The most important Irish man in 2015 is not Enda Kenny, or Paul O’Connell or Bono – it is Ireland’s rather less well-known ambassador to the UN, David Donoghue.
Why would this be the case? Because this year he co-manages, along with Ambassador Macharia from Kenya, an unprecedented global process on behalf of everyone on the planet. Their aim is to get UN agreement on a visionary set of goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, fight corruption, and transform the global economy towards a more sustainable growth path.
No pressure, then.
I hope David got a good break over the holidays because he’ll need a lot of energy in the months ahead. And he will need to hear from citizens across the country, and around the world, on the importance of the decisions he is making on behalf of us all.
Making extraordinary things happen
If we press David and his peers to get a good compact agreed this year, then we will see extraordinary things happen. This will mean helping developing countries with more effective aid, trade, investment, policies and helping citizens within developing counties – and indeed all of us – to hold leaders accountable for the delivery of these promised polices.
If we get this package agreed then, by 2030, one billion more people might lift themselves out of extreme poverty; three million fewer kids might die each year from preventable treatable diseases; every girl could access decent schooling, and vast regions of drought-prone countries would be re-afforested and soil health renewed to help farmers fight against hunger and climate change.
Some may be sceptical about these big global plans and what they achieve. But we have more form than many think when it comes to progress in the fight against extreme poverty.
In 2000 the Millennium Development Goals were agreed and have helped galvanise support around the world which, in turn, has helped groups like ONE campaign for billions more euros in the fight against extreme poverty, made sure the money was better spent than before, cancelled over a hundred billion euros in African debt and promoted more transparency in investment and governance. All this has helped developing nations dramatically reduce child mortality and deaths from Aids, TB and malaria, and with over 50 million more children going to school. Globally extreme poverty has been halved since 1990, and could be virtually eradicated by 2030 – if we get this right
Press politicians to agree on better policies
Because the stakes are so high today, a global movement has been launched by the likes of Malala Yousufzai, Bill and Melinda Gates and over one thousand NGOs around the world. It’s called action2015 and it’s calling upon you and everyone you’ve ever met, your friends and your family, to be great global citizens and join groups like Dochas and ONE to press politicians to agree better policies – and then stick to them.
In particular, we are demanding a revolution in financing for development in 2015, a disruptive breakthrough in transparency that shows how the world is run, a radical improvement in the availability of information – especially in the developing world, but also in places like Ireland’s Financial Services Centre and the City of London.
Citizens need to be able to be able to follow the money, to see not just where aid goes to save lives, but also the far bigger sums involved in how investments flow to buy natural resource extraction contracts, who owns which secretive anonymous shell company to help hide stolen money, and the trail from resources to results – or lack of them.
If a new global movement of citizens demands this revolution in transparency and data, and ensures this is at the heart of the new global goals that Donoghue is negotiating, we citizens will be able to hold power accountable better than ever before.
The Irish have always been great global citizens, giving more than half aid to the poorest nations and keeping to aid promises even in the hardest times. This movement believes passionately that new technology married with the oldest resource known to humanity – our thirst for fairness and justice – can unite a renewed, connected, informed and effective movement of activist citizens from around the world. Citizens who together, through their actions, must help point the world away from some of the darker trends that have shocked us all – from Ebola to acts of extremism – and towards a better safer word for us all.
So let’s not just hope Paul O’ Connell lifts the rugby world cup this year – but also that David O’ Donoghue holds aloft a great new global social contract to inspire us all.
action/2015 is calling on the public to join them in their calls to ensure world leaders commit to a better world. Throughout 2015, the campaign will provide ways for everyone everywhere to get involved in influencing the outcomes of these global debates For more information please visit www.action2015.org