Nobel peace laureate, activists declare planet ‘in state of emergency’


In an open letter addressed to world leaders on Thursday (Jan 30), Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai and environmentalist Jane Goodall joined more than 2,000 other activists who declared a state of “emergency” for the people and the planet.

The open letter calls for an urgent action from world leaders who in 2015 signed up to a series of U.N. global goals to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.

“We need you to act faster”, the open letter read, as it also asked: “There are not just a few of us – there are millions with one voice and one question. How will you keep your promise and deliver dramatic progress towards the global goals this year?”

Movie director Richard Curtis, who has campaigned for the global goals and was among the letter’s signatories, said there had been “nothing like enough progress” in the five years since the goals were  set.

But he said growing public awareness of issues ranging from climate change to modern slavery are  forcing companies and governments to change their behavior.

“People are becoming increasingly aware of their own lives,” Curtis told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Talk to your companies about pensions, be careful about what you eat, what you wear, how you travel, and also talk to your politicians about these issues.”

The letter was co-ordinated by Project Everyone, which was co-founded by Curtis to raise awareness of global development goals, and signed by 2,020 activists from around the world.

The signatories include the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors; Obiageli Ezekwesili, who co-founded the Bring Back Our Girls movement in Nigeria, and Nobel peace laureate and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad.

It was published a week after the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to make the 2020s a “decade of action” to deliver the global goals, warning it was still “off track”.

“At present course, half a billion people will still be living in extreme poverty by 2030,” Guterres said.

A United Nations assessment last year found that progress has been made on the goal of ending extreme poverty, but in other areas, “progress has been slow or even reversed”. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)