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We all want to see the end of extreme poverty. But how do you tackle it? As our colleague (and resident nomad!) d’Arcy likes to say, you can tackle this massive issue the same way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
We’re thrilled to share the news that we’re one bite closer to ending extreme poverty! Last week the global community came together and pledged US$4 billion to completely wipe out polio – a disease that affects some of our world’s most vulnerable children, pulling them and their families deeper into poverty.
Our Global Campaign Manager, Michael, was lucky enough to attend the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi last week, and watched in astonishment as governments including Canada and the UK joined Bill Gates and other philanthropists in making substantial funding commitments for a new plan to wipe out all polio, everywhere, by 2018. While that’s exciting news in its own right, what made it even more special was the knowledge that our supporters (i.e. you) had played an incredibly important role in securing these commitments – particularly from the Canadian and British governments.
How we did it
At the Global Poverty Project, we know that, in democratic societies at least, governments represent their constituents and act according to their wishes. As Bono says, “we can’t blame the politicians because we have to give them permission to spend what is in the end our money.” So we work to increase the number and effectiveness of ordinary citizens taking action to influence key decision-makers to do more to end extreme poverty and diseases like polio.
So when we heard that the global partnership working to end polio had come up with a new plan to eradicate this disease within the next six years, we knew that we needed to mobilise large numbers of people in some of the world’s wealthiest countries – namely, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States – to convince their governments to help fund this new plan.
To do this, we took a four-pronged approach: media, events, public action and direct advocacy.
What better way to reach large numbers of people, including regular citizens and politicians, than to get the extraordinary story of polio eradication out in the media? We wrote op-eds, hosted newsworthy events (see below) and built relationships with key journalists, leading to more than 100 media clippings including coverage by the BBC, the Islam Channel, Embassy Magazine, the Independent on Sunday, the Sydney Morning Herald, Radio NZ National and the Diplomatic Courier. We worked in close collaboration with other organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UN Foundation and Rotary International to ensure a steady stream of “surround sound” around this issue, encouraging more people to join the campaign and encouraging governments to take this issue seriously.
Events kill many birds with one stone. They are an ideal platform for interacting with decision-makers and loyal supporters, while giving you a chance to secure media and public interest.
First we asked folks to sign the petition either on our website or through Global Citizen - and 40,000 people in 150 countries did!
This gave us a clear measure to demonstrate the breadth of public support for polio eradication; but we knew we also needed to show the depth. So we asked those who had signed the petition to take further actions, either to get their friends, family and followers to join the campaign or to demonstrate to world leaders the level of their support.
The response was incredible. Our supporters tweeted, posted on Facebook, wrote emails, penned letters, made phone calls and even met with their elected representatives to personally encourage them to take up the case. Together we helped build a global movement in support of eradicating this cruel virus.
We had a lot of meetings with government decision-makers. And almost every time we went, we took along the petition to demonstrate that there were 40,000 people behind us. Michael and Akram Azimi, the Young Australian of the Year and ambassador for this campaign, met with more than 25 members of parliament, including the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, in Australia alone.
We asked the government officials we met with to show their support for the campaign in concrete and tangible ways. Whether they were diplomats, bureaucrats, cabinet ministers or legislators, we asked them to express their support through tweeting, speaking in parliamentary debates, writing to their party leader and, ultimately, supporting an increase in funding from their respective governments.
Last week saw a historic moment – with more than 70% of the funding needed to end polio funded, up front, by the global community. But there’s still US$1.5 billion needed to completely wipe out this disease. We know that, without 100% in funding being fully committed, we are placing this unique opportunity at risk.
Funding shortfalls have plagued polio eradication efforts for too long, causing children to miss out on the vital protection of the polio vaccine and creating the ideal conditions for mass outbreaks. We have a narrow window of opportunity to wipe out this disease, right now, otherwise it will return with a vengeance, and paralyse more than 200,000 children a year.
At last week’s Global Vaccine Summit, Bill Gates was asked where he hoped the remaining funds would come from. He responded by singling out three countries in particular: Australia, Japan and the United States.
We don’t as yet have a presence in Japan, but we are determined to convince the Australian and American governments to pay for their fair share. So we need to keep up the momentum and continue to press the case in coming months. We mustn’t give up when we’re so close! In fact, if you have five minutes, why not show your continued support right now by taking the time to contact key decision-makers in the US and Australia.
This didn’t happen by magic. But nor is there a single explanation for it. To borrow from The Global Poverty Project language archive – there are 200 million reasons.
One of these is foreign aid. Aid is not perfect - no government spending or private investment ever is. But good aid, spent well, has made a difference.
Polio is one example. Without vaccination programs paid for by foreign aid, including money provided by the Australian Government, we would not be close to eradicating only the second disease in human history. 25 years ago there were 350,000 cases of polio; last year there were just 223.
But you do see long-time aid champions like Norway making the case for anti-poverty action on a range of issues.
So the choice for Australia and Australians is clear: do we want to champion aid as part of our efforts to help end extreme poverty? Or will it be death by a thousand cuts as we abandon the people who need our help the most?
My name is Sydney Pedersen and I am Utah’s Live Below the Line Ambassador for 2013.
I chose to be an Ambassador to support Happy Hearts Fund because I met supermodel Petra Nemcova and she inspired me to support her work. Happy Hearts is an organization that helps children who have survived natural disasters by building schools to provide them with a sustainable education and help them get their lives back to normal. I have traveled with my family to developing countries and have spent time working in schools. My experiences abroad changed my whole perspective and helped me to see how much these children loved & need an education. I chose to Live Below the Line so that I can give back. I am committed to live on just $1.50 a day in food for five days to raise money for Happy Hearts Fund. I want to get the word out and challenge as many of my fellow students in Utah as possible to join me and raise money for children who have lost everything.
I know it wont be easy but I am excited to make a change in the world, and I think if we work together we can make a big one! If just 50 students from 50 schools raise $50 each we could raise enough money to make a difference in thousands of lives and change entire communities around the world.
I would especially like to thank those who are supporting us. Pezauh Printing has been amazing and is printing up nearly a thousand posters for us at no charge! We also have had shirts donated by VOX Marketing Group. Other companies that have been especially helpful are Costa Vida, Halestorm Entertainment, Method Communications and of course Vivint, donated 3 trips to the top fundraising students in Utah to come with me to visit Happy Hearts Schools in Indonesia.
To find out how you can be involved go to https://www.livebelowtheline.com/us-hhf and join me by signing up to support Happy Hearts Fund this April 29th – May 3rd. Lets see how much change we can make with $1.50!
100 Metres. 9.58 seconds. How on earth would we know that Usain Bolt was the quickest man in the world if he didn't have a certain goal - a destination? We wouldn't. And he probably wouldn't have been able to run that fast. Achievement is often driven by ambition, by aspirations that can be measured - where at the end you can say: I've done that.
Well - the race is nearly run on the Millennium Development Goals. Set in 2000, their stated end is looming in 2015. Not all the goals and objectives have been achieved, but great progress has been made. Work to end extreme poverty will go on regardless of what we do. But the MDGs gave the international community - governments, NGOs, individuals, corporates - focus and an agenda, which helped us achieve massive gains in the search to extreme poverty.
So the question is - what next? The answer came from the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held last year in - wait for it - Rio. It announced that the world would work towards creating the snappily titled Sustainable Development Goals (you've got to love the UN marketing gurus!), which would set the post-2015 agenda until 2030. Massive efforts are underway, even this week with a meeting of governments and NGOs this week, to start defining these Goals to ensure that they are in place by January 2016.
They are being crafted in a world that is very different from the one in which the MDGs were born: the rise and reach of technology, systemic challenges that have become more entrenched, the ongoing impact of climate change, the multitude of actors that now play a more prominent role (the rise of China in Africa being one example).
These Goals will have a huge impact on what our world looks like in 15 years time. We have to get them right.
One voice is missing from the process: yours.
We want to know what you think to create a list of the top ten Sustainable Development Goals:
- what should the SDGs be?
- what factors do we have to consider as we start defining the SDGs?
We're using a revolutionary new crowd-sourced and crowd-curated collaboration tool for our entire network to develop the answer.
Logging in with your facebook or twitter, go to http://sdg.codigital.com and tell us what Goals we should set to change the world.
We need to win the next race to end extreme poverty, forever.
Live Below the Line is more than just a five-day challenge; it’s a perspective building exercise. The images of extreme poverty are burned into our minds. It always seems to be something that is happening to someone in some place far away. Live Below the Line offers a glimpse into what 1.4 billion people struggle with on a daily basis. I am a graduate student at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs focusing on international development and humanitarian assistance. I will Live Below the Line to gain a more nuanced understanding of the challenges that marginalized populations may face in the global arena.
I recently returned from a field intensive in India, where I worked alongside an NGO leading a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking. Meeting and engaging with the women who are at risk or affected by trafficking allowed me to see the reach of extreme poverty. A woman can become more susceptible to sex trafficking if she needs money for survival and has multiple mouths to feed. These atrocities are part of the much larger problem that extreme poverty can pervade every realm of a society.
Since this will be my first time taking the challenge, I wasn’t sure how I could survive off a $1.50 a day. Growing up in New York, I was lucky enough to have access to education, food and clean water. I believe that through the Live Below the Line challenge, I will be able to develop a connection to extreme poverty. When I heard about the Buddy Matching program, it sounded like a great way to collaborate with someone else who is living below the line. I was paired with Amanda from Brooklyn. Amanda and I coordinate over Skype to plan meals and give each other feedback. The Buddy Matching program has been a great resource for the challenge and helps cultivate new friendships. Developing new relationships has allowed me to see that everyday people are the lifeblood of global movements. Through collective empowerment, the Live Below the Line challengeshows that idealism can turn into action.
Sign up here to Live Below the Line April 29 – May 3, 2013. Register to get a buddy and inspire each other through the Live Below the Line week.If you have questions about the Buddy Matching program please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.