'Dear World Leaders, we're watching you': an open letter

Chaitra Anand
·4-min read

In an act of rare global unity, 2,000 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 the 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’.

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.

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 Matters 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.

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 www.globalgoals.org. A campaign film has also been directed by Richard Curtis.

Almost 2,000 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 JJ Abrams, Riz Ahmed, Christiane Amanpour, Chris Anderson, Judd Apatow, Becca, 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.

About the Global Goals

On September 25, 2015, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 193 world leaders committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals). These are a series of ambitious objectives and targets end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change by 2030.

2020 and the Decade of Action

The open letter is part of a broader campaign for people and planet in support of the Global Goals, running throughout 2020, which is backed by a network of partners from across the world. The Decade of Action launched by the UN Secretary-General calls on governments, businesses, civil society and individuals everywhere to create an unstoppable force to reach the Goals by 2030.

The letter also receives the support of campaigners from a range of social movements and civil society organisations including Amnesty, ACT Alliance, Action 4 Sustainable Development, Avaaz, BudgIT, Christian Aid, Cafod, Comic Relief, CIVICUS, Demosistō, Extinction Rebellion, Follow the Money, GCAP, Girls Not Brides, Global Citizen, the International Rescue Committee, Malaria No More, Oxfam, the ONE campaign, Plan International, Restless Development, Save the Children, Tearfund, Twaweza, Transparency International, WaterAid, Women Deliver, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement and the YMCA.