The Big Issues

What kind of rules are we talking about? The laws, policies, practices and beliefs that have largely been made by the few, for the few. The ones that create huge gaps between the rich and poor, and don’t work for the majority of the world.


Each year African countries receive $100 billion in aid but lose $160 billion to big companies that don't pay their fair share of tax.


Many of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people and companies are using offshore banking and secret tax havens to dodge taxes – in some cases making huge profits in countries where they pay barely any tax at all. When the wealthy don’t pay their fair share, the burden falls on those who can least afford it. Basic services like schools and healthcare crumble or rely on charity to survive at all. This isn’t how we built prosperity in wealthy countries, and it’s not how we’ll build prosperity in poor countries either.


In the last ten years, overseas investors bought 200 million hectares of land in the world’s poorest countries - that's the size of Mexico!


Right now, the wealthy and powerful are competing for control of land, water and other natural resources all over the world. This competition threatens the lives and livelihoods of those of us who need these resources to survive and thrive – especially women; with many rural communities being forced off land that is rightfully theirs.

Land is not just another commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. People cannot build a secure future without rights to land. As competition for land and resources grows, the rules must be changed to recognize this as a basic right for all people.


Scientists warn we are near the tipping point when climate change could become unstoppable – and could cause massive harm, especially to the world’s poor.


Natural disasters are increasing and extreme weather events are becoming common – just as scientists predicted. Powerful nations and business interests have blocked action to curb the most devastating impacts of climate change. Climate change is accelerating putting the lives and livelihoods of millions at risk.

We must break the deadlock and bring the world together around a new set of rules that account for the true costs of climate change and provide relief to the world’s poorest countries who are in the front line of its early impacts.


For every $1 a rich country gives to the poorest countries in Africa, it gives $8 in subsidies to the big agricultural businesses that prevent African farmers from trading on world markets.


While global trade should be a positive force for reducing poverty, certain rules are making poverty worse by only benefiting rich countries. For instance, wealthy nations put heavy tariffs on imports that stop producers in lower-income countries from being able to sell their goods on global markets. Wealthy countries also heavily subsidize many of their own industries – from cotton to corn.

The rules of global trade are too often unjustly stacked against poor countries. The rules must change so farmers in all countries can access global markets on fair terms.


Just 500 companies control 70 per cent of the food we eat. That’s like the same companies deciding everything we eat from Monday to Friday.


Nearly a billion people in the world are short of food – not because there’s not enough to go around, but because the food system is geared to create short-term profits instead of a long-term, reliable and healthy food supply. We need to break the control on our food held by rich countries, multinationals and other powerful elites, and make sure the rules are designed to benefit everyday people everywhere.


Corruption and other criminal activities drain an estimated $1.6 trillion a year from lower income economies. That's more than ten times what is spent on aid globally.


Corruption happens when groups or individuals use special position or power to serve their own interests at the expense of the public. This transfers wealth from everyone else to a powerful few. It undermines real jobs and investment, and hits poor families the hardest. It’s time to get together and get serious about demanding fair and transparent governance. Together, we can change the spoken and unspoken rules that allow the abuse of power to continue.


Access to basic health services would save a child from dying every four seconds.


A healthy population, with access to maternal health care, vaccinations and treatment for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, is fundamental to a thriving, productive and fair society. We can improve the lives of millions of people when we change the rules that restrict access to good health services in our communities.


Across the world, women work twice as many hours as men. Yet for every dollar men get, women get 10 cents.


Women are the most powerful force for positive change and development around the world. Yet old rules, written and unwritten, still restrict our freedom to learn, to work, to own property and to live as equal and full citizens. Changing those rules, practices and behaviors will unlock vast potential and transform the world as we know it.


$16 billion is enough to give every child in the developing world an education. That’s half of what Americans and Europeans spend on ice cream each year.


A good education is essential for every person to achieve her or his potential in the 21st century. Rules that give every person access to a good education are the foundation for a strong economy and a healthy, productive society. Our governments have an obligation to provide access to a decent education, but we must also ensure the right environment that allows us to benefit from this education.