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Leaders at Davos Must Address the Critical Issues the World Faces -- Call from Civil Society Leaders

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To the political and business leaders gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos:

As representatives of civil society organizations attending the World Economic Forum, we are writing to urge you to ensure that the following issues of critical global importance are central to discussions at the forum and that, as per its stated purpose, the forum helps to deliver the insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to them.

1. Securing a safer world: As the forum takes place thousands of innocent people in Syria, including many children, continue to die. As vital peace talks kick off in Geneva, the crisis in Syria emphasises why we must work together to guarantee both immediate humanitarian access and aid, as well as secure long-term solutions to end crises -- especially in Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan -- and find ways to prevent future outbreaks of conflict and violence.

2. Picking up the pace on development and setting ambitious goals for the future: In 2000, the world agreed the Millennium Development Goals with the aim of reducing extreme poverty by 2015. We have witnessed significant progress, but, with less than 800 days to go to the 2015 deadline many goals are off track. Failure to achieve the goals translates into children and women dying from preventable causes and in childbirth, and millions of people living in poverty without enough food or water. We need the leaders at Davos to get behind efforts to finish the job on the MDGs and engage fully in discussions around the next set of development goals in order to help eradicate extreme poverty for good.

3. Tackling inequality: In this changing world, rising inequality is a potent challenge. The top 5 percent of the world's population is understood to have over 37% of global income, whilst the bottom 5 percent has less than 0.2 percent. As the IMF and the World Economic Forum itself have highlighted inequality is a fundamental obstacle to sustained economic growth. Leaders at Davos must recognise the importance of addressing inequality and ensure it is at the heart of future development efforts.

4. Creating a liveable climate for all: We cannot eradicate poverty without addressing climate change, which is hitting the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. 2014 will be a crucial year to mobilize action ahead of global climate negotiations in 2015. Leaders at Davos should be clear in their commitment to ensuring a bold climate deal is delivered. The private sector leaders at Davos have a particularly critical role to play in leading the way to a low-carbon, climate-change resilient future. The new climate partnerships expected to be launched at Davos must also drive action at scale and have governments at their heart.

5. Investing in young people's potential: Young people are shaping our world but they need support to ensure they have the education, training and opportunities to do so and a safe environment to thrive in. The Forum is an opportunity for leaders to identify new ways of working together to create the jobs and opportunities needed and help deliver a world where every young person is protected from violence, gender discrimination and the absence of opportunity.

To deliver all the above, we need responsible government, responsible business and new ideas where old ones have failed. Davos is a unique opportunity to display this in practice. As civil society organisations we look forward to being active partners in the process.

Kind regards,

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson, BRAC, BRAC International and BRAC University
Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO, Islamic Relief Worldwide
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director Oxfam International
Nigel Chapman, Chief Executive Officer, Plan International
Kumi Naidoo Executive Director Greenpeace International
Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General, Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Jasmine Whitbread, CEO, Save the Children International