Global Citizens asked and world leaders answered — with billions of dollars in commitments to tackle the world’s most pressing global issues, such as climate change, famine, and vaccine inequality.

It’s all because of Global Citizen Live, the 24-hour broadcast special that brought together artists, activists, and world leaders for a once-in-a-generation event on Saturday, Sept. 25. Filmed around the globe — including all seven continents and the international space station — the show made sure the world’s most pressing issues were at the forefront of world leaders’ conversations.

Because of Global Citizens everywhere taking action to defend the planet and defeat poverty, world leaders listened. 

More than US$1.1 billion, 157 million trees, and over 60 million COVID-19 vaccines were announced during Global Citizen Live, thanks to partnerships between government, philanthropy, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. We all worked together to make the world a more equitable place for all, but there's still so much more to do.

As part of the campaign, government leaders and heads of international organizations shared in the lead-up to Global Citizen Live what being a Global Citizen means to them and how they plan to show up for the world.

From the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel, here are 12 quotes from world leaders pledging their support for Global Citizen Live with their commitments to defend the planet and defeat poverty.

Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations

“A Global Citizen is any individual that has a global vision. Someone who can look beyond the national boundaries,” Ban said. “Climate change has affected every culture and stability of food systems, leading to hunger and poverty, that’s why they are all interconnected.”

“I am eager to welcome the commitments of G20 leaders, and also I hope all this funding will be pledged at the Global Citizen Live stage, and I count on your strong efforts,” he added. “I am asking young people to challenge their leaders — their local leaders and governmental leaders — asking them to leave planet Earth in a sustainable way.”

In 2017, Ban co-founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, which focuses on empowering women and young people around the world to achieve the UN’s Global Goals.

Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia

“Rarely, we have witnessed in such a short period of time that one issue, and this is certainly the pandemic of COVID-19, has literally affected the entire world,” Plenković said. “I think this is essentially what we are trying to do — the developed world helps other parts of the world: how to sustain, confront, and finally overcome the global threat such as the pandemic we have today.”

“There is no other choice. Until we address this issue everywhere across the world, we will not get rid of it so vaccination is the best way to do it. Vaccination is the best way to do it.”

Croatia has committed to donating an additional 200,000 doses of its share of COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX in support of vaccine equity.

Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg

“We live in a moment, in a situation, where we see that we have global problems, and the only solutions can be global too,” Bettel said. “Very often we are individualist. We think that we find national solutions, and we see that they are not efficient. COVID-19 is the best example, but climate change is another example. I could continue the list.”

“If we don’t see global, and we act local, we won’t get out of a crisis,” he added.

Luxembourg has pledged to make a $4.5 million commitment to UNFPA supplies.

Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain

“We are human beings, and we can never remain oblivious to the suffering of others, wherever they are,” Sanchez said. “Only by acting internationally and united will we be able to effectively defeat the serious challenge of COVID-19, and that unity extends to all the other objectives that Spain, Global Citizens, and other actors defend. We all have to collaborate if we aspire to stop the climate emergency or to defeat hunger. They are enormous tasks that demand pulling all possible forces.”

“All governments around the world, we must join forces immediately to at least try to mitigate these irreversible consequences. But, above all, we must work together to provide different forms of production and resource management, in order to implement from now on, a huge ecological transition. Next generations deserve our responsibility and our awareness.”

Spain has committed 7.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and 30 million euros to the Climate Fund.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

“Being a Global Citizen means caring about our planet, caring about all the people on our planet,” Pelosi said. “What is happening to the climate in terms of rising sea levels, encroachment of deserts, issues that relate to drying up of rivers, the solar management of the planet — all these things have an impact on the air our children breathe and the water they drink. It has an impact on the habitat in which they thrive.”

“We all know that we have a responsibility to future generations to preserve the planet and hand it down to future generations more safely,” she added. “I just have so much confidence in young people. They are hopeful, they are optimistic, they are determined, they care about the planet.”

The United States has pledged $295 million to stave off famine and extreme hunger, confront gender-based violence, and address the urgent humanitarian needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

“A Global Citizen is aware of the fact that we all share one planet, one health, one common destiny. And that every one of us matters. Everyone can make a difference, by working together, finding global solutions to global problems,” von der Leyen said. “And this is precisely the philosophy behind Global Citizen’s campaign—global goal—which I’m so proud to support.”

“We have the power to innovate, to act, and to make a change for the better. Every single action counts,” she added. “I will be pushing for more ambitious global targets at the next G20 summit and at the next UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, the COP26. The world needs to come together. Because we only have one planet, only one health, and it’s time we take care of it.”

Team Europe has announced a donation of 140 million euros to CGIAR, 25 million euros to Education Cannot Wait, and 500 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to support vaccine equity.

David Malpass, President of the World Bank

“For me, being a Global Citizen means recognizing that everyone’s living on the same planet and has some of the same objectives — that’s family, that’s community, that’s job, that’s education,” Malpass said. “And so we’re working to find ways to have solutions, recognizing that development isn’t happening everywhere.

He added: “We have to recognize the severity of the problem, with refugees, and right now with COVID-19, that argues for vaccination, for availability and access for everyone, because we’re all living on the same planet.”

Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

“To me, a Global Citizen means that you accept the fact that we are in this world together. That problems have to be solved multilaterally, that we have to take into consideration the effects that our actions will have on other people’s wellbeing and vice versa,” Solberg said. “We will have bigger possibilities for our children, our grandchildren to have more prosperous lives, if we now solve the climate problem. It will be more expensive, it will hurt the world more, more conflicts will arise, the wealth of the whole world will be lowered if we don’t solve the climate issues.”

“We need politicians and world leaders who are not lagging behind and not short-term focusing, but are looking at what really can, what really can do together in the long term to make sure that this earth survives as a good place for our children to live in,” she added.

Norway announced a major increase in their climate funding, committing $58 million over 10 years to their Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development (BOLD) Fund.

Meryame Kitir, Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation 

“Like the COVID-19 virus doesn't stop at the borders, the same is for climate change. All the climate effects — they also don't stop at the borders, and so the most vulnerable people are getting affected the most,” Kitir said. “What makes me optimistic is the solidarity between the people and the resilience of the people. You know, every drop counts and lots of people are taking action now.”

Belgium has pledged 6 million euros to the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research about food security, and 10 million euros to the UN’s Least Developed Countries Fund.

Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy

“Global Citizens understand that the welfare of their own country hinges on the welfare of the world. Unless we end the pandemic everywhere, we all face the risk of the emergence of new variants,” Draghi said. “Furthermore, we need to cut emissions. Accelerating climate change will be a danger for everyone. Desertification is a major threat for agriculture, and in turn malnutrition is a major health risk. Deforestation is pushing animals to live ever closer to humans, increasing the risk of new pandemics. These are truly global problems, and we must act decisively to address all of them.”

“Future generations risk paying the heinous price for our failings. If this happens, they will ask themselves a simple question: Why didn’t our parents act sooner to stop climate change? We must take action. We owe it to the citizens of today, and, above all, the citizens of tomorrow.”

Italy has committed to increasing their climate financing ahead of COP26, the UN's climate conference, to ensure that all countries are equipped to adapt to a changing climate.

Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy for Vaccines

“The issue for Africa is not money. It is about the fact that there are countries that have purchased enough vaccines for ten times their own population. There has been a hoarding of vaccines,” Masiyiwa said. “I know the vaccines are there now, and I want our share now. Vaccines are available. It’s all tied up in distribution contracts, that we are able to actually go and say to Europe, to Britain, to Canada, the United States: you have this contract, which you don’t need — can you release some of that capacity to us, so that we can also buy?”

“We are shipping vaccines every single day now. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Michael Martin, Prime Minister of Ireland

“There’s a wonderful Irish proverb, in Gaelic, which says 'Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine,' which means, we all live in each other’s shadow, and that’s our sort of philosophy, interdependence, we all have to look out for each other, globally,” Martin said.

“I think COVID-19 brought us closer to nature, closer to the idea of protecting our biodiversity, so that gives me the optimism, and the sense that there’s a window of opportunity here that we must grab to really deal comprehensively with the climate change threat,” he added. “I'm very happy to be here with Global Citizen Live to confirm my government's approach to the pandemic and the support we're giving globally.”

Ireland has committed to donating 1.3 million doses of their stock of COVID-19 vaccines this year to support vaccine equity, with plans to donate more in 2022.

You can join the Global Citizen Live campaign to defend the planet and defeat poverty by taking action here, and become part of a movement powered by citizens around the world who are taking action together with governments, corporations, and philanthropists to make change.


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