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30 Jan 2020

Campaigners demand action

Campaigners sign letter demanding world leaders take action towards Global Goals

Signatories include world-leading activists and campaigners from Dr. Jane Goodall DBE and Malala Yousafzai, to leaders of movements including Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter; Dr Obigaileli Ezekwesili, Bring Back Our Girls; Tarana Burke, Me Too and Alexandria Villaseñor, Fridays For Future.


In a dramatic act of global unity, 2000 campaigners and public figures from over 140 countries are backing an open letter signed by 20 world-leading activists. The letter declares a state of “emergency” for people and planet. It comes one week on from UN Secretary-General António Guterres calling on the international community to make the 2020s the “decade of action” and 2020 the “year of urgency”.


"Dear World Leaders,

This is an emergency.

We are activists for different causes from across the world, writing as one for the first time to demand your immediate action in this critical year.

5 years ago, at the United Nations, 193 countries committed to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

A historic plan to end extreme poverty, conquer inequality and fix the climate crisis.

Look at our world now.

Our climate is heating up. Natural disasters are increasing. Millions flee their homes. Children suffer without vital food and healthcare. Activists are murdered for their views. Girls and women are refused an education and subjected to discrimination and violence.

But we still dare to hope that in 2020 you will act decisively and courageously and kickstart a Decade of Action.

We need you to act faster.

To find the finance. To track implementation. To unlock radical solutions. We are watching you. And we will fight every day, for people, for planet. 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?

We await your urgent reply."

Ranging from ages 10-94, the 20 leading gender, climate, environmental, equality, justice and human rights campaigners authoring the letter are Nobel Peace Prize laureates Malala Yousafzai and Nadia Murad; founder of the Me Too movement Tarana Burke; co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors; anti-apartheid campaigner Andrew Mlangeni; co-founder of Bring Back our Girls Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili; environmental campaigners Dr. Jane Goodall DBE and Yann Arthus-Bertrand; social justice and human rights campaigners Emi Mahmoud, Kumi Naidoo, Kennedy Odede, Sophie Cruz and Raull Santiago; youth climate activists Melati Wijsen and Alexandria Villaseñor; gender equality campaigners Lydia Cacho, Jaha Dukureh, Dr. Alaa Murabit and Trisha Shetty; and disability rights advocate Edward Ndopu.

Campaigners want to see political leadership at key moments this year including COP26, the Gavi replenishment, Generation Equality Forums in Mexico and France, the UN General Assembly, and a landmark biodiversity conference in China.

2000 supporters have added their names to the letter and backed this call to action. Signatories from the worlds of arts, culture, philanthropy and civil society include J.J. Abrams, Riz Ahmed, Christiane Amanpour, Chris Anderson, Judd Apatow, Becca, Alisson Becker, Dr Natália Loewe Becker, Bono, Susanne Bier, Danny Boyle, Alice Braga, Sinéad Burke, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Alfonso Cuarón, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Curtis, Fatoumata Diawara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Garner, Bob Geldof, Bear Grylls, Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Dr Mo Ibrahim, Edna Adan Ismail, Jony Ive, Katja Iversen, Lily James, Ashley Judd, Aamir Khan, Angelique Kidjo, Femi Kuti, Spike Lee, Blake Lively, Charlie Mackesy, Chris Martin, Rami Malek, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, David Miliband, Dia Mirza, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Mukwashi, Wagner Moura, Fernando Meirelles, Jamie Oliver, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Camila Pitanga, Paul Polman, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Ryan Reynolds, General Lord Richards, Julia Roberts, Saoirse Ronan, Cody Simpson, Mark Suzman, Dr Raj Shah, Peter Tatchell, Emma Thompson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Jimmy Wales, Emma Watson, Pharrell Williams and Michelle Yeoh.

Now is the time for action...Not next year, not in five years - but now in 2020.

Dr Jane Goodall DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, said:Now is the time for action if we are to achieve the Global Goals that world leaders have committed to. Not next year, not in five years - but now in 2020. We all have a role to play. My global programme for young people, Roots & Shoots is planting 5 million trees in this year alone. Those in power must now step up and play their part too.

Tarana Burke, founder of the MeToo Movement, said:The Global Goals are a solutions-focused plan that the world needs. They are as much about what is happening in the USA as in Uganda. They build on a vision of a world in which women and girls can live free from violence, harassment and discrimination, but we all know that is a long way off. That’s why we must use these Goals as a tool to hold our leaders to account and to boost all our efforts. I’m proud to stand with climate campaigners, human rights defenders, education activists today to send a clear message to leaders that these Goals are all our Goals. We are ready - and we are watching - for action.

Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and founder/chair of Reform LA Jails, said:The battle for justice and equality becomes more urgent with every passing day. I am proud to join together with 19 other activists today, across issues, across continents and generations – to demand world leaders deliver on their promises contained in the Global Goals. We are doing our bit. They must do theirs.

Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, co-founder of Bring Back Our Girls, said:Governments across the world are simply not acting quickly enough or with enough intention to meet the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals. We need our leaders to find innovative financial solutions and show us how they will commit to this next decade of action. I am proud to join with 19 other climate campaigners, gender activists, human rights defenders and anti-poverty advocates in signing this letter. These Goals are all our Goals and can only be achieved together.

Richard Curtis, SDG advocate, screenwriter and co-founder of Project Everyone, said:We are in an emergency for people and planet - the solution to which is the Global Goals - the historic plan to defeat poverty, fix inequality and combat the climate crisis. These 20 activists and 2000 supporters represent the universal and indivisible nature of the Goals - and the passion from all sides that 2020 must be a transformative, radical year for change and progress and new finance - for people and planet. In 2020, leaders will be watched by people all around the world who expect them to deliver dramatically. It’s also a clear commitment that this diverse and deeply committed group will themselves press hard throughout this crucial year to kickstart a Decade of Action for the Goals.

The open letter has been issued to highlight the need for immediate action, including at key 2020 moments, if the world is to meet the Global Goals. It demands sustained innovation, financing and action over the crucial decade ahead to 2030. Recent reports underline the need for swift action; at least half the global population does not have access to essential health services, hunger is on the rise after a prolonged decline, and at the current rate of progress, it will take almost 100 years to close the global gender gap. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions are reaching record levels and key ecosystems are on the verge of collapse with one million species in near-term danger of extinction.

The open letter is accompanied by a public campaign asking citizens to show their support by sharing the letter and to join this effort for people and planet by using #GlobalGoals. The full list of signatories can be seen at A campaign film has also been directed by Richard Curtis.