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On Mandela Day, Activists Urge Action on Climate and Poverty

mandela-day18 July 2014: On the occasion of Mandela Day, Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bono, Muhammad Yunus, Mo Ibrahim and Malala Yousafzai sent an open letter to world leaders urging them to agree on commitments to address poverty, inequality and climate change in 2015.

“2015 will be a year of huge opportunity, but also of huge risk,” warn the letter's authors. Noting what is at stake “is not less than the future of our human family and the world upon which we all depend,” the letter emphasizes that two dramatically different futures could emerge by 2030. One path could build on progress, eradicate poverty and hunger, end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths and give everyone opportunity and the right to their lives with dignity without jeopardizing the planet. The other path represents failure to build on progress and the spread of poverty, hunger, pandemics, insecurity and resource scarcity.

The letter recalls the words of Nelson Mandela that “poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome by the actions of human beings.” Similarly, the letter states, climate change can also be remedied by the actions of human beings. It urges leaders to rise to the historic occasion by agreeing on the post-2015 development agenda and a new climate treaty in 2015.

The UN created Mandela Day to honor the former South African President on his birthday. The Day aims to remind the world of Mandela's message that we should all take responsibility for making the world a better place and his call for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world's social injustices. [Letter] [Mandela Day Website] [World We Want]