sustainable planet. The second is the climate summit in December where we must ensure the wellbeing of people today doesn’t come at the expense of our children’s futures.

“Together with critical discussions on financing, these opportunities are the biggest of our lifetime. We know from past efforts against AIDS, malaria, preventable diseases and saving the ozone layer that when we come together, so much can be achieved. Yet, with just months to go before these summits, few leaders are playing the leadership roles we need. We see climate progress but not yet of the scale that is needed, and a set of goals that are hugely ambitious but will be meaningless without brave financing and implementation agreements led from the very top.

“If this does not change, we fear you and your fellow leaders could be sleep-walking the world towards one of the greatest failures of recent history. It’s not too late to rise to the occasion. We’re asking you to help lead that change.”

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.

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.

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.action2015.org.

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