Youth Ambassadors call on world leaders to fight for their future

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

ONE youth ambassadors outside the European Parliament. [ONE campaign]

There are 1.8 billion people aged 15-24 in the world. That’s the the biggest proportion of the global population made up by young people in history, write ONE youth campaigners.

ONE a campaigning and advocacy organisation of more than 7 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. From 21 May to 2 June, some 250 ‘Youth Ambassadors’ from 50 countries will attend the margins of the OECD conference in Paris, asking rich nations to fulfil their commitment to end extreme poverty by 2030.

That’s 1.8 billion people with 1.8 billion visions for what the world should look like. As Youth Ambassadors for anti-poverty group ONE we are a fraction of the world’s youth, but together with our counterparts from across the globe we are united in our goal to work for a better world. By 2030 we want to see an end to extreme poverty and preventable disease and will continue to combine our voices to make sure this vision becomes a reality. We hold the greatest stake in the future of this planet and we must be heard by global leaders on how to shape it.  

That’s why we’re in Paris for the ONE Summit: 250 Youth Ambassadors representing over 50 nationalities coming together to urge our leaders to join us in the fight to end extreme poverty. Our Summit will take place on the margins of the OECD Forum. While over 40 of the richest countries will gather at the OECD to discuss major global issues, ONE’s unique summit will play host to our own discussions on development, where we’ll campaign, learn and take part in a giant stunt to make sure everyone on the streets of Paris knows what we’re fighting for.

Over the three days we’ll also be meeting with highly-influential political leaders, representatives of governments that committed last year to achieve the 17 Global Goals that include ending poverty, hunger and gender inequality. People often argue that youth today don’t care, but we are here to prove them wrong. We will be holding our leaders to account by making sure they fulfil their promises to protect the most vulnerable in developing countries.

One way we’re going to make sure these Global Goals are put into action is by advocating for women and girls. It’s hard to believe that still nowhere do women have as many economic, political and social opportunities as men. In order to achieve a better world we must break down the barriers that stop women from achieving their potential.

ONE’s Poverty Is Sexist annual reports have shown how gender inequality and poverty go hand in hand. While women and girls are hit hardest by extreme poverty, investing in their futures will not only end poverty faster, but end the cycle once and for all. As Youth Ambassadors we stand with women and girls and if we’re going to end the injustice of poverty, we mustn’t leave half the population behind.

The first real test of the Global Goals will be the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, happening on the16th of September in Canada. AIDS-related illnesses are now the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 44. The Global Fund is one of the best investments to end this – 60 percent of its investments specifically support women and girls. We urge all world leaders to step up their commitments, strengthen their support and make sure the target replenishment of $13 billion (11.6billion euros) is met in order to save 8 million more lives over the next three years.  

The ONE Summit is a crucial and exciting opportunity for us to come together from all our different walks of life and fulfil our potentials as change makers. In 2005 Nelson Mandela called on us to be the “great generation” to end extreme poverty, and we plan to do just that. But we can’t do it alone. We need world leaders and civil society to join us to get the job done. More than anything it is our duty to act for the youth population that will follow us, as by 2050 one out of every three young people will be from Africa. We must make sure that they have a life better, one without poverty, disease, hunger, and gender inequality. This will be our legacy.


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