Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced a new €140 million commitment for food security ahead of Global Citizen Live, a once-in-a-generation, 24-hour global broadcast event that aired on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The ground-breaking commitment was made following an appearance on MSNBC show, Morning Joe, alongside Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans. The European Commission pledge came as the first official commitment as a result of the Global Citizen Live campaign, calling for urgent action to defend the planet and defeat poverty.

"The EU has stepped up," said Evans during the program. “The €140 million commitment is pledged to CGIAR, a global partnership of organizations dedicated to building food security. The funding will help the organization continue their work addressing rural poverty and transforming food, lands, and water systems during the climate crisis.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of millions of people were already suffering from hunger and malnutrition. The pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in resource-poor countries and disadvantaged communities, rapidly unravelling a decade of progress on hunger and leaving one in every nine people, or 821 million people worldwide, undernourished.

The pandemic has further stalled decades of progress on all 17 of the United Nations’ Global Goals — which work to end poverty and its systemic causes, such as gender and race inequalities, climate change, food insecurity, and more — pushing an estimated 150 million more people into extreme poverty globally.

Since the pandemic began, Global Citizen has urgently campaigned to mobilize millions of COVID-19 vaccines, and rally support to address the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on the world’s most vulnerable communities.

“NGOs like Global Citizen are kind of civil society at its best," said von der Leyen during her appearance on Morning Joe. "I like to work together with Global Citizen because they have a unique capacity and capability to unite people, rally for a good cause," she continued. "They nudge us, sometimes they push us hard but that's good — if we want to overcome the crisis, we have to team up.”

During the program, von der Leyen also highlighted Global Citizen’s efforts to hold global leaders accountable on commitments. “[Global Citizen] is also keeping track of what has been pledged and then has been delivered," she said. "You don't only want to have announcements, but you really need the delivery on the ground."

After any commitment is made during one of our major events or as a result of Global Citizen’s campaigning and Global Citizens all around the world taking action, Global Citizen holds commitment makers accountable, ensuring funds are allocated and received by beneficiaries on the front lines following strict accountability criteria.

During Global Citizen Live itself, von der Leyen reiterated the European Commission pledge, again announcing the €140 million pledge toward CGIAR on the stage of Global Citizen Live in Paris, in addition to a €25 million commitment to Education Cannot Wait, an organization dedicated to transforming the delivery of education in emergencies to children around the world.

“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,” said von der Leyen, in support of the campaign. “Everyone can make a difference, by working together, finding global solutions to global problems with unity, cooperation, and solidarity.”

Global Citizen Live was a 24-hour global broadcast event on Sept. 25 and 26, across seven continents, including cities such as: Lagos, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, and Sydney, and featuring performances from Elton John, Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, and dozens more artists and activists.

The 24-hour global broadcast saw announcements aimed at driving equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, climate change action, ending poverty, and addressing the growing hunger crisis. Over 60 million COVID-19 vaccines, 157 million trees, and more than US$1.1 billion was pledged during the event toward climate, famine, and the global COVID-19 response.

These commitments were thanks in part to the over 1 million actions taken by Global Citizens during the campaign, and to critical partnerships between government, philanthropy, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

The event is part of an ongoing campaign to defend the planet and defeat poverty, powered by citizens around the world who are taking action and urging governments to drive real, much-needed change ahead of the G20 and COP26 events later this year.

Global Citizen is calling on world leaders, businesses, and philanthropists to urgently commit resources to meet the $15-20 billion funding shortfall of the US$100 billion promised annually to the most vulnerable countries confronting climate change; on businesses to help curb emissions through joining the Race to Zero campaign and pledging 1 billion additional trees by 2022 in support of the 1t.org ambition to conserve, restore, and grow 1 trillion trees this decade; $6 billion to provide food to 41 million people facing famine; 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines to be redistributed to low-income countries by early 2022; and for Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna to share mRNA technology with the WHO-backed Africa mRNA vaccine hub.

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.


Defeat Poverty

European Commission Pledges Urgent Support to Food Security at Global Citizen Live

By Camille May