Hordes of poverty and green campaigners from groups representing hundreds of thousands of people will join the largest British event to confront the global economic crisis this weekend.
The free, all-day event will take place exactly a month before many thousands of demonstrators march for jobs, justice and the planet in the run-up to the UK hosting a crunch summit of the G20 group of leading economies in London.
More than 1400 people have already booked places at Six Billion Ways, named after the world’s population.
The event comes as the crisis increases unemployment and poverty while threatening the lives of millions of people through rich nations’ failure to tackle climate change.
It will take place this Saturday (28 February) with 20 debates on topics including activism, multinationals’ abuse and Palestine, films on themes such as democracy and free speech, theatre, information stalls, fair trade goods and books.
Seb Klier, a 6 Billion Ways organiser, said: “Many people angered over a crisis sparked by politicians’ free-market policies and bankers’ self-interest are determined to press for positive change. This special day will enable them to exchange ideas on how we can build a better world based on need, not greed.”
The International Labour Organisation predicts that the number of jobless could rise this year by up to 30 million, compared to 2007, and 50 million if the crisis deepens, with the figure for the working poor soaring to 1.4 billion.
And the World Bank says the slump could throw 53 million more people into poverty.
The day has been arranged by anti-poverty trio War on Want, the Jubilee Debt Campaign and the World Development Movement, as well as Friends of the Earth, the students’ network People & Planet, the Muslim charity City Circle and the cultural organisation Rich Mix.
They warn of worse economic troubles unless British prime minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders ditch the free market system that caused the crisis in favour of policies which benefit poor people and the environment.
Among the Six Billion Ways speakers will be actor Colin Firth, human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzem Begg, activist comedian Mark Thomas, ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone, political scientist Susan George, Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan, South African campaigner Trevor Ngwane and Meena Rahman, general Secretary of Sahabat Alam Malaysia/Friends of the Earth Malaysia.
The event will use three east London venues - Rich Mix, Amnesty International and Shoreditch town hall.
Anyone can register for a place on the event website: http://www.6billionways.org.uk/ or turn up on the day at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA