The 10th anniversary of the Global Citizen Festival, which included performances from Metallica, Mariah Carey and Usher, generated more than $2.4 billion in commitments to fight extreme poverty and disease.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and others addressed the crowds gathered in New York’s Central Park and Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana, for nine hours Saturday.
“Amidst all the doomsday messages we hear today, hope lies in the fact that millions of citizens are rising up to take action, more than any other point in history,” Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans said at the event. “Ending extreme poverty is not a partisan issue, and those most in need cannot be treated like political pawns. Our job is to not let our leaders forget that.”
What makes Global Citizen Festival different from other fundraisers is that tickets for the event are not for sale. To attend, supporters must volunteer time to take various actions – from signing petitions and calling or messaging world leaders on social media to address certain issues – during a six-week campaign. This year’s campaign generated more than two million actions, more than doubling the previous record for the advocacy nonprofit.
International leaders announced new policies at the festival, influenced, in part, by Global Citizen supporters. French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that he would reallocate 30% of his country’s Special Drawing Rights reserves with the International Monetary Fund to the world’s poorest countries, specifically in Africa, to help them fund projects battling extreme poverty and climate change. The governments of Ghana and South Africa announced the formation of the $1 billion African Prosperity Fund, to finance infrastructure, technology and sustainability projects across the continent.
Rotary International President Jennifer Jones announced a $150 million, three-year commitment to fight polio through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, part of the service organization’s work against the disease since 1985.
“Quite honestly, until everyone is protected, no one is protected,” Jones told The Associated Press in an interview. “And we see now with the state of emergency being declared in New York and the case of vaccine-derived polio that has entered here, it’s close to home. I think it’s a little bit of an alarm bell to a lot of people who thought, ‘Well, this is something that’s gone. Why do we even need to immunize our children?’”
Jones said she wanted to announce Rotary International’s new commitment at Global Citizen Festival’s 10th anniversary because the organization made a similar announcement at the first festival.
“They have millions and millions of Global Citizens and we have 1.4 million citizens who are people of action, who are doing things every single day in the field,” Jones said. “So the ability for us to take our activated populations and showcase that we want to help and help people understand what they can do to make a difference, it’s just a great synergy between our two organizations.”