Following Boris Johnson’s decision to step down at the start of July 2022, the Conservative party have been on the hunt for a new party leader and, due to current rules, this person will automatically become the UK’s next Prime Minister. As of the announcement on Monday, that new Prime Minister is Liz Truss — and she has a long to-do list. 

From net zero pledges to international aid, the UK has a long list of broken promises. Despite making strong climate commitments, the UK is falling behind on its promises and approving new fossil fuel projects. Cuts to the aid budget have resulted in millions around the world facing increased poverty, losing out on education, health care, and more, leaving an increasingly unstable global landscape. 

But Liz Truss, as the UK's next leader, has the chance now to change direction.

This year, Global Citizen's ambitious global End Extreme Poverty NOW campaign is focusing on empowering adolescent girls and women, tackling climate change, addressing systemic barriers that keep people in poverty, and lifting up and protecting the world's activists and advocates. So we’re calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to act NOW. 

Why? Because the world needs it. We saw how the world came together during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it highlighted the health inequalities when it came to vaccine rollouts being grossly unequal. Meanwhile the climate crisis is affecting those who have contributed the least to global emissions, as seen in the recent flash floods in Pakistan or the food insecurity due to droughts in Ethiopia. What’s more, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.

So we asked Global Citizens across the UK what they think the next prime minister must focus on. We received over 2,000 responses calling on the next leader to take action against climate change, for gender equality, to restore international aid, and so much more. Here are just a few of the inspiring things you told us.

1. Take Meaningful Climate Action

“Fossil fuels and taking a proactive approach to ending poverty across the world. We are no longer an island, we share our concerns across the globe.” — Linda 

“It seems that the new Prime Minister needs to reverse recent betrayals of agreements made locally, nationally, and globally. [They will need to] immediately address carbon emissions, climate reparations, and global citizens need high grade education access, equal financial and life opportunities to encourage the drive for lowering carbon emissions drastically by 2030 and 2050. Our children are the adults of tomorrow and do not deserve to inherit [this].” — Natalie

Why is this important?

A lot of us are worried about climate change — 75% of adults in Britain according to a 2021 census report.

And, to be honest, there’s reason to be. The Met Office has found that future summers in England are likely to be longer and drier with a greater risk of drought, as a consequence of increasing impact of climate change. 

While the UK may have experienced its fair share of record-breaking heat waves this summer, it pales in comparison to the climate collapse countries such as Pakistan are facing.

Extreme weather patterns, natural disasters, and food and water shortages are not only a consequence of climate change but also exacerbate poverty. In fact, it is estimated that by 2030, climate change could push more than 120 million more people into poverty.

Yet, despite all of this, the UK government is failing to enact the policies needed to reach the country’s net zero target, according to a report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC). 

2. Continue the Fight For Gender Equality

“Women's rights! Please protect what we have fought for, do not backtrack on years of progress.” — Olivia

Why is this important?

The UK ranked 23rd on the global gender gap index in 2021, trailing behind other European countries such as France, Germany, and Ireland. In case you’re wondering why, get a load of this: in the UK women are less likely to be employed full-time, just a third of members of parliament are women, and only 35% of board members for the largest publicly listed companies are women.

Worse still, a survey from UN Women UK found that almost all young women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment, and most don’t believe it gets dealt with.

3. Restore International Aid

“The UK has broken promises on climate and international aid. The next leader has the chance to change direction.” — Quynh Mi

“I implore you to, at the very least, restore [international] aid to 0.7% of GDP, and also to ensure that it is better managed than it has been previously. It must be targeted at helping the very poorest — not filling the pockets of consultants; supporting "British" interests; nor transferred to other worthy causes (such as supporting Ukrainians or biodiversity) which must be funded separately.” — Grace

Why is this important?

The UK international aid budget was once one of the most powerful foreign policy tools in the fight to end extreme poverty.

But in 2020, that budget was cut to devastating effect, and the reverberations continue to be felt by the most vulnerable around the world, particularly women and girls. Aid sent to Syria, for example, was slashed by 69%, including cuts to programmes on education, health, maternal health, and for Palestinian refugees.

4. Address Inequalities

“Inequality has plagued our world for long enough. It is time we mend the broken promises once sworn to those most marginalised. “ — Natalie

“We need to battle issues for minorities. Our biggest concerns are Women's Rights, BIPOC Rights, and safety for the LGBTQIA+ community.” — Jasmine

Why is this important?

Not only does the UK have a very unequal distribution of income, marginalised communities are often on the front lines of major issues such as housing inequality and air pollution

While the UK has made great strides for LGBTQ+ rights, the recent cancellation of the UK government’s "Safe To Be Me" conference after a boycott by over 100 organisations is telling. 

Why did the groups pull out? In March 2022, the UK government announced a ban on conversion therapy but it left transgender people out, essentially leaving them unprotected by the new law. 

5. End Extreme Poverty

“Nothing matters as much to me as global poverty. Whilst there are many issues here in our country that need addressing, there are human beings elsewhere suffering more than we can imagine — and each £ can make many times more difference to them than it can to anyone here.” — Grace

“Global issues like poverty should be tackled by all the world governments, the United Nations, and Great Britain. They should do all [they] can to help tackle poverty in the world... We are not a poor world, we have got enough for all, we just need to learn how to share.” — Rajesh 

Why is this important?

The first Global Goal is: no poverty. Ending poverty is not an act of charity, it’s an act of justice.

Pre-pandemic global poverty rates had been cut by more than half since 2000. Encouraging, right?

But the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed nearly 100 million more people into extreme poverty and is reversing progress made on shrinking inequality around the world. 

We need Prime Minister Liz Truss to take meaningful action NOW otherwise this backsliding will only get worse and as many as 200 million more people may be plunged into extreme poverty by November.

Global Citizen Festival is calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before to End Extreme Poverty NOW. Through our global campaign and with stages in two iconic locations — NYC’s Central Park and Accra’s Black Star Square — we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizens around the world on Sept. 24 to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates. Wherever you are in the world, you can join the campaign and take action right now by downloading the Global Citizen app.

Global Citizen Asks

Demand Equity

What Must the Next UK Prime Minister Liz Truss Focus On? We Asked Global Citizens.

By Fadeke Banjo