It’s 2:30 a.m. You’re lying in bed, two hours into a mammoth doom scroll. Little beads of sweat have formed on your forehead. You’re a little short of breath and the heart palpitations have started.
We’ve been there. Sometimes it can feel like all the world’s problems are just too much. From the dangers of climate change and gender inequality, to the systemic injustices that some communities face and the barriers that lock people in poverty.
This year, with a mission that’s more urgent than ever, we’ve embarked on an ambitious campaign that spans the world. With a focus on empowering adolescent girls and women, tackling climate change, and addressing the systemic barriers that keep people in poverty, so that we can End Extreme Poverty NOW, we’re calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before.
Why? Because the world needs it. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine rollouts have been grossly unequal, the gap between the rich and the poor only continues to widen, climate change is already ravaging the planet, and without immediate action, could push 132 million more people into extreme poverty by 2030, and women and girls have fared worse across nearly every metric.
What’s worse, it can seem like the world’s leaders aren’t doing enough. They wax lyrical about green promises and a more equal world but then sneak in plans to reinvest in fossil fuels or overturn key sexual and reproductive health and rights legislation that protected a woman’s right to choose.
So we asked Global Citizens from across 59 countries what they think world leaders must do to actually make the world better. With nearly 1,000 responses from around the world advocating for climate action, equality, justice, education access, and more, here are some of the inspiring things you told us — along with just some of the actions you can join Global Citizens in taking to help make this change happen.
“Climate change has to be the number one issue [governments act on] as without a liveable planet there are no humans. Genuinely kind, inclusive, and meaningful immediate action on climate change can lead the way on so many other important, crucial social issues, as it would show that we can do it and we do actually care.” — John, New Zealand
“[We need] education on climate crisis issues, including but not limited to the coming famine (world food and water shortages), excessive logging, tree clearing, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions including current carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and mercury emissions.” — James, Australia
“Let all life thrive rather than just survive, be brave, take action” — Margot, New Zealand
“Firstly ensure food and nutrition security for all citizens. To do that, you need to mitigate the effects of climate change. The natural environment and ecosystems must be restored to achieve it. Pollution of air, water bodies, and soil must [also] be alleviated. — Yusuf, Bangladesh
“All the problems are interconnected. We will never solve the climate emergency without an end to extreme inequality, and to that end we also need gender equality. Education is the basis of every transformation, but it is impossible to educate people [who are] starving, or fleeing violence or climate events. And all this is impossible without social justice, and the rich countries recognizing their historical responsibility, the damages caused by colonialism and neo-colonialism, and consequently their duty to repair those damages.” — Giselle, Brazil
“Our country should have an annual Youth Conference to better consult us, the youths.” — Colleen, Papua New Guinea
“I want governments to act on the lessening of democracy and human rights in the face of dictatorships.” — Tamalia, Indonesia
“If you improve the lives of women, you improve the lives of the entire community.” — Michelle, Canada
“We can solve climate change if we involve women. We are already seeing some of the devastating effects of climate change, with increasing floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Women are the most vulnerable in these situations, facing the maximum risk due to their socio-economic status. With the majority of them living in poverty, women are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events, loss of agricultural productivity, destruction of life and property and so on, all of which stem from the climate crisis.” — Aliyah, Ghana
“I would like to talk about education in rural areas in my country. I went to a rural area to collect data during the population census which ended recently and I found out that the children there do not have a better educational system. Firstly they have mud structures as school buildings and because of the conditions there, no teacher [wants] to stay there. There are no lights and good water for them to use.” — Elizabeth, Ghana
“A nation can do better only when all of its citizens are well fed and their basic needs of survival are met.” — Roma, India
“We should focus on giving women and girls the infrastructure, resources, quality education, and parental support to help them get the most from their time at school and go on to lead productive, healthy, and happy lives around the world. The causes of poverty are many and complex but girls’ education is the quickest route out of it around the globe.” — Dominic, Kenya
“[We should] allow young people to participate in government departments and take part in decision making.” — Foruntate, Malawi
“Abolish war, which sucks so many resources away from social services and causes huge damage to the environment.” — Gerry, Japan
“World governments need to do more to cement women’s’ rights into the laws. A right to abortion needs to be a mandatory law that’s available to anyone that needs one at all times.” — Bronwyn, Scotland
“I want [my government] to stop cutting overseas aid, support women and girls in marginalized and third world countries, and address the climate crisis in a meaningful way, such as leading by example. It's time for action not platitudes and token 'thank you for contacting me with your concerns' emails.” — Karleen, UK
“Rich countries need to agree to change their lifestyles and reduce their footprint in this world. They need to take responsibility and see the direct relationship between their actions and the often endemic issues elsewhere” — Sarah, Afghanistan
“Promote an inclusive economy that seeks to fulfill human need over human greed.” — Rod, Australia
“Stop fighting and dismissing protests for climate, for Indigenous rights, for equality.” — Patricia, Canada
“The best way to face these inequalities is to provide fundamental products and services to anyone, for free. Health care access and products, water, internet, electricity should be considered public goods and be provided regardless of social and financial status.” — Helen, Greece
“A bottom up approach: build on resources the poor have, train them, and provide seed funding.” — Sandra, Kenya
“First, keep promises such as $100 billion for climate adaptation. A promise is just a start.” — Maria, Netherlands
“Tax the wealthy, forgive student loans, and provide free college for individuals from low or middle class backgrounds.” — Ashlee, US