If you do one thing this year to help others, what will it be?

“2015 is going to be a big year!” That’s the cry from the rooftops of most NGOs, governments and UN agencies at the moment. Some are saying it’s going to be a once in a generation opportunity to make real progress on some of the issues that affect all of us. Even the more cynical would have to agree that 2015 is another chance to set the world on a course for mutual appreciation, rather than mutual destruction.

What’s all the fuss about? Well, largely it’s about three meetings. But these three are at the end of a series of other meetings that make up an itinerary similar to a gap year world tour.

The three big meetings kick off in July in Ethiopia, where our governments will meet to decide how they are going to finance future work on global development including water, sanitation and hygiene. 

Next, they’ll all go to New York, to decide a framework for this work. This will be called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will run from 2015 – 2030 and which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which ran from 2000 – 2015. We want water and sanitation to be right at the top of the list. And finally, they’ll go to Paris, where they'll hopefully come up with an agreement on how to tackle climate change which has a disproportionate effect on the poorest people in the world.       

How does all this fit together? Well, as Kevin Watkins from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has commented, “The 2015 summits are linked. An ambitious agreement at the Addis financing conference will provide momentum for the dialogue on the sustainable development goals, which will in turn create an impetus ahead of the critical climate talks.”

But if this all seems like civil servants meeting to decide our fate, don’t forget that civil society has a voice – you (and I!) have a voice. The question is do you want to use it? Many, many people and organizations from all over the planet are gathering around the Action 2015 campaign (www.action2015.org.) FRANK Water is one of them. And it seems fitting that 2015 marks FRANK Water's tenth anniversary - another reason for us to make some noise and take action. 

Action 2015 quite rightly says that: 

“As we move towards 2015, we know three critical things:  

First - the world is off track for ending poverty, tackling inequality and avoiding dangerous climate change. 

Second - it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the tools, knowledge and resources to fix some of our greatest challenges. 

Third – campaigning can be impactful. “

So, if campaigning and action can work, what is it that we can do?

Good question. Firstly, check out the Action 2015 website and / or sign up for FRANK Water’s newsletter (below) – this will keep you up to date with what’s being organised centrally. 

Then, maybe print off the blueprint letter from the Action 2015 website and, if you agree with it, send it to your local MP. If he/she doesn’t respond, go and visit them and ask them what they are doing about these issues? Have they brought it up with their party?

Next, check out your local NGOs (like FRANK Water) to see if they are having any meetings or gathering to catch the public (and politicians!) attention – if they are, join them! If you live in the UK, remember in May we have a general election so this is a good year to get your voice heard.

If all that sounds too energetic, remember, there are ways you can impact on some of these issues at home. Make your house (and your life) greener and maybe give a little to a charity (maybe money, maybe time, maybe skills).

Lastly, I would say that 2015 is a big year - but more importantly, today is a big day. 

If you do one thing this year to help others, what will it be?

Today is 2015! Act now!