Class of 2015 – promising but must keep concentration!

It's been a whirlwind of activity in New York.  To give you an idea of the crazy week we have had out here, this is a snapshot of what I’ve seen and done…

8.30 in a taxi with bollywood movie star Rahul Bose talking about the progress on education and health in India.  Followed swiftly by briefing with Kristen Davis making the comparison of the 700 billion dollar bank bail out all over the media this week, and the mere 50 billion the G8 promised to poverty eradication and have still not delivered on.

Next, a big but crowded room where 4.5 billion dollars was committed specifically to getting more kids into school, and where Bono solemnly pledged to continue to be a pain in the bum if leaders did not keep their promise. Ok, so he may have worded it a bit more colourfully…. At this event, the Global Campaign for Education invited leaders, companies and activists to be part of their ‘class of 2015’ and to step up progress on getting all kids into school.  And definite progress was made here with some new money being put on the table.

Sneaking across the hall to find out what was happening on malaria, and hearing 3 billion dollars being pledged for bed nets and medicines.

Then on to a smaller and even more crowded room where governments and companies pledged to take action to save the lives of millions of women dying needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth every year.

Some of you have already taken action on this crucial issue back at home, to make sure your leaders got the message before they come to New York.  For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to be involved, take a look at these flashmob videos on YouTube to see what your fellow campaigners in France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK have been up to. There is no doubt that thanks to many of you this issue was taken very seriously in New York.

That’s a lot of billions and a lot of activity I hear you say. So what’s the result of the whirlwind?

Most of the money pledged in New York for health, education, water and sanitation by rich countries was not new money.  So those billions sound impressive, but it mostly money that rich governments have already promised before.  And frankly that’s disappointing.

But these same leaders did make more specific pledges to invest their money in the right ways – in getting children into school, saving women and children’s lives, and getting taps and toilets for all people.  And that’s impressive.  There is definitely something to celebrate. So this is a massive thank you to all of you who have taken action – it made a difference.

So our verdict.  This was a great boost to keeping governments focused on health, education, water and sanitation for all.  Let’s hope the class of 2015 can keep its concentration up so we can give them all an A in 7 years time!

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