We can end European extreme poverty

OneVote2014: Europe-wide anti-poverty campaign

By Michelle Appeah, UK ONE Youth Ambassador

ONE.jpgEarlier this year, the ONE Campaign launched its very first European-wide anti-poverty campaign. Co-founded by Bono, ONE is a non-partisan campaigning and advocacy organisation of around 6 million members worldwide taking action to end extreme poverty, particularly in Africa. ONE raises public awareness and work with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency so that governments are accountable to their citizens.

The Youth Ambassador scheme aimed to target MEPs, asking them to sign the OneVote2014 pledge which demonstrates their commitment to ending extreme poverty by 2030.

The pledge reads:

“Ending extreme poverty is in our hands. Together, we can make sure it is virtually eliminated by 2030. In the next 5 years, we need to build support for the poorest countries, especially through investments in agriculture, healthcare and access to energy, and to make governments and businesses transparent and accountable. As a representative of the British people, I will make sure we keep our promises in the fight against extreme poverty, and help ensure that our laws make it easier for the world’s poor to lift themselves out of poverty."

The aim was to get over half of the European Parliament committed to the pledge.

 

Including myself, over 120 were selected for the scheme across Europe. The UK ambassadors received training on different aspects of campaigning, went on a tour of Downing Street, and to the DFID headquarters in London. Meetings were held with a range of influential people, such as International Development minister Lynne Featherstone, who said:

“I am particularly pleased they are focusing on some of my priority areas such as health, access to energy and governance. I’m sure in the future international development will benefit from their exceptional talents.”

The UK ambassadors also met with Shadow Secretary of State Jim Murphy at an event arranged by ONE, where he set out his vision for the future of international development. Some of the UK ambassadors also met Nick Clegg, and heard his views on development aid, whilst the French ambassadors met with Bill Gates at the launch in Paris. He said:

Those of us who see the phenomenal results of aid have a responsibility to speak up to ensure this work continues despite tough economic times. That is why I am excited to see the young people…stepping up as “factivists” to help spread the truth. With continued focus and investment, I believe this can be the generation to end extreme poverty”.

After working autonomously and in groups to get MEPs signed up through face to face meetings, tweets, calls, emails, local campaigns, and lobbying, all the European ambassadors came together for the One Summit in Brussels in June. All the ambassadors received motivational speaking and talks by various entrepreneurs, ONE members, and MPs. On the last day, the ambassadors went to the European Parliament and met with a range of MEPs who delivered motivational talks, question and answer sessions, and signed the pledge. The images and inspirational quotes received throughout the ambassador scheme were tweeted constantly with the trending hashtag ‘#onevote2014’.

However, the ambassadors didn’t stop after the summit. The UK ambassadors campaigned to get at least 100 MPs to attend the Second Reading of the International Development Bill in September 2014, which was successful, and also campaigned about the Trillion Dollar scandal at the Conservative Party Conference. The French, German, Italian, Belgian, and Dutch ambassadors also continued to meet with MEPs, as well as campaign on a range of issues such as the Trillion Dollar scandal.

The support of the public was gained through urging them to sign a petition which would in turn persuade MEPs to sign the pledge. Some ambassadors even got the support of musicians. However, there is now no need to add to the 70,000+ signatures gained as over half of the European Parliament has committed to the pledge – the target has been met! Despite this, the more MEPs signed up, the greater the chance of getting the conditions of the pledge met. Therefore, I am asking you to urge the remaining of the MEPs to sign the pledge. You can see who has and hasn’t signed through the OneVote2014 Tracker.

You can tweet, call, email, or write a letter to any of the MEPs. Working together, with the Millennium Development Goals, we have achieved the following:

  • 18.3 million children under the age of one have been immunised against measles
  • 13.7 million more children are benefiting from primary education
  • 24.5 million people have access to sanitation facilities
  • 46.5 million people assisted through social transfers for food security

Extreme poverty has roughly halved in the last 20 years from 46% to 21%, we can get it to 0% with your help. Thank you.     

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