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The Action Thread Part Two


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TRANSPARENCY

REPORT: (Em)Powering Accountability

September 18 2017 | By: JOSEPH KRAUS

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In France, nearly one in five light bulbs is lit by Nigerien uranium.

In Niger, almost 90% of the population does not even have access to electricity.

These two facts highlight a harsh reality: the natural resources extracted from developing countries do not always get used to maximum effect to improve the lives of people living in extreme poverty. To right that wrong, ONE has made it a priority to hold governments and companies accountable for how natural resource revenues get handled and used.

That is why today we are publishing a report, produced in partnership with Oxfam and Sherpa, that analyses the payments that French oil and mining companies have made to governments, with a focus on payments made to the governments of Angola and Niger. The report’s findings raise serious questions about how companies are paying governments for their natural resources and highlights just how critical transparency of these payments is for empowering citizens to hold both governments and companies accountable.

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Our analysis reveals that, while Niger accounts for 30% of the global uranium production of Areva, a French uranium company, it receives just 7% of the payments Areva pays to countries where it operates. This may be due to a pricing formula Areva applied to its royalty fees that lead to a 15 million euros decrease in its royalty payments to Niger in 2015. We also found evidence to suggest that Areva may be undervaluing its uranium exports from Niger, potentially reducing its tax burden by between 15 and 30 million euros in 2015.

In total, these questionable reductions may have cost the Niger government as much as 45 million euros, an amount equivalent to 10% of the education budget in a country where 70% of the population is illiterateand only 54% of female primary school students reach sixth grade.

In Angola, our analysis reveals significant discrepancies in the payments that Total, a major French oil company, made to the Angolan government for the extraction of oil. Looking at data from just one oil block in Angola shows a difference of more than $100 million in 2015 between Angola’s disclosed revenues and Total’s reported payments. There are several potential explanations for that discrepancy. They could be the result of:

  1. Differences in how Total and the Angolan government define and estimate the data to be published,
  2. Misappropriated revenues by the Angolan government,
  3. Total intentionally misrepresenting the value of each barrel of oil in an effort to lower its taxes owed to the Angolan government.

That we are even able to identify these discrepancies and ask hard questions about why they occurred is new. It is possible because of a law passed in the European Union in 2013 (which ONE and its partners fought hard for) that requires oil, gas, mining and timber companies to publish the payments they make to governments. France was the first EU country to implement the law, and we now, for the very first time, have detailed information about what companies are paying to governments for the extraction of natural resources.

That marks a potential game-changer in the fight to hold governments and companies accountable and to help ensure the much-needed revenues are being used to fight extreme poverty.

Yet more needs to be done. Our analysis reveals shortcomings in the French (and EU) law that need to be fixed to close loopholes and avoid misreporting. In the EU and in Canada, where a similar law was passed in 2014, governments should require that companies disclose the information in an open data format, making it easier to access and analyse. In the US, where a law passed in 2010 has yet to be implemented, Congress should press the Securities & Exchange Commission to issue a strong rule that aligns with the global transparency standard.

Ensuring that revenues from natural resources are effectively used to improve social services and combat poverty, particularly in some of the world’s poorest countries, is both the right and smart thing to do. With increased transparency, we have moved one step closer to that goal.

To find out more, download the transparency report today.

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EDUCATION

If education is in a state of emergency, where are the first responders?

September 20 2017 | By: ROXY PHILSON

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Tell world leaders: ACT NOW for 130 million girls out of school

 
  

Upon visiting the country last month, Malala Yousafzai was painfully correct in calling an education emergency in Nigeria. But we can and should go further. The situation is extreme in Nigeria, but truthfully, there is a global girls’ education emergency.

Right now, it screams in silence. We need to give voice to it before this injustice destroys a generation’s future and sets back progress and peace on many fronts for us all.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for progress on the global education crisis is that while everyone understands its importance, the absence of it isn’t seen on our newsfeeds or reported from live from the scene. It is a slow, relatively quiet, but extreme loss of opportunity.

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Students outside Nyange Secondary School, Kilombero Region, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

As a campaigner, I’ve worked on killer diseases like HIV, malaria, pneumococcal disease, and rotavirus. While there is more to be done on these issues, their desperation is easier to convey to the public and politicians alike. Rubbish education systems don’t have a direct body count to compel urgent action.

But the facts should urge for a change: 130 million girls are out of school when they should be in, and half a billion women can’t read or write. Millions more are in school but learning either nothing or little of value, especially considering the realities of the future world of work — and the focus on STEM subjects, in particular.

If the facts don’t shout loud enough, the people and their stories do. One that recently shook me to the core was that of Amina, a 20-year-old woman in northern Nigeria. She is a mother of six who lost her husband to Boko Haram. The question that demands an answer from us all is, who will now educate Amina’s children? Will it be Amina, with the help of her government and an international system that recognises this emergency? Or will it be Boko Haram and their dystopic take on what education means?

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(Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

The population of Nigeria, like that of the rest of Africa, will double over the next generation, having just doubled over the last generation. This youth boom demands investment or a generation that could be powering global economic growth may be lost to anger, frustration, and mass displacement — fuelling conflict, not progress.

If all that seems too much to bear, the good news is that there are mechanisms in search of funding today that can help get these kids an education. The Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait are ready to scale up, with further funding possible from the World Bank and newly proposed International Financing Facility for Education.

Like too many sectors in development, there’s an acronym soup of initiatives that need stronger alignment and greater accountability through clear, open, real-time data — but it is getting there.

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A student at Nyange Secondary School, Kilombero Region, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Sam Vox/ONE)

Of course, the most important leadership comes from African governments themselves and their ability to prove that taxes paid within a country go to provide decent education for their citizens. Decent education for the next generation is at the heart of every nation’s basic social contract, and at that of the global community. That’s why it was exciting to see President Sall of Senegal and President Macron of France announce today that they will co-host the replenishment for the Global Partnership for Education in Dakar on February 8, 2018. When domestic leadership aligns with international support and focuses on outcomes for Amina and her kids, all our futures improve.

This won’t happen with well-intentioned wishful thinking, nor slightly more money for some small fry fund, or even yet another pilot project. To act on a scale proportionate to the need, education has to take centre stage with innovative solutions scaled and some risks taken. Education must be seen as the pre-eminent issue for the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals — for it is here that the battle for progress and peace for everyone on this planet will really take place. Please help sound the education emergency alarm.

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AID AND DEVELOPMENT

5 amazing charities that are changing the world

September 5 2017 | By: SAMANTHA URBAN

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Here at ONE, we’re a policy and advocacy organization that asks you to speak up to your elected officials to support the fight against extreme poverty. But today, we want to spotlight just a few of the many charities that do an incredible job on the ground in the areas where they work to fight some of the causes and symptoms of poverty and injustice.

AkiraChix

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Beatrice Kirii works on a logo design in the Akirachix classroom. (Photo credit: Abby Higgins)

This Nairobi nonprofit organization was founded by women and for women. (You can read all about it here.) The program teaches coding, web design, and app development to low-income women at almost all levels: primary school, high school, college, and professional. More than 150 girls have been trained at Akirachix with almost as many going on to work in technology.

SafeCity

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SafeCity operates in Nepal, among other countries. (Photo credit: SafeCity)

This not-for-profit organization created an online platform that encourages anonymous reporting of personal experiences of sexual violence in public spaces through crowdsourced data. Since it started in 2012, the platform has been actively mapping sexual violence in India, Kenya, Nepal, and Cameroon. Why is this so important? It allows victims to share stories, informs others about the issue, and forces accountability from service providers like police and municipal authorities in making public spaces safer.

Room to Read

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A Room to Read program at a South African school. (Photo credit: Room to Read)

Passionate about literature? How about literacy? This charity is all about promoting improving lives through quality education. They have a lot of expertise: 87% of the staff members are from the areas where they work — places like Tanzania, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Cambodia. Check out this story about the positive effects of adding literacy programs and a library to one particular South African school.

Light Years IP

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A group of Maasai. (Photo credit: joxeankoret/Wikimedia Commons)

This unique non-profit is dedicated to poverty alleviation by enabling farmers and producers to use intellectual property business strategies to boost income. For example, the Light Years IP team worked with Ethiopian Fine Coffee to help them own their own brands and license them. They’re also helping an entire tribe — the Maasai — take ownership of their name and brand.

AfriPads Foundation

AfriPads provides supplies to the students of City Shine Secondary School.

AfriPads provides supplies to the students of City Shine Secondary School. (Photo credit: Megan Iacobini De Fazio)

Uganda-based AFRIpads is a social business that locally manufactures reusable sanitary pads. So in addition to creating jobs right in Uganda for the women making the pads, AFRIpads partners with schools to make sure no girl is forced to miss school because of menstruation.

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"Tonight, I'm taking a knee for America." Stevie Wonder made a powerful statement last night – right on the Global Citizen Festival stage – against injustice in America and around the world. Thank you for being an inspiration to Global Citizens everywhere, Stevie.

 

 

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People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

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SEPT. 24, 2017

Stevie Wonder, Pharrell, & More Call for Peace and Progress at Global Citizen Festival

Nearly 60,000 Global Citizens came out to Central Park.

By Colleen Curry

 

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gcf17_crowd_danieldorsaforglobalcitizen168.jpgDaniel Dorsa for Global Citizen
 

The power of music and activism has never been more apparent than it was in Central Park, in New York City, tonight.

After more than 60,000 fans took action on human rights issues to attend the sixth annual Global Citizen Festival, world leaders responded in ways that will change the world for millions of citizens.

Global Citizen veteran Stevie Wonder headlined the concert, joined by Pharrell , along with performances by Green Day, The Killers, The Lumineers, The Chainsmokers, Big Sean, Andra Day, and Alessia Cara.

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Celebrity hosts Kal Penn, Hugh Jackman, Deborra Lee-Furness, and Priyanka Chopra were joined by surprise guests like Whoopi Goldberg, who came on stage to share her own personal motivation for wanting to see an end to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

But music and celebrities are just half of what happens at a Global Citizen Festival. The Global Citizen Festival exists to effect change, to bring about policy change and commitments from governments and businesses to improve the world.

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GCF17_AlessiaCara_MaryKangForGlobalCitizen160.jpgAlessia Cara (Mary Kang for Global Citizen)

This year, dozens of United States Congress members brought their support to Global Citizen’s mission to end extreme poverty by vowing to protect the foreign aid budget, appearing on stage and in person.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio kicked off the festival, which was filled with appearances from world leaders and luminaries including Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Dr. Jane Goodall, Kweku Mandela, Demi Lovato, Freida Pinto, Lupita Nyong'o, and Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo.

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775044845LS037_2017_Global_.JPGThe Killers (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

 

One of the best parts of the Global Citizen Festival each year is seeing the power of the GC movement. This year, the actions taken by global citizens helped garner major commitments from world leaders to improve human rights around the globe.

The President of Ghana, Nana Afuko-Addo, announced that his government just pledged $100 million to ensuring free education for all kids in Ghana, which would help boys and girls stay in school longer, and therefore reduce child marriage — a major objective of Global Citizen.

“This policy means that poverty will no longer be an excuse for parents to keep their girls out of school and forced into early child marriages,” Afuko-Addo said.

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Global Citizen Festival veteran Demi Lovato made her own special commitment when she appeared to announce her partnership with Save the Children and Global Citizen to prioritize mental health and education for refugees through Save the Children’s HEART program in Iraq.

“Ending the stigma around mental illness and supporting internally displaced children build physical and mental resilience through education and access to justice is not a choice, it needs to happen, and it needs to happen now,” Lovato said.

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The all-star turnout would not have been possible without Global Citizens taking action on behalf of human rights around the world. Global Citizens took more than 1.6 million actions ahead of the 2017 festival.

In the two months leading up to Global Citizen Week, Global Citizens took over 1.6 million actions urging leaders to tackle extreme poverty

This collective cry helped drive 29 commitments, 55 announcements and 13 calls to action, that totaled $3.2 billion, which are set to affect the lives of 221 million people.

It was a year for the books.

TOPICS2017, Festival, Citizen, Global

Colleen Curry is a senior editor at Global Citizen. She has covered domestic and international news for outlets including ABC News, VICE News, and The New York Times, with a particular focus on women's issues, criminal justice, and LGBT rights. She is also pursuing her Master's in Creative Writing, and has had nonfiction published by Sports Illustrated and Marie Claire.

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People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

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SEPT. 24, 2017

Whoopi Goldberg Spoke Powerfully About HIV/AIDS at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival

"I'm not going to take the BS anymore."

Phineas Rueckert
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danieldorsa_globalcitizen_2901.jpgWhoopi Goldber (Daniel Dorsa for Global Citizen)
 

Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and, Tony award winner Whoopi Goldberg is no stranger to the spotlight. 

And on Saturday night, Goldberg stood in front of 60,000 Global Citizens on the Global Citizen Festival stage to speak about a topic very dear to her own heart: HIV/AIDS. 

 

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"I wish you could see what I see because when I look out at all of this I think you can change the world," Goldberg said, looking out at the crowd. 

"When I was younger a terrible epidemic hit us," she said. "It marked a generation of people, and people have fought hard and long to find a cure."

HIV/AIDS survivors, Goldberg said, need to find the support of people who "will stand with them and say 'I love you, no matter what.'" 

She then got the crowd involved with a powerful call and response.

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"You're okay with me, and I stand with you," she said — to which the crowd of 60,000 responded with the same nine words. 

Golberg has been an outspoken advocate for people who suffer from HIV/AIDS, whichcontinues to affect 36.7 million people around the world 

In 2003, she became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS . According to Out, her activism on the issue dates back 30 years. She was honored in 2016 with an Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award For AIDS Activism 

Over the past six years, Global Citizens have taken 1.47 million actions for increasing access to global health, including HIV/AIDS. Those actions have led to 48 commitments by governments, and is set to affect 626 million people by 2030.

"This is how we change the world, one person at a time," Goldberg said. "I'm not going to take the BS anymore." 

Goldberg then introduced Johnson & Johnson's Dr. Paul Stoffers, who announced a breakthrough in large scale efficiency testing of an HIV in humans. 

"We've been waiting for this for a long time baby," Golberg said of the announcement. 

Phineas Rueckert is a writer at Global Citizen. He graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Political Science and International Studies, and spent the past year teaching English in Toulouse, France. He is originally from Brooklyn, New York.

 

 

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People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

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SEPT. 23, 2017

Alessia Cara Just Gave a Powerful Speech About Body Image & Self Worth at Global Citizen Festival 2017

"You are worth it. You are worthy of all the love in the world."

By Colleen Curry

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

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gcf17_alessiacara_marykangforglobalcitizen160.jpgMary Kang for Global Citizen.
 

It was a powerful moment on the Global Citizen stage. 

Alessia Cara paused her performance at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival to dedicate her hit song, "Scars To Your Beautiful," to all of the women in the audience with a stirring speech about body image and self-worth.

"How many girls do we have here today?" Cara shouted from the stage. "This next song is particularly for all of the women here today and all of the women who go through struggles today."

Cara said that the inspiration for her song was the frustration she was feeling over societal expectations about how women should look and behave, expectations that can lead women to struggle with self-acceptance. 

"As women and as girls we have so many expectations placed on us all the time and there’s so many things we have to be, and are expected to be, and so many ways we’re expected to look, and I was getting really tired of it and I know a lot of us are," she said.

 

The 21-year-old singer is a determined force for positive change in the world, and has been using her voice to deliver a message of empowerment. "Scars to Your Beautiful" won the “Best Fight Against the System” award at the MTV 2017 Video Music Awards.

"I wanted to make a song to remind anybody here who doesn’t feel like they’re good enough or feel like they’re worthy of being loved or loving themselves that you are worth it, and you should celebrate your differences," she said. "Especially now with everything going on, it’s important to love each yother, to celebrate our differences and never be afraid to challenge poeple and show people why you are worth it, and why you are worth all the love in the world." 

Cara was one of many artists to take to the Global Citizen stage today in New York City to celebrate the fight for justice, liberty, and equality around the world.

Colleen Curry is a senior editor at Global Citizen. She has covered domestic and international news for outlets including ABC News, VICE News, and The New York Times, with a particular focus on women's issues, criminal justice, and LGBT rights. She is also pursuing her Master's in Creative Writing, and has had nonfiction published by Sports Illustrated and Marie Claire.

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