Dozens of musicians, artists, and entertainers around the world have signed an open letter demanding that world leaders, businesses, and Global Citizens everywhere empower women and girls, break systemic barriers that keep people in poverty, and take urgent climate action. 

The launch of the letter coincided with the inaugural Global Citizen NOW thought leadership summit in New York City on Sunday, and is in support of Global Citizen’s year-long End Extreme Poverty NOW — Our Future Can’t Wait campaign. 

Focusing on the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on efforts to eliminate the causes and consequences of extreme poverty, the letter calls on wealthy nations “to close the financing gap” of $3.5 trillion in annual funding to achieve the United Nations’ Global Goals.

The artists who signed the letter include 5 Seconds of Summer, Adam Lambert, Alessia Cara, Alok, Bill Nye, Billie Eilish, Billy Porter, Bridget Moynahan, Camilo, Cathy Freeman, Charlie Puth, Chloe x Halle, Coldplay, Connie Britton, Criolo, Cyndi Lauper, Deborra-lee Furness, DJ Cuppy, Dikembe Mutombo, DJ Cuppy, Duran Duran, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Femi Kuti, FINNEAS, Hugh Jackman, Lali, Lang Lang, Loren Gray, Made Kuti, MÅNESKIN, Muzi, Nancy Isime, Nile Rodgers, Nomzamo Mbatha, Padma Lakshmi, Rachel Brosnahan, Ricky Martin, Sabrina Elba, Shawn Mendes, and Tropkillaz. 

“We’re calling for leaders to step up by fully committing the funding necessary to tackle the challenges we face,” the letter says. “We need to improve opportunities for girls around the world, address the systemic barriers that keep people in poverty, and halt the climate crisis. But we can only succeed at addressing these issues by eliminating the barriers that have prevented us to end extreme poverty and committing to financing levels that will allow for real sustainable progress and not just a temporary fix.” 

The open letter was announced on Day One of Global Citizen NOW, an urgent gathering to defeat poverty and protect the planet bringing together 200 leaders across the private sector, advocacy, entertainment, government, and philanthropy. The letter carries particular significance in the run-up the the G7 summit taking place in Germany at the end of June, where pressure is growing for world leaders to step up to meet the global challenges we face.

No setback to the fight to end extreme poverty has been greater than the COVID-19 pandemic. The severe economic disruptions of the past two years have sent more than 100 million people into extreme poverty, wiping away six years of progress. An estimated 45 million people could face starvation this year unless immediate interventions are made. 

As a result of these and other crises, the financing gap to achieve the UN’s Global Goals has risen to a total of $3.5 trillion, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Closing this gap requires a mix of bilateral and multilateral foreign aid, domestic resource mobilization, and corporate and private philanthropy.  

While that seems like a lot of money, it’s just a fraction of the $94 trillion global economy and just 1% of the more than $300 trillion held as private wealth worldwide. Investment in the Global Goals — which include alleviating poverty, ending hunger, and supporting girls’ education — also generates financial returns. For example, every $1 invested in girls’ rights and education yields $2.80 in local economic activity, according to the World Economic Forum

More important than financial returns, however, is the simple truth that nobody should be living in extreme poverty, struggling to get food, or experiencing injustice in a world with enough wealth and resources to provide a quality standard of living for all. 

“The poorest people on our planet continue to suffer,” the open letter says. “They lack access to food, health care, and education. They deal with the realities of climate change — unending drought in some places, flooding, and rising sea levels in others. They are unable to put food on the table, unable to access basic medicines and health care, unable to access financing or equity, and therefore unable to offer their children a better future.”

Our people and our planet are suffering now. So we must act now. No more pushing urgent action down the line. No more promises and pledges. The time to fully fund the future is today.

Wealthy countries, such as those in the G7 and G20, have to step up, the open letter argues, and the End Extreme Poverty NOW campaign amplifies this rallying cry.

There’s still time to realize a sense of shared responsibility and global solidarity. The End Extreme Poverty NOW campaign has three main pillars: breaking the systemic barriers that trap people in poverty, starting with ending the COVID-19 pandemic; taking meaningful climate action; and empowering young women and adolescent girls around the world. And we can’t achieve any of this without defending advocacy — activists must be free to agitate, journalists must be free to report, and advocacy groups must be able to amplify the voices of the most marginalized people. 

“Our people and our planet are suffering now,” the open letter says. “So we must act now. No more pushing urgent action down the line. No more promises and pledges. The time to fully fund the future is today.”

You can read the full letter and take action by adding your name right now.

You can join the End Extreme Poverty NOW — Our Future Can't Wait campaign by signing up as a Global Citizen (either here or by downloading the Global Citizen app) and joining us in taking action now. Head here to sign our End Extreme Poverty NOW open letter, calling on world leaders to step up to break systemic barriers, take climate action, and empower girls. 


Demand Equity

Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Femi Kuti & More Sign Open Letter Urging World Leaders to End Extreme Poverty NOW

By Joe McCarthy