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15 world-changing things that could happen in 2015

Every year is really important when it comes to the effort to lift over a billion people out of extreme poverty, but 2015 is eeeeven more important than normal. Why? Because this year contains an unusually high number of key dates, milestones, and important decisions to be made. Here's a handpicked selection of the the cool things that could happen this year!

1. Creating the Sustainable Development Goals

Malala, once again, is right. 2015 is the year where world leaders will be coming together to decide a new framework for humanity which could end extreme poverty, dramatically reduce inequality, and ensure we live in a world where everyone’s fundamental rights are met. 
This framework and new set of goals are known as The Sustainable Development Goals - and the’re going to be announced in September 2015. This is big - hold onto your hats.  

2. Our best hope to tackle worldwide climate change

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As if the announcement in September isn’t enough, in December 2015, the UN is hosting another summit to set new, decisive climate action targets. If we’re ambitious enough, an accelerated transition towards renewable energy so that a safe climate and sustainable economy - with all its benefits for people and planet - is possible.
If you don’t believe us, perhaps you will believe the lovely Leonardo DiCaprio who spoke at the UN last September. He said “the time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet is now. You can make history or be vilified by it”

3. Launch of an Ebola vaccine

A volunteer receives a trial of an Ebola vaccine in Mali. Image credit: Fatoumata Diabaté / The Art Of Saving A Life
In light of the deadly outbreak that hit West Africa in 2014, an Ebola vaccine is at the top of the to-do list for the world’s pharmaceutical companies this year. Vaccine trials are underway, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has already announced it will support large-scale vaccination efforts as soon as a vaccine is approved for use. 
You don’t need to be a vaccine expert to understand that if a vaccine is approved, it has the potential to save thousands of lives and prevent an outbreak like this occurring again. Pretty world-changing, right?! 

4. A chance to ensure more female peacekeepers

Image credit: Stuart Ramson / Insider Images / UN Foundation
Dr. Hawa Abdi, an incredible Somalian woman who started a refugee camp and medical clinic that now serves over 90,000 people, once said “women can build stability. We can make peace”. And it’s true - female peacekeepers are powerful. Studies have shown that female peacekeepers help reduce conflict and confrontation, whilst also inspiring women and girls to speak-up for their rights.
In the year 2000, the UN security council made a resolution to include women in all peace and security discussions. However, 15 years later progress is patchy, and female peacekeepers, like these pictured in Liberia, are rare. The 15th anniversary could provide a key turning point for the international community to make good on this promise. 

5. Passing of 0.7% international development bill in UK

A bill that could enshrine the UK’s aid commitment into law has made it through to the final stages in the House of Lords, meaning it’s incredibly likely to be passed in early 2015. Eradicating poverty is not going to happen overnight, which is why we need international aid to fill the gap until the right systems are in place. As it stands, British aid saves a life every 2 minutes, and the UK could be the first G7 country to legislate this commitment into law. Go team GB!  

6. Decisive action to keep weapons out of the wrong hands

Image credit: Control Arms Coalition (via Facebook)
Whilst we were eating our mince pies and sipping mulled wine, something pretty important happened on Christmas Eve 2014 - an international Arms Trade Treaty came into force. Sounds dull? It’s really not. 
Basically, the treaty agrees that no state shall transfer arms (anything from small arms to warships) if it knows those weapons will be used to commit “genocide, crimes against humanity ... attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians ... or other war crimes”. The people selling the arms effectively become responsible for their end use. 
More than 60 countries have signed up to the treaty, and this year will really put it to the test. 

7. Six million lives could be saved over the next 5 years through access to vaccines

Archana watches as her four-year-old son, Aush, receives a polio vaccine on a train in Delhi. Image credit: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance via Flickr. 
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership focused on saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. They’ve set out a new plan which could save up to six million more lives and immunise more than 300 million children against deadly diseases by 2020. Woohoo! On the 27th of January 2015, donors will replenish this global fund. We have to keep our global campaigning efforts up to ensure that this incredibly cost-effective mechanism to save lives can continue. 

8. The world will come together to demand action!

Image credit: Action/2015 / World Vision
Inspired by the unique opportunity that 2015 brings, Global Citizen has joined a movement called Action/2015 - a growing citizen’s movement of hundreds of organisations around the world coming together to demand truly ambitious agreements on poverty, inequality and climate change in 2015.
From Kenya to Malaysia, Japan to Brussels, people from all walks of life will unite under the umbrella of Action/2015, to demand that our governments are ambitious enough to end the injustice of poverty within our generation. 

9. A polio-free Nigeria, and therefore Africa!

Extensive vaccination programmes have led to the near-eradication of polio. 
This is a HUGE deal. Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that mainly affects children under 5 years of age. It can leave children paralysed, or even result in death. Not pleasant, right?
Thanks to incredible international efforts, polio cases have decreased by 99% worldwide since 1988. In 2014, only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria reported new cases. But not a single case has been seen in Nigeria since 24th July 2014. The country, and therefore the whole African continent, is on the brink of eradicating the disease entirely. In order to be officially declared ‘polio-free’, Nigeria must go 3 years without any new cases. However, there is real hope that this could be the beginning of the end. 
“We can see light at the end of the tunnel,” says Tunji Funsho, chairman of the Rotary PolioPlus Committee in Nigeria. “All the hard work that we’ve been doing is seeming to pay off now.”

10. Africa could be the happiest continent in the world

Image credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino
At the beginning of January, a study found that 70% of people around the world report that they are very happy with their lives - a 10% jump up from last year, when people were only just kinda happy.
Africa is seemingly the happiest region at the moment, with 83% of people polled reporting that they were content with their lives. People all around the world, however, remain convinced that tomorrow will be a better day. It will though, right?

11.Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa

Image credit: Pixabay 
It sounds heavy reading, and it kinda is. In July, world leaders, finance ministers and NGOs will come together in Ethiopia to work towards fairer financial systems for all. Issues such as tax, debt and trade systems are on the agenda, and the event will be a big step in bringing developing countries into the conversation surrounding global financial models. In the words of Jessie J, “it’s all about the money”!

12. Big elections in Africa

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20 countries across Africa will be holding elections in 2015, which is a big step to a healthy democracy. As Penelope Starr at UN Dispatch puts it, “in 2015, we will be watching these elections closely – particularly in countries where autocrats have been in power for much too long –  and looking for increased freedom and political space for candidates, activists and voters to make their voices heard, in open, transparent and inclusive elections.”

13. Cutting extreme poverty in HALF!

Image credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park
We know it doesn’t seem that way sometimes, but we have actually made incredible progress in ending extreme poverty. In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 22% by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million. Yep - read that sentence again - that’s 700 MILLION lives.  
This means that the first Millenium Development Goal - to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty - was met not just by 2015, but well in advance. Now, we just have to finish the job, and 2030 is our goal. 

14. We could see more girls in school than ever before

A young girl does her schoolwork in Karachi, Pakistan. Image credit: UN Photo / John Isaac
90% of children in developing regions are now enrolled in primary school, and we’re getting incredibly close to ensuring this is equally divided between girls and boys. 
Thanks to the work of governments, civil society and international agencies, we’re breaking down the barriers that stop young girls gaining an education. If we keep this up, 2015 will be the year we see more girls than ever before gaining access to education. 

15. “2015 must be the year the world wakes up and delivers a safer, more just future for children and young people.” - Malala Yousafzai

Image credit: Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images
Our girl Malala! She accepted her Nobel Peace Prize last year with a kick-ass challenge to the world. 2015 could be a pivotal year, both for people and planet. Malala reminds us why we can’t let this opportunity pass us by.  For the 1.2 billion people who still live in extreme poverty, we are waking up. Will you join us? 
Caroline Dollman and Zoe Kelland

Here at Global Citizen, we'll be working hard to make Action/2015 a powerful voice for change this year. If you're not yet a Global Citizen, now's a tremendous time to get on board!