The Urgency of Now

Posted: 25 July 2008

Author: Duncan Green and Isobel Allen. Oxfam Publishing, 2008, paperback £3.99

Author Info: Duncan Green has been Head of Research at Oxfam GB since 2004. Previously a Senior Policy Adviser on Trade & Development at the UK's Department for International Development, Policy Analyst on trade and globalisation at CAFOD, Head of Research and Engagement at the Just Pensions project on socially responsible investment. He is the author of several books on Latin America.Isobel Allen is a freelance writer and communications expert specialising in making development issues come alive for non-specialist audiences. She worked for Oxfam GB from 1999-2007, promoting Oxfam's award-winning Development Education programme in the UK.

A small book about the madness of inequality and poverty: how they're wrecking people's lives and why sorting them out will make things better for us all.

Not a week seems to pass without a news story about a devastating natural disaster, the impact of the global food crisis, or the damage that will be done if we don't reduce our carbon footprint. While many of us do our bit - donating to charity and recycling - we are often left wondering whether our contributions really help and whether there is anything more we could and should be doing? In short, the answer is yes.

The Urgency of Now jacket
The Urgency of Now jacket
Compact, concise and yet at the same time, hard-hitting, The Urgency of Now outlines the fundamental problems that face our world today and shows how, why and what we as individuals, must do to make a difference.

First, we must get to the root of the problem. Taking its lead from the more in depth analysis that can be found in Oxfam's flagship publication, From Poverty to Power, The Urgency of Now makes the case that inequality, rather than poverty, is at the heart of the crisis: the sense of powerlessness, exclusion from decision-making processes and a lack of access to public services such as health and education.

The solution is nothing short of a radical redistribution of opportunities, assets and power. From the problem with billionaires to the millions of 'missing' women in Asia, from how we tackle climate change to the ways in which fairer trade rules can encourage sustainable growth, this thought-provoking book challenges us to re-examine our own views and, more importantly, to take action.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote: 'the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.' Now, with the threat of economic insecurity and the irreparable effects of climate change hanging over all of us, regardless of race, riches or where we are in the world, the time has come for us to stop passing the buck and take responsibility.

We must speak out in favour of justice and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those struggling for change. The urgency of now is both provocative and persuasive, motivating us to talk about the issues raised in this book, campaign and lobby governments, and encourage others to join us. In doing so, we can be one step closer to making the world a better place.