Action/2015 calls on world leaders to face up to their choices

The Sustainable Development Goals set this year will determine what kind of world the next generation grows up in


There are some moments in history when the world comes together and agrees they want to make a real change. That happened fifteen years ago at the beginning of the new millennium, when I hadn’t even had my first birthday. In 2000, leaders from across the world joined together to agree on eight goals that every country promised to stick to. These were called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This year could be another of those moments, as the current MDGs come to an end and a new set are agreed. The new goals being set are called the Sustainable Development Goals, making 2015 an incredibly important year as setting them brings massive opportunities to shape the near future. In September – when leaders meet to discuss the new goals – it’s essential they get it right.

Right now, across the world, there are many shocking figures and facts, that could – and should – be changed. Around 1 billion people are living in extreme poverty (earning less than $1.25 a day). 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation and from this 2,240 children die each day from diarrhoea, which is spread through poor sanitation and hygiene.

As well as this, more than half of the 57 million children of school age who are unable to attend are girls suffering in areas of conflict or living in rural areas. This year is the moment where we see the change needed globally, and we can make a difference

Already significant progress has been made in issues across the world. 88 per cent of people in the world today have enough food to eat and lead healthy lives.  This figure is up from 76 per cent in 1970. Education plays a key part in development as educated girls raise healthier families. 57 million more children started school in sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2011 – which is good news for the future as every year of schooling decreases infant mortality by five to ten per cent.

This is reason for optimism and evidence that when we try hard, we can make a difference. I am sure in the near future we can help to eradicate inequalities that exist across the world. By the time I’m 30, in another fifteen years’ time, we could virtually eradicate extreme poverty and address many more related challenges. That’s why this year is so important – that change begins now.

I feel extremely honoured and overwhelmed to be part of action/2015 as it’s such a huge, global campaign with backing from a large number of people. I am so excited about what this year holds for the future and how with the help of several organisations, I can play a part in helping the world leaders seize the incredible opportunity 2015 brings in order to end poverty, inequality and avoid dangerous climate change.

It was brilliant to meet the David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband at Downing Street – but it was even better to get the chance to tell them how important this is to future generations. Young people are extremely important in this campaign because we are the next generation of world leaders, and therefore we will be the ones agreeing the next set of goals when these forthcoming ones expire. We are the ones that will be living with the consequences of decisions made this year so it is only right that we have a voice.

Katie Knight is a youth activist for action/2015

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.