GC LIVE! : $214M of Commitments, Set To Reach 215M Lives
Just think what we could all achieve by Sept 23
Photo credit: Meron Menghistab for Global Citizen
Tonight, world leaders, artists and Global Citizens gathered at the Skirball Center in New York for an intimate evening centered around the power of activism. GC LIVE! served as an auspicious start to GC Week, Global Citizen’s first ever week long takeover of New York city; with 23 commitments and announcements declared on stage, that totaled over $214 million USD and are set to affect over 215 million lives of the world’s most vulnerable. Which means we’re all set to achieve unprecedented impact in Central Park on Sept 23. And we could not have done it without the well over one million actions taken by Global Citizens like you.
The night certainly did not lack star power with the likes of “Game of Thrones” actor Nikolai Coster-Waldau hosting, the legendary Annie Lennox performing with Dhani Harrison just after being announced as the George Harrison Award Honoree for her life-time commitment to humanitarian work, and surprise guest and superstar activist Michael Moore rocking it out onstage next to Tom Morello.
Yet it was the commitments made on the stage which will have the most lasting impact for all around the world. The show was packed with key players in the fight against poverty — three Prime Ministers and many more NGO, governmental and business heads.
Norway’s leader, Erna Solberg, introduced on the night by CEO and Global Citizen founder Hugh Evans, as “one of the most passionate and committed” advocates tackling poverty, stepped up first with a major commitment to tackle the issue of menstrual hygiene management. The Prime Minister announced that the country would contribute to sexual and reproductive health services including comprehensive sexuality education for 170 million young people. An auspicious start, and there was much more to come.
Funky Dawgs Brass Band jazz up the reception.
The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, made another stigma busting announcement when he stepped on stage to declare that as one of the first openly gay heads of government in the world, he is a fierce supporter of issues that disproportionately affect the LGBT community. Luxembourg’s leader used his platform to call upon global citizens to work with him to ensure that “all people with HIV are treated with the respect, dignity, and humanity they deserve.”
Another key theme of the night were the number of sustainable and innovative solutions announced by leaders to tackle some of the most major crises the planet faces today.
In response to a crisis that sees 75 million children out of school due to conflict and disaster, Global Citizen has been running a campaign for over a year to ensure children in emergency situations receive an education. In the past few months alone, Global Citizens have taken 73,900 actions on the issue and last night H.E. Dr Thani Ahmey Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the UAE, responded to our cry. The minister declared that he was on the stage thanks to the “passionate calls, signed petitions and tweets” from Global Citizens — including CHIME FOR CHANGE co-founder Salma Hayek-Pinault — before announcing a $50 million commitment in renewable energy aid and another $10 million in humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
This pledge will go toward rebuilding the devastated countries — starting with Antigua and Barbuda — so they can restore public services, business operations and critically, get kids back into school as quickly as possible. Rodney E.L. Williams the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda was also in attendance and responded with a powerful rallying cry that served as a warning to us all.
“Climate change does not respect borders; it does not respect who you are – famous or not-so-famous, rich or poor. It is a global threat, which requires global solidarity. The only global solidarity is to recognize that we are all Global Citizens.” — Rodney E.L.Williams, Governor General Antigua and Barbuda
In a world where 800 million go to bed hungry every night, and 20 million are on the brink of starvation in the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, innovative solutions are clearly urgently needed. The Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, announced the second significant investment into innovation of the night and committed to doubling the country’s investment into humanitarian research & innovation — from $10 million this year, to $20 million next year.
In the lead up to the Global Citizen Week, Global Citizens took over 67,000 actions to ensure that governments and companies stepped up for global health security. Thus the next future facing investment of the night came from another Global Citizen partner, Johnson & Johnson, who committed on the stage to accelerate the development of a Zika vaccine to cessate the rapid spread of this virus that is now reported in 84 countries and territories across the world.
And to fully cement the theme of innovation, Global Citizen Wilma Rodrigues was announced as the Waislitz award winner, and given $100,000 in order to scale her organization Sahaas Zero Waste.
Tom Morello rocks it out on stage. Photo credit: Meron Menghistab for Global Citizen.
Alongside investing in finding new ways to tackle poverty, there were a series of commitments made by world leaders set to assume significant global leadership roles in the coming 12 months, who made concrete pledges on what they would put onto the global agenda.
Alistair Burt, the UK minister of state for international development, speaking on behalf of the UK, as the incoming chair of the Commonwealth, committed to put "ending gender inequality" on the Commonwealth Summit agenda in 2018, and commended Global Citizen's Level the Law campaign to tackle gender discriminatory laws. In a world where over 150 countries have at least one law that is discriminatory toward women, this is an urgently needed step towards a more equal world.
The Foreign Minister for Argentina Jorge Faurie also committed on behalf of his country as the host of next year’s G20 summit, to use their G20 presidency to encourage other world leaders to prioritize education. The foreign minister also committed to support the Global Partnership for Education replenishment in 2018 — which if fulfilled will ensure the education of 870 million children in 89 of the world’s poorest countries. This commitment comes in response to a two-year campaign by Global Citizen and over 160,000 actions taken by Global Citizens in the past few months alone asking world leaders to answer GPE’s replenishment call.
Finally, Ugandan MP, Bobi Wine, also known as ‘His Excellency the Ghetto President’ due to his firsthand experience of poverty from childhood and his self expressed strong identification with the most marginalized, promised to use his platform as an elected official to hold the government accountable to its promises. The ‘ghetto president’ committed that on his return home he would campaign to deliver better healthcare for all Ugandans and stated his commitment to ensuring that the country increases health spending towards maternal and child health care by 50%, after an overall increase of 15%.
George Harrison Award Honoree Annie Lennox closed the evening with not only a breath-taking performance but a powerful invocation to the activist in all of us, and critically an antidote to the despair that we are all vulnerable to in these trying times:
“Here’s what you can do just as one person… Inform yourself… Choose a cause to which you can give your commitment. Support an organisation and join them...Donate what you can afford, or persuade others to raise money, speak up, write, march… Just do something! And if you’re listening to this and you haven’t already done so, go to the Global Citizen website and take your first step into transformative change through positive action.”
Hear these words. See the impactful results of tonight. And believe, that together, we will end poverty. For Freedom. For Justice. For All.