Events this year could shape our planet and the life chances of the people on it forever

Political leaders know what is needed to combat poverty and climate change

Click to follow

Sometimes years are different – they obtain a meaning all of their own. 1945 and the end of the Second World War, 1968 and the social revolution across Europe, 1989 and the end of the cold war as three examples. Though it’s only January 15th, my bet is that 2015 might just join that list.

The reason for thinking it might is a unique confluence of events at the end of the year. In September world leaders will meet in New York to agree a new set of goals (replacing the Millennium Development Goals) to eradicate poverty, protect the environment and combat inequality; and in December leaders will meet again in Paris to try and agree a new climate deal. Combined, these opportunities are the most important test for global decision making since the end of the Second World War. They will shape our planet and the life chances of the people on it forever.

That is why today in 125 countries around the world campaigners will launch action/2015, a new movement focussed on poverty, inequality and climate change. Backed by more than 1,000 organisations and big names from Desmond Tutu and Malala to Matt Damon the campaign will build a groundswell of public pressure for transformational agreements. What’s on the table could include an agreement to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and to end child deaths from preventable illnesses, another to move to 100 per cent clean energy and another to reduce inequality in every country. These are huge breakthroughs, but we also know that we won’t get them just by willing them.

Political leaders know what is needed to combat poverty and climate change –  they just need the political will to take on the vested interests. That’s where public pressure comes in. From civil rights to de-colonisation – it’s people’s movements who have made the difference. I remember my days in South Africa in the anti apartheid movement. I was inspired by how people power stood up to injustice. We saw that this week in Paris as we stood against terror.

So don’t wait for your grandchildren to ask you what you did in 2015, get involved, focus on the issues that matter most to you and let’s demand that 2015 goes down in history for all the right reasons.

Justin Forsyth is chief executive of Save the Children UK

Comments