People who object to their government’s policies may gather together to protest. But many issues, such as DEBT and the ENVIRONMENT, affect people across the globe. In the 1990s, global protest groups emerged, uniting voices of protest from all nations.
Cheaper travel and improvements in communications, such as the development of the Internet, have made it easier for people from different countries—already united by shared opinions—to meet and plan political action or demonstrations.
By questioning decisions made or actions taken by world leaders and big business, protesters can draw other people into a wider discussion of the issue. This democratic debate can influence global as well as national decisions. Protesters can also share knowledge with others about how such issues affect their own countries.
Although global protests express many different concerns, an issue at the root of many protests is equality. For example, some protesters feel that people in poor countries are treated unfairly in the global community, because international rules are made by powerful countries to help their own economies.
Wealthy countries have loaned money to the governments of poor countries. As a result, the world’s poorest people have to make payments on a $2.5 trillion debt, on top of the cost of basic survival. This makes it difficult for the poor to escape poverty.
About five percent of the debt of developing countries has been canceled by wealthy countries. In return for this, countries in debt had to agree to open their economies to the global market. People fighting to reduce such debt want more of it canceled faster, with fewer controls placed on the countries in debt.
Companies desperate to compete in the global market often do not respect the natural world, or the environment. Protesters campaign to protect the environment from human damage, such as pollution or habitat destruction, by setting up international controls.
In the past, Western countries have often achieved wealth by using up natural resources such as coal or forests, without considering the future effects on the environment. Sustainable development aims for growth that works with nature rather than against it—for example, replanting logging areas with new trees.