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Coldplay performs at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany on July 6, 2017.
Photo by Grey Hutton for Global Citizen

What Happened Since the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg?

On July 6, 2017, the eve of the G20 Summit, 11,000 Global Citizens, heads of government, leading politicians, companies, NGOs, artists, and music stars came together in Hamburg for the very first Global Citizen Festival in Germany. Together, we called on the G20 leaders to to deliver on their promises to the world’s poorest.

The evening featured high-ranking guests such as Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, and Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who shared the stage with international stars such as Herbert Grönemeyer, Coldplay, Shakira, Pharrell Williams, Ellie Goulding, Andreas Bourani, and many more. The evening was hosted by German TV icon Barbara Schöneberger, with support from Linda Zervakis, Demi Lovato, and Elyas M'Barek, among others.

On the day of the Festival, commitments and announcement worth a total of €638 million ($706 million) were made on the stage, which are set to affect the lives of 113 million people worldwide by 2030. This great success is due to the dedication of hundreds of thousands of Global Citizens around the world, who took 750,904 actions in total during the six months prior to the Festival.

A year later, we are checking on the pledges and commitments of the night. To what extent are governments, corporations, and foundations on track to deliver on their promises? Here’s a first overview:

Development Aid

At the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, representatives from the Christian Democratic Party (CDU/CSU), Social Democratic Party (SPD), Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), and the Left Party (DIE LINKE) pledged support for Germany to reach and maintain the UN target to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on development aid. So far, Germany has only reached 0.7% once in 2016, largely due to in-donor refugee costs which can be counted towards ODA for a limited time period.

Global Citizen welcomes that the commitment to 0.7% was enshrined in the coalition agreement of the new government of the CDU/CSU and the SPD, stating: “We will significantly increase our funding for development assistance, humanitarian aid, and crisis prevention. The achievement of the ODA quota of 0.7% is our goal.” It further outlined that a decline of the ODA quota must be prevented and that additional revenue will be spent as a priority on development and humanitarian aid and defense on a 1:1 basis.

In the first federal budget of the new government, which was approved by parliament in early July, the budget of the Development Ministry for 2018 increased significantly by €900 million to a total of €9.44 billion. According to the latest financial plans for 2019 budget released by the Finance Ministry, the development budget will further go up next year to €9.7 billion. Despite these increases, the investment is still too low to put Germany on track to achieve 0.7% within this legislative period and there is no timeline in place when the target will be met.

In addition, the five-year financial planning also shows that currently the promise of any additional revenue to be spent on development and humanitarian aid and defense equally on a 1:1 basis is not fulfilled. In the coming years defense spending is increasing year on year, while development and humanitarian aid is decreasing and stagnating from 2020 onwards.        

Global Citizen checked in with the parties who had given their pledge at the Hamburg Festival last year to hear what they are planning to ensure Germany will reach 0.7%:

Hermann Gröhe, Deputy parliamentary party leader of the CDU/CSU: "The CDU/CSU parliamentary group stands by the target to provide 0.7% of Germany’s gross national income for official development assistance. The coalition agreement clearly states that additional revenue will be used on a one-to-one basis for development policy and defense. That’s why during the federal budget negotiations in the German Bundestag, we will work to ensure that this important goal is adhered to. Already the significant increase in the budget for development in recent years demonstrates our political will to do so. This is the matter of Germany’s reliability and its responsibility for sustainable economic and social development in the world. For the people in developing countries, we are thereby contributing to better education and health, clean and safe water, food security, and good working conditions — to name just a few key areas of development cooperation."

Gabi Weber, Spokesperson for Development of the SPD: “Last year, Germany almost reached the ODA quota with 0.66%. After we have been able to significantly increase the quota by including costs for refugees, which however do not improve the living conditions in developing countries, the ODA quota is once again falling because of the decreasing number of refugees and it reaches its actual level below 0.60%. This needs to change - economic growth alone already requires increasing expenditure to maintain and even more so to increase the quota. The SPD remains committed to the goal of achieving the 0.7% target. We emphasized this in our election programme as well as in the coalition negotiations. We have agreed in the coalition treaty and we have proven it with the 2018 budget that the ODA quote must not decline in 2018 und that we are delivering on our international obligations to further increase the ODA quota. In addition we are aiming to reach the pledge to provide 0.15-0.2% of GNI to the poorest countries (LDCs) as soon as possible.”

Katrin Göring-Eckart, parliamentary party leader of the Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen): "The adherence of the 0.7% target for global development cannot be a flash in the pan. The German government has committed to the 0.7% target in the coalition agreement. Now it must be adhered to on a permanent basis. However, the funds are decreasing again. This year, the Green parliamentary group has once again demanded 2 billion euros in additional budget amendments to ensure that the development and climate financing commitments are met as quickly and permanently as possible. We stand by this.”

Helin Evrim Sommer, Spokesperson for Development of the Left Party (DIE LINKE): "The share of the poorest countries which receive German development assistance has been shrinking for years. It is cynical that the federal government includes the costs of housing refugees in the development expenditures. This means that Germany is the largest recipient of German development aid itself. That is really absurd. The Left calls on the federal government to end this misappropriation of taxpayers' money and to finally provide 0.7% of the gross national income for development cooperation!"

Global Citizen is calling on the German government to establish a clear timeline on how to reach 0.7% and to implement the target within this legislative period. Furthermore, poverty eradication must be at the heart of German development policy and development aid must reach those most in need.


Polio Eradication

Since 1988, incredible progress has been made in the eradication of polio with the cases of polio decreasing by 99.9%. Polio remains in only a few countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria — but these are some of the most difficult to access places in the world. If we miss just one community, the polio virus could spread again around the world reaching 200,000 cases a year within a decade. The latest statistics show that there were 22 cases of polio in 2017, and at the time of writing, 11 cases were reported in 2018 so far. That’s why it is so important governments continue to support the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to ensure every child is reached with a life-saving vaccine and to make polio the second disease in human history to be eradicated.

At the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, several governments reaffirmed their commitments to support GPEI:

Canada reaffirmed its commitment of EUR 69.14 million (CAN $100 million).

Since last year Canada has disbursed around EUR 17.9 million (CAN $26 million) to GPEI of which €5.5 million (CAN $8 million) were directed towards Afghanistan. Global Citizen calculates that 1,136,400 lives have been impacted by this commitment so far, and the commitment is considered to be on track.

Australia reaffirmed its commitment of EUR 12.38 million (AUS $18 million).

Since last year, the Government of Australia and GPEI have entered into a formal agreement to execute this commitment. The funding will be disbursed over the coming three years. Global Citizen calculates that the commitment is set to affect 769,335 lives.

The European Commission reaffirmed their commitment of €55 million.

Within the last 12 months, the European Commission has delivered on this commitment by disbursing €15 million to support polio eradication in Nigeria and a further €15 million is in the process of being disbursed to programmes in Afghanistan and Global Citizen calculations show that 1,897,200 lives have been impacted so far. Negotiations on the disbursement of the remaining €25 million will begin shortly.

You can read more about Global Citizen’s support for the eradication of polio in our recent accountability report published in April, which focused on the unique role of Commonwealth Nations in this global effort, and which included updates on Canada and Australia since Global Citizen Hamburg.

Pandemic Preparedness

In 2014, the Ebola virus spread rapidly across West Africa, infecting over 28,000 people and taking over 11,000 lives. A big problem at the time was that no Ebola vaccine had been approved for clinical use in humans yet and therefore vaccination was not available as an option to protect affected communities.

This changed in December 2016 when a medical study found the first proven vaccine to be 70% to 100% effective against the Ebola virus. Still the availability of the vaccines remains a challenge as the maintenance of large quantity stockpile is very costly.

That’s why at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Johnson & Johnson pledged to maintain a stockpile of 2 million Ebola vaccines, to be deployed and donated at any moment by the implementing partner World Health Organization (WHO), to those countries and people who need it the most.

The recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which so far has led to 28 deaths, has once again shown the importance of this commitment.

Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson said, “We are in close contact with the World Health Organization and are ready to mobilize our resources and expertise to help contain the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have maintained a stockpile of 2 million vaccine regimens for the express purpose of tackling such outbreaks. If deemed necessary and appropriate by the WHO and the Government of DRC, supplies of our investigational Ebola preventive vaccine can be made available immediately to the public health authorities and the people of the DRC.”

Leading Ebola expert and Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Peter Piot, explained to the BBC that the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is “ideal for protecting health care workers” because of its long-term protection, while an alternative provider’s vaccine is more appropriate for rapid response. In a further statement, Peter Piot continued, “With two vaccines available, DRC health officials’ strong track record of containing Ebola outbreaks, and with support from the global community ... I’m hopeful the outbreak will be brought under control soon.”

Food Security

Even though we produce enough food to feed the entire world population, 815 million people still do not have enough food to eat. The World Food Programme (WFP) is the United Nations primary agency to fight hunger and malnutrition around the world. Mastercard and WFP have been partnering since 2012 to reverse the cycle of hunger and poverty through the transformational power of school meals. At the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Mastercard committed to provide a further 100 millions meals via the World Food Programme and other partners.

Since then, Mastercard has provided funding to WFP for over 42 million school meals. The funding is supporting programmes in 15 countries across Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. In Mali, for example, thanks to the donations from Mastercard, 40,000 school children can receive meals for the entire 2018/19 academic year in the regions of Gao, Mopti, and Timbuktu.

Whenever possible, Mastercard’s funding to WFP supports home grown school meals, where WFP works with the community and local government to locally source produce used in school meals. In addition to providing children with healthy, diversified meals, this ensures local smallholder farmers have a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.

On top of this collaboration with WFP, Mastercard has also supported local and international initiatives to reduce poverty and inequalities for the equivalent of 30 million meals, which will further help communities to thrive.

Women’s Empowerment


For many women around the world, the right to make decisions about their own body is constantly challenged and threatened. There are 214 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but do not have access to contraceptives. More than 800 adolescent girls and women die every day due to pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes. Providing sexual health and family planning services is a crucial step on the path to gender equality to ensure every girl and women can decide what to do with her body, with her life, and with her future.

SheDecides is a global movement to increase political and financial support for sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls. It was created as an immediate response to US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule — also known as the Mexico City policy — a policy that has devastating effects on women, girls, and their communities around the world.

The policy requires NGOs to certify that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning,” using funds from any source (including non-US funds), as a condition for receiving US foreign aid. This means that a wide range of organisations that provide family planning services as well as other crucial health services to combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and Zika are at risk of losing their funding from the US. Although initial effects have already been documented, many of the most significant impacts of the Gag Rule will not be evident until as early as Sept. 30, 2018, when full implementation of the policy will be completed.

In the wake of the Germany G20 meeting, and in response to almost 40,000 Global Citizens, Global Citizen Festival Hamburg saw five donors announce commitments in support of SheDecides:

The Government of Norway committed €76.84 million (US $85 million).

In the last 12 months, €18.1 million (US $20 million) of the original commitment has already been disbursed to organisations including UNFPA, International Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes International, IPAS, and the Safe Abortion Action Fund.

The Government of the Netherlands announced €15 million of funding towards organisations affected by the global gag rule.

Global Citizen is currently working with the Dutch Government to find out more about how these funds have been deployed.

The Government of Belgium reaffirmed €64 million of core funding for UNFPA (€36m), UNAIDS (€12m) and UN Women (€16m).

The annual payments to the organisations have been scheduled and paid for 2017 and 2018 with UNFPA receiving €18 million, UNAIDS €6 million, and UN Women €8 million to date.

The Brook Foundation committed €50,000 and the Ribbink van den Hoek Family Foundation committed another €25,000 toward SheDecides.

The funds have been fully disbursed along with other donations from private foundations which totaled €500,000. The money was given to the Reproductive Health Network which works towards reducing maternal mortality caused by unsafe abortions in Kenya. Because of the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, the organisation stood to lose no less than 70% of its half-yearly income. That’s why it was crucial for the foundations to step in. The grant is now expected to impact the lives of 25,000 girls, indicating that the Brook and Ribbink Foundations’ contributions have impacted 2,500 and 1,250 women and girls respectively.


Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

Over 264 million children worldwide are currently out of school and are being denied their right to education. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has made it its mission to change that. GPE works to strengthen education systems in 89 developing countries in order to dramatically increase the number of children who are in school and learning.

At the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, GPE Board Chair and former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, called on the G20 to support GPE’s efforts to raise $3.1 billion USD to reach 870 million children with high quality education. Following the G20 Summit and in the lead up to GPE’s Financing Conference in Dakar, Senegal, in February 2018, Global Citizen continued its campaign to ensure every child can go to school and learn. In total 263,672 Global Citizens worldwide took action calling on donors to increase their funding to GPE.

In February 2018, at the Financing Conference in Dakar, donors pledged US$2.3 billion for GPE and developing countries pledged $110 billion USD for education for the next three years. Because of this money, GPE can increase its funds provided to developing countries as well as invest in new innovative learning projects, programmes and services. Based on Global Citizen’s calculations, the $2.3 billion USD raised in Dakar is set to provide at least 700 million children with improved quality and access to education in developing countries.

Global Citizen is continuing to work with its partners to ensure the remaining funding gap of $800 million USD is filled.

University Education for Refugees

When children and young people are forced to flee their homes because of violence and conflict, their education often gets disrupted. But education is key to bring back hope and opportunities to refugees. That’s why, as part of the campaign around the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Global Citizens sent more than 7,000 emails to universities to ensure young adults currently living as refugees in Germany can get access to university education.

Ahead of the Festival, the Hamburg University of Applied Science (HAW Hamburg) reported that it secured partners as well as funding of around €900,000 for two years to offer a preparatory course for refugees. Through academic support and multilingual tutorials, refugees are getting the skills and qualifications to prepare them for taking on a degree at the university. The programme, which started in the summer of 2017, has already taken on 110 students and the number of participants continues to grow constantly. HAW is developing further opportunities and projects for refugees at the university and is working to raise funds for these programmes.  

Yazidi Justice

In 2014, ISIS militants launched a coordinated attack against the Yazidis, a religious minority in Northern Iraq. During the attack, approximately 12,000 Yazidis were killed and abducted. Those who refused to convert to Islam were executed, young boys were abducted and forced to become child soldiers, and young women and girls were raped and used as sex slaves for ISIS fighters.

Nadia Murad lost many family members in the attack and was captured, tortured, and raped by ISIS militants. But she managed to escape. Since then, she has become a relentless activist and UN Goodwill Ambassador calling for the prosecution of the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidi people, as well as the right to return of Yazidis to their homeland. Global Citizen has been supporting her campaign for justice since 2016 — with more than 100,000 actions taken by Global Citizens.

At the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Nadia Murad took to the stage to call on the international community to refer the case of Yazidi genocide to the International Criminal Court and to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the war crimes committed against the Yazidis.

Three months later, at the Global Citizen Festival in New York, UK Permanent Representative to the UN Matthew Rycroft responded and announced that the UK led the UN Security Council to a unanimous vote on the decision to set up a UN Investigation Team. The Investigation Team will gather crucial evidence to secure justice for the Yazidis. The UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights called the UN resolution on holding ISIS accountable of their crimes a “long overdue first step."