This year marks an extraordinary decade of Global Citizen Festival in New York City’s Central Park. 

Over the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands of Global Citizens have united on the Great Lawn to enjoy performances from the world’s biggest artists — from Pearl Jam and Beyoncé to Billie Eilish and Lizzo — and to see political and corporate leaders take meaningful action to achieve the end of extreme poverty. 

Since Global Citizen built its first stage in 2012, Global Citizens have taken over 30 million actions, leading to over US$40.1 billion in disbursed funding, impacting the lives of over 1.15 billion people. Many of those actions, and subsequently many of the commitments made on our festival stage, have revolved around the need to end world hunger.

Hunger will, once again, be emphasized during the 2022 Global Citizen Festival campaign, with festival events hosted in New York and Accra on Sept. 24. Alongside hunger, this year’s ambitious policy agenda will prioritize empowering girls and women, climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates.

With the 2022 campaign in full swing and the festival fast approaching, we thought we’d look back at some of the most inspiring hunger moments from festivals past. Read on below as we highlight some of the extraordinary activists and artists who stood up for ending world hunger with Global Citizen.

1. Sabrina Elba

Global Citizen Advocate and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Sabrina Elba joined Global Citizen for our mammoth 24-hour global broadcast, Global Citizen Live, in 2021. 

On stage in New York, Elba announced IFAD’s new pledge of US$23.7 million for 17 countries across the globe, including: Cameroon, Sri Lanka, Angola, Lesotho, Kenya, Nepal, Tonga, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Solomon Islands, Guyana, Republic of Korea, Maldives, Morocco, and Uzbekistan. 

"I'm thrilled to be a part of Global Citizen Live's fight to defend the planet and defeat poverty,” said Elba, who is now co-chair of the Global Citizen UK board, last September. “Climate change has wreaked havoc on many smallholder farmers and rural communities, reducing crop yields and creating food insecurity for millions. We're taking decisive action with Global Citizen to avert a hunger crisis and help the world's most disadvantaged communities.”

2. Abdullah Abdullah, Former CEO, Afghanistan

The government of Afghanistan made a historic commitment during Global Citizen Festival in New York City in 2018. 

Abdullah, the chief executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the time, announced that Afghanistan would be teaming up with the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver much-needed assistance to those affected by drought and famine in the crisis-hit country.

"A very happy Global Citizen Festival to all of you,” he said. “Leaders must step up and take ownership of their fellow citizens. Afghanistan is committing to supplying 60,000 tons of wheat flour worth US$18 million to the WFP to support the most severe drought-affected provinces in Afghanistan.”

3. Hugh Jackman, 4. Deborah Lee Furness & 5. No Kid Hungry Chief Communications Officer Clay Dunn

Iconic husband-and-wife duo and long-time Global Citizen Ambassadors Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness announced Citi’s commitment of 50 million meals to the nonprofit No Kid Hungry at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City in 2019.

"Globally, hunger affects 821 million people; it's not just a global issue, it's happening right here in our backyard,” Jackman said. “Eleven million kids — that's 1 in 7 in America — live with hunger in cities, towns, and suburbs throughout the country. Every one of us has a responsibility to be a part of this fight to end childhood hunger."

6. Saulos Chilima, Vice President of Malawi

It was way back in 2015 when Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima announced, via video message to 60,000 Global Citizens, that Malawi, along with a range of other African nations, had adopted a series of agriculture goals set to improve the health and nutrition of its 19 million people. 

"Malawi stands ready to meet the United Nations’ Global Goals. We will not only achieve food and nutrition security for citizens, but also reduce the rates of stunting to 10% and underweight to 5% by 2024, six years before the Global Goals [target].”

7. Global Citizen Advocate Bonang Matheba

Producer, model, television presenter, and philanthropist Bonang Matheba took to the stage at Global Citizen Live to announce The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and UNICEF's monumental commitments toward fighting global hunger. 

"As the grandfather of my home country Nelson Mandela once said, it always seems impossible until it is done,” Matheba said. “Global Citizens, we have a lot of work to do, especially when it comes to hunger. The CIFF are making a grant of US$50 million to UNICEF for urgent prevention and treatment efforts across the globe. UNICEF is matching this, with an additional US$50 million.”

8. Global Citizen Festival Host Chelsea Handler 

In the lead-up to the 2016 Global Citizen Festival, festival co-host, comedian, actress, writer, television host, and producer Chelsea Handler urged Global Citizens worldwide to make their voices heard by tweeting Italy's Prime Minister. Handler hoped Italy would respond by announcing millions to help lift people out of hunger.

"We need you to tweet Italian Prime Minister Mateo Renzi a picture of yourself, preferably in clothes, eating dinner,” Handler said. “Please include the following message: I get to eat this, but 795 million people are hungry. Will Italy pledge to end hunger at the Global Citizen Festival?"

9. Musician & Activist Angélique Kidjo

At Global Citizen Live in Paris, legendary musician and activist Angélique Kidjo made a stirring speech calling on Global Citizens to turn their backs on the politicians who have turned their backs on the world. Global Citizen Live called for wealthy countries to deliver $6 billion for famine relief. At the end of the campaign, more than US$1.1 billion in commitments were made for climate, famine, and COVID-19 response efforts.

"If [world leaders] don’t financially support the WFP to help lift millions of people out of famine, are we going to accept it, or are we going to turn our backs on them?” Kidjo said.

Kidjo will join us again this year as a special guest at Global Citizen Festival: NYC on Sept. 24.  

10. Chef & Activist Antoni Porowski 

During Global Goal: Unite for Our Future in 2020, chef and Queer Eye food and wine guru Antoni Porowski discussed the rise in global hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic and called on Global Citizens to take action to ensure all people receive adequate nutrition. 

Already, 820 million people worldwide experience hunger and malnutrition,” Porowski said. “COVID-19 and its disruptions to supply chains, farming, and livelihoods have the potential to push an extra 130 million people to the brink of starvation. It’s unimaginable. We need to unite and call on leaders to support sustainable food supply chains and ensure the most at risk, particularly children, receive essential nutrition.”

11. WFP Executive Director David Beasley & 12. US Senator Chuck Schumer

US Senator Chuck Schumer committed to defend the planet at Global Citizen Live in New York City. During the same stage moment, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme David Beasley announced major commitments from sponsors to tackle world hunger. 

"If we do not act today, millions will starve, nations will destabilize, and millions will migrate by necessity,” Beasley said. “If we are struggling today with a population of over 7 billion, what do you expect will happen when we are in a world of over 10 billion people by 2050?” 

13. Poet Alhanislam

Poet Maryam Bukar Hassan, known as Alhanislam, delivered a moving spoken-word piece at Global Citizen Live in Lagos, that addressed climate change, famine, and injustice. The poem, "Conscience," also delved into the "vices that fester in our communities." 

"Are you scared? In the whirlwind, I remembered, didn't we see him yesterday as he yawned and his body like a sack of bones looked like it was going to crumble. We had that conversation. I told her to offer that plate of food, but being illogical, she said that would not cure five years of hunger. I shrugged and wandered abject poverty. You see how it rhymes with poetry?"

Global Citizen Festival is calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before to End Extreme Poverty NOW. Through our global campaign and with stages in two iconic locations — NYC’s Central Park and Accra’s Black Star Square — we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizens around the world on Sept. 24 to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates. Wherever you are in the world, you can join the campaign and take action right now by downloading the Global Citizen app.

Global Citizen Life

Defeat Poverty

10 Years of Global Citizen Festival: 13 Artists, Activists & Leaders Who Stood Up for Ending World Hunger

By Madeleine Keck