Impact — and how to achieve it through action — was the main theme of the second year of the Global Citizen NOW action summit on April 27 and 28 at The Glasshouse in New York City.  

Co-chaired by Lead Singer of Coldplay and International Global Citizen Festival Curator Chris Martin and Global Citizen Ambassador Hugh Jackman, the two-day event brought together government leaders, private sector executives, grassroots activists, cultural innovators, philanthropic experts, and leading journalists to set a global agenda for action on the most urgent issues facing humanity and the planet, such as climate change and gender inequity. 

This year’s program also featured major announcements on policy initiatives and intimate conversations with renowned artists, as well as corporate and world leaders. Catch some of the select panel sessions on Instagram and LinkedIn

The stage also saw Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Global Citizen CEO and Co-Founder, Hugh Evans, announce Global Citizen’s Power Our Planet campaign, a year-round effort to ensure that poor and vulnerable countries have a better financial foundation and access to financing solutions so they can more rapidly invest in critical education and health systems, and shift to clean energy. In other words, it’s about shaking up the status quo and the systems that simply aren’t working for all. 

Here are some of the most powerful quotes from this year’s Global Citizen NOW.

1. Alok Vaid-Menon on beauty

“Why can't I exist in public without the threat of being physically attacked?" asked the artist. "Why are people more comfortable with people who look like me on stages than on streets? It's because we've been advertised and marketed the illusion that beauty is just for one gender.” 

2. Busy Phillips on bodily autonomy

“I had an unintended pregnancy when I was 15 years old," said the actress, author, and activist. "My home state of Arizona would now make it incredibly difficult for me to get the same compassionate and easily accessed abortion care that I received in the 90s. These laws… do not reflect what the majority of Americans and people all around the world believe to be true, which is that bodily autonomy is necessary for equality and abortion should not only be legal, it should be safe, and it should be easily accessible for everyone, not just white girls.” 

3. Elizabeth Vazquez on spending for the world we want

“How we spend our money is literally voting for the world that we want," the CEO and Co-Founder of WeConnect International told the audience. "It says everything about what we value and who we are and what we care about. And so I think if we could just start by making sure that the corporations of the world understand the power of doing business with the women of the world, and the innovation that they have access to, and the flexibility and the brilliance, really. And the way those women in turn create the jobs and provide the benefits because they know how important those benefits are, and the way they reinvest in their families and their communities. They invest in everyone around them. So everyone benefits. That's the multiplier effect. That's so exciting.” 

4. Elizabeth Wathuti on climate injustice 

“I also want to see leaders addressing the climate crisis from the root causes in addition to meeting their finance commitments to the Global South," said the Kenyan environmentalist and Founder of Green Generation Initiative. "And for me, every fraction of a degree matters. And every increase in emissions also means that countries and communities in countries like mine will continue to face more devastating floods, droughts, heatwaves, and more climate related disasters.”

5. Gayle King on using the mic for good 

As the CBS Mornings Co-host said: “For those people who have the power of the microphone, please use it for good, because there will come a time when you will no longer have the microphone.”

6. Jacqueline O'Neill on women's voices 

“I often say women don't need to be given a voice," said the Canadian Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security. "They have a voice. We just need to listen to it.” 

7. Letitia James on the power of youth movements

“Every movement in this nation, no, in this world, has not been started by old people or politicians. It's been young people," the Attorney General of New York told the audience. "The power really lies in the hands of young people to stand up and to make a difference, to vote, and to make sure their voices are heard and not to be silenced and not to allow any individual to define what democracy looks like.”

8. Mia Mottley on living on Earth

As the Prime Minister of Barbados said: “The reality is that we do not yet know how to live on planet Mars. We only know how to live on Earth. And the same oil and gas companies, bankers, transport companies, insurance companies, they're living on the planet Earth too. So does it make sense to earn hundreds of billions of dollars in profit for only 10 or 20 years, rather than being able to sustain profit for the next century or two?” 

9. Nomzamo Mbatha on achieving glory 

“There is no glory in being the only success story," said the actress, humanitarian, and Global Citizen Ambassador. "You have to be able to stand for something that is much greater than yourself. If you are walking through this earth and saying, I've achieved so much, yet so many from the corner of the world that you come from are still stuck in that system, then you cannot hit your chest and say that you've achieved anything brilliant.” 

10. Justin Trudeau on women leading 

“If we want to build a better world, from everything from education to conflict to small businesses and economic empowerment to politics, we need to empower more women to be part of the solution, part of the conversation, and quite frankly, leading those solutions. And the fact that we're backsliding on that is linked to the fact we're backsliding on absolutely everything else," said the Prime Minister of Canada. 

11. Tolu Lawrence on paid leave 

“We also know that 93% of low wage workers who are predominantly women and people of color have no access to any kind of paid leave," said the Managing Director and Head of Corporate Impact at JUST Capital. "And so they're forced to make decisions that are often dangerous between their income and their health.” 

12. Vanessa Nakate on stopping digging

“The first rule when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging," said the climate justice activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. "We are in a climate crisis. So the very first thing that we need to do, that our leaders need to do, is to stop all new investments in fossil fuels. And secondly, to help people that are suffering right now on the front lines of the climate crisis.” 

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