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G20 Leaders Feel the Heat From Global Citizens Ahead of Summit

G20 summit 2016. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

In these uncertain times, of increasingly isolationist foreign policies and growing inequality, a convening such as the G20 Summit in Hamburg on July 7-8 of this year holds more importance than ever before.

Comprised of leaders from the world’s major economies, accounting for 85% of the world’s gross domestic product and 80% of global trade, the G20 countries are uniquely placed to rally the financial resources and political incentive required to tackle extreme poverty.

Which is why Global Citizen has been calling on the G20 leaders to outline their concrete commitments to deliver the Global Goals for Sustainable Development — a roadmap laid out by the UN to make extreme poverty history by 2030.

And it’s working.

The over 306,000 actions Global Citizens have taken so far have been noted. And by none other than the leader of this year’s host country — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Who, in her video message below, thanked Global Citizens for their actions and engagement, noting that it is "only together that we will be able to overcome the major challenges of our times."

Global Citizens have been tirelessly campaigning across a number of issues — from gender equality to safe water and sanitation — in advance of the G20 as part of our mission to see an end to extreme poverty by 2030. Yet it is for the vital issues of health, education and foreign aid that we have seen most traction from global leaders on.

Health

Health is expected to be on the G20 agenda for the first time ever this year. And one of the key threats to the health of the planet’s population today is the imminent risk of a global pandemic — due to the increasing sophistication of pathogens and their subsequent rapid spread due to several factors including climate change and increased international travel. This risk is most keenly felt among the poorest people, who are always hit the hardest by such health crises.

Unless we invest now, WHO estimates that the next big pandemic could cost many as 200 million lives. Indeed, as Chancellor Merkel comments in her video, “Close international cooperation is designed to help us respond more effectively to crisis situations such as epidemics. The ebola crisis in West Africa showed the danger that such viruses represent.”

So far, over 26,000 Global Citizens have signed a petition to urge the G20 to invest now in pandemic preparedness — ensuring our health systems are ready to manage the next big — and inevitable — outbreak of infectious diseases.

This petition has unsurprisingly picked up ground after being presented as a recommended action in the vital film “Unseen Enemy,” that lays out the future that could lie ahead if the world doesn’t act fast on this urgent issue.

The list of signatures demanding that we protect our planet from a pandemic are due to be presented to the German Health Minister, Hermann Gröhe, at a meeting between him and Global Citizen towards the end of this month, which the Minister has just agreed to.

And we know that Minister Gröhe is already listening to our collective call thanks to this tweet the other week, that commended our persistent campaigning:

“Only by working together we can improve the health care of people worldwide. Thank you for your efforts, @GlblCtznDe.”

Education

Education is a core stepping stone in the path to a more equal world and thus is another one of the key demands Global Citizens have been making of G20 leaders.

Right now, around the world, 61 million children of elementary school age are denied an education and almost 202 million adolescents are without access to junior high or high school. So Global Citizens have been asking for a leadership announcement in support of the GPE as well as new pledges to fund education in emergencies.

Global Citizen is calling on G20 countries to announce new funding to support two key organizations: first, the Global Partnership for Education who support children in 61 of the poorest countries, and second, Education Cannot Wait— a UNICEF administered fund to get children in emergencies back into school— a vital cause in today’s world where we face the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

To make this funding a reality, Global Citizens have emailed, tweeted and petitioned over 8,000 times on education. Thankfully, the German government has firmly received the message. Confirming this by sharing our campaign poster with the world via a favored megaphone of Global Citizen’s: social media.

In their post they also underlined the importance of education. Global Citizen replied with a call for a definitive financial commitment, which still remains to be seen.

Foreign Aid

Finally, the Social Democratic Party in Germany have been responding to all Global Citizens that emailed the candidate for the general election in September, Martin Schulz, demanding that, in case he gets into government, he maintains the government’s foreign assistance budget on or above 0.7% of GDP, with a note that declares their party promise “to help the most vulnerable” and comments that “an important part of this is international development.”

This supportive statement ahead of the upcoming German election from one of the leading parties is very good news for the likelihood of an aid commitment and thus also for the future of our planet.

These are all promising statements of intent. Yet right now that is all they are. Intent will not do anything to improve the lives of the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens. What is needed are concrete financial commitments towards the Global Goals.

Let’s keep the heat on to ensure that the G20 serves as the historic turning point it could be, for a better world for all.