action/2015 launch: January 15, 2015

This blog post was written and researched by World Affairs Council Intern, Katie Brown.

According to new research, almost a billion extra people face a life of extreme poverty if leaders duck key decisions on poverty, inequality and climate change due to be discussed at two summits in New York and Paris later this year, with billions more continuing to face a life of hardship. That’s why organizations of all shapes and sizes across the globe are launching a new campaign called action/2015 to galvanize local and world leaders towards action to halt man-made climate change, eradicate poverty and address inequality.

Source: These new calculations released by action/2015 suggest that even in relatively conservative scenarios the number of people living in extreme poverty – on less than $1.25 a day – could be reduced from over a billion to 360 million by 2030. Estimates from other researchers show that the eradication of extreme poverty is achievable for the first time in history – a key objective of the campaign.

Conversely, if leaders fail to deliver and build on the growing momentum for ambitious change at the UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN Climate talks in Paris in December, the number of people living in extreme poverty could actually increase to 1.2 billion by 2030. This would be the first increase in a generation (since 1993) and almost a billion higher (886 million) than if ambitious action is taken.

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Prize winner who put her life on the line for the right to education said;

People globally want an end to injustice, poverty and illiteracy. Our world is interconnected and youth are ready and mobilised more than ever to see real change take place. Together, we are demanding our leaders take action in 2015 and we must all do our part. I will continue to work tirelessly to call on world leaders to seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality primary and secondary education for every child. That is my goal and I hope that my voice will be heard as it is the voice of millions of children who want to go to school.”

Source:When accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala announced the action/2015 campaign, which has since been joined by the efforts of high profile activists such as Queen Rania of Jordan, Bill and Melinda Gates and Mo Ibrahim, in addition to thousands of organizations in more than 120 countries around the world. Through the efforts of this diverse group of actors, the campaign is calling on world leaders to decisively act to eradicate poverty, prevent dangerous climate change and tackle inequality while at these summits. From well-known INGOs like Save the Children and Amnesty International to grassroots organizations working in local communities, the movement aims to make sure the agreements of 2015 are shaped by the people.

action/2015 is calling on the public, particularly youth, to join them in their efforts to instigate change and impress upon world leaders the importance of the issues to be discussed at the summits. Over the course of 2015, the campaign will provide ways for everyone to get involved to make progress in completing the following goals:

  • An end to poverty in all its forms;
  • The meeting of fundamental rights, tackling inequality and discrimination;
  • An accelerated transition to 100% of renewable energy;
  • A world where everyone can participate and hold their leaders accountable.

At  part  of  the  launch,  activities  are  taking  place  in  more  than  50  countries  all  around  the  world.    Many of these are spearheaded by 15 year olds – a constituency who will be among the most affected by the agreements:

  • In Costa Rica, young people will take to their bicycles to raise the profile of the campaign in a cycle rally which will deliver the message of the campaign to leaders and the public.
  • In India, young people are meeting their leaders in 15 states and over 150 districts to deliver their messages of hope for 2015.
  • In Nigeria, 15-year-olds will present their hopes for the future to Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a live concert;
  • In Norway, a delegation of 15 year old campaigners from across the country will meet with
  • Prime Minister Erna Solberg to challenge her to play her part in the summits and secure a safe future for people and planet in 2015;
  • In Uganda young people will challenge the Speaker of Parliament to listen to their demands when they hand over a petition signed by over 10,000 young people;
  • In the UK, some of Britain’s leading youth activists will meet Prime Minister David Cameron and Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, to urge them to seize the opportunities of 2015.

Pittsburgh will also be participating in the action/2015 launch on January 15th as area students add their voices to youth from around the globe in a call for action for some of the world’s most serious issues. Through a video conference involving Avonworth High School, Cornell School District, and Quaker Valley High School of Pittsburgh, Northwestern High School in Erie, Del Valle High School in Texas, Colegio Newland in Mexico, and Kherad School in Iran, students will discuss how world leaders should address the problems most important to them. They will hear from Michael Klosson, Vice President for Policy and Humanitarian Response for Save the Children, based in Washington, D.C. Students will also participate in the global digital rally by contributing to a “selfie” campaign in which they will share their dreams for the future. These students will join millions around the world in speaking up for a desire for change.

Source: In addition, two students from Cornell High School have been selected to visit Washington, D.C. as part of the launch. Held in partnership among the ONE Campaign and Save the Children, the students will have the opportunity to meet with a high level representative at the White House to share the changes they would like to see in the next 15 years. They will also have the opportunity to tour the nation’s capital. The Cornell students will be joined by 15 year-olds from across the country.

Throughout the program, these students will be encouraged to voice their own hopes for change during the next fifteen years as they look towards a time when they will be the leaders responsible for these issues. Speaking about why she got involved in the campaign, Maryam, a Nigerian child rights activist, who will turn 15 this year said:

“By 2030, I will be an adult, and may have children of my own. My generation might not be the ones making decisions today, but we will be the ones to make sure that our leaders take full responsibility for the actions they take this year.

action/2015 will be a platform for young people just like Maryam and our Pittsburgh students, not only giving them a chance call for action now, but also making them actors for their own futures.



Day of the African Child: Celebrating 50 years of African Unity



“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.” – Nelson Mandela

This post was written by Jalyn Evans, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern

June 16, 1976, 10,000 students took to the streets of Soweto, South Africa, refusing to attend poorly funded schools which administered education in a language they did not know. The Bantu Education Act of 1953, a pillar of the Apartheid project, required non-white students to be educated in a way that suited their culture, ultimately preparing non-white South Africans for manual labor roles in the society. Penalties imposed on political protests, even non-violent protests, were severe, ranging from life sentences in prison to beatings and death. The protest in Soweto turned violent when students were greeted by police forces armed with teargas and loaded firearms. Over 20 students were killed in the chaos between police and protesters.  This was a major strike in the fight to dismantle the apartheid government, which legally instituted racial segregation in 1948.

Soweto’s 1976 movement for education equality is kept alive in spirit by the South African holiday, Youth Day (June 16th) and namely the African Union (AU), a renowned organization dedicated to the “development and integration” of the African continent. The AU commemorated this year’s Day of the African Child (DAC) centering initiatives on “child friendly, quality, free, and compulsory education for all children in Africa.” The event which is held annually at the Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia entailed:

  • inter-generational dialogue between children and experts;
  • a talent show;
  • a mini-marathon;
  • and a press conference.

See the video linked below for more information:


From DAC to IDAY: A Growing Movement

The Day of the African Child has become an international movement through the support and emergence of organizations and non-profits from nation to nation.  Established in 2005, the non-profit organization IDay has a network of 8 European and 16 African countries with more than 240 member associations. Click here to see example of IDAY supporters.

IDAY’s vision

A world where all barriers to education are eliminated and where all African youth have access to quality basic education.

Get Involved!

Here are some ways that you support the Day of the African Child and IDAY movement in your country:

  • Organize an IDAY celebration in your country;
  • Help the IDAY International team with translations, design, information technology, organization of the June 16 events;
  • Raise awareness about IDAY and get in contact with other organizations in Europe or in Africa that operate in the field of education in Africa and might be interested in joining IDAY!

Protests and Progress

Turkey protests in pictures

While protestors in Istanbul build barricades from paving stones and the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Demonstration passes, the UN is beginning discussions to update the Millenium Development Goals, which expire in 2015. Delegations to the UN lack the media attention of the battered Turks, but their work may be just as significant–there is a key connection between the development goals and the protests that have swept the globe in the past few years. The Millenium Development Goals have succeeded, and protesters struggling through teargas is the smoking gun of modernization.


Established in 2000, the Millenium Development Goals are eight sets of goals designed to combat global poverty through economic development, accessible health care, primary education for boys and girls, and partnerships for global development. While many of the goals remain unfulfilled, especially health-related benchmarks, the number of people living below the global poverty line of $1.25 a day has dramatically decreased. Many are praising free markets and liberalism for the rise of the developing countries, including states where economic prosperity has preceded political liberalism. Asia saw the most significant improvement between 1990 and 2015, responsible for bringing nearly 650 million people out of poverty through its meteoric economic rise.


As developing states rise out of poverty and develop a middle class, the political structure begins to change. According to Richard Inglehart and Christian Welzel in the article “What We Know about Modernization: How Development Leads to Democracy,” published in Foreign Affairs in 2009, economic development leads to modernization, which is the socialization of advanced political systems. Inglehart and Welzel write, “Modernization makes people more economically secure, and self-expression values become more increasingly widespread when a large share of the population grows up taking survival for granted.” Nothing says self-expression like a good protest–the Turkish protesters are reacting against increasingly traditional government policies instead of secular.


Do protests in Turkey indicate that economic success has led to a socialization of democratic principles? Turkey’s secular system and economic success seemed to make Turkey a model state for developing countries, yet under Prime Minister Erdogan, the AK party has become increasingly authoritarian. Islamist policies have alienated the secular parties, leading to the clash over this past weekend. Prime Minister Erdogan was democratically elected, and remained one of the most popular leaders in the region. What remains to be seen is how he will respond to the protests. If he continues to be antagonistic toward secularization, things could get interesting.


If Turkey’s success has led to its turmoil, that leads us to the question of the next set of development goals. Will continued economic development, focusing on Africa especially, lead to a new wave of protest movements? What about states where we see economic development but have yet to see political change, such as China? As the UN seeks to push poverty farther into the corners, we may see a rise of political unrest. If these movements are growing pains, they may actually be an encouraging sign of modernization.

by Ian Graham, World Affairs Council Intern

Humanitarian Aid Training…Locally!

Are you interested in human rights, activism and humanitarian work? Look no further than the Steel City’s own La Roche College!

Local Pittsburgh University, La Roche College, is offering an innovative, unique summer training program aimed at eager college graduates hoping to work in the Emergency and Humanitarian Aid field. Their two week Global Development and Humanitarian Aid Training Program will develop participant’s understanding of human rights and humanitarian contexts, principles and laws in this modern, ever-changing world.

This program entails: Two-week online pre- and post-trainings, providing initial assessment, orientation to key concepts and ideas, and program follow-up…

Followed by: Two-week intensive on-campus training, using simulations and other applied skills training, field visits to humanitarian aid organizations, RedR UK training, and guest lectures by experienced professionals

Application Requirements include:

  1. College Degree
  2. 2 References
  3. Essay & Application
  4. Resume

For more information on this program visit: