Impact is created when people, leaders, and activists unite to take action for a common cause. 

And from March 5-6, the dynamic Global Citizen NOW summit returned for its third year, this time taking center stage in Melbourne, Australia. 

Upholding its core principle of uniting people in action, the event brought together diverse voices – from world leaders to grassroots activists – to tackle humanity's most pressing issues, from climate change to global poverty.

Launched in New York City in 2022, Global Citizen NOW brings together diverse voices for two action-packed days. Through engaging panels, participants delve into solutions for humanity's most pressing challenges, from climate change to global poverty.

And the Melbourne event was no different. Over two inspiring days, 32 Global Citizen Youth Leadership award winners, artists, entrepreneurs, and influential figures joined audience members from across the Asia-Pacific region in exploring the future of Australia and the region.

Equally important was the ongoing acknowledgment of the traditional owners of the land where Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne took place. 

The two days were spearheaded by a powerful convergence of Australian First Nations voices and diverse leaders from across the Asia-Pacific. Global Citizen NOW's Melbourne edition, held on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri and Bunurong peoples of the Kulin Nation, offered a commendable example of such recognition.

Wurundjeri female dance group, Djirri Djirri, and Traditional Custodians of Narrm, Melbourne, performed as part of the Welcome to Country opening ceremony on Day one of the two day summit.

This act of recognition set a strong precedent for future events, reminding us that positive global change must be built on a foundation of respect and inclusivity towards the original inhabitants of the land on which we strive for a better future.

Culminating in meaningful action and significant announcements, Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne served as a powerful testament to the collective power of diverse voices, proving that when individuals and leaders come together, impactful solutions to pressing global challenges become a reality.

Here are six moments of impact to celebrate:

1. Hon. Xanana Gusmão Prime Minister of Timor-Leste Calls on the Australian Government to Do More

The first, and opening panel of Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne, Day one ignited a crucial conversation aimed at navigating development challenges in the Asia-Pacific, with a conversation with H.E. Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, and renowned Australian journalist, David Speers. 

“Global Citizen should be commended for bringing together so many people to meet,” said Prime Minister Gusmão. 

Diving into the role Australia plays in confronting the pressing issues of global poverty and climate change within the region, Prime Minister Gusmão spoke at length on the urgent issues facing many of the world’s most vulnerable communities and the importance of protecting the environment. 

“We will take all measures to protect the environment,” said the Prime Minister. 

2. Global Citizen's Michael Sheldrick, and Michah Australia Launch ‘Safer World For All’ Campaign to Protect Global Communities

The world has entered a period of ‘poly-crisis,’ and severe shocks threaten to derail hard-earned progress to improve the lives of millions of communities living in poverty. 

The day one panel, “A Safer World For All, the Moral Obligation to Act,’ marked the launch of the 'Safer World for All' Campaign, a joint initiative with Global Citizen and Micah Australia aimed at increasing Australian Aid while highlighting the world's most pressing issues.  

Moderated by the National Director of Micah Australian, Matt Darvas, the panel featured insights from Miniter Zoe Daniel, Tim Costello, Most Influential Asian-Australian 2023 Mariam Veiszadeh, and 2024 Global Citizen Youth Leadership Award Winner Bianca Manning. 

“As we heard in the Welcome to Country this morning, the concept of the country for Aboriginal people is truly encompassing all of our life, our culture, our communities, our identity is wrapped up in the country, in the environment and,” said Manning. “We've found so much commonality and so much solidarity in our worldviews around climate.”

Panelists shared their experiences in calling for stronger leadership in global efforts to eradicate poverty, combat climate change, and reduce inequality.

“That aid and development is, actually, in Australia's interest. Ten out of 15 countries in our region that were receiving Australian aid are now among our biggest trading partners. We are benefiting from it,” said Costello. 

3. Gavi Announces the Introduction of Life-Saving HPV Vaccine to Timor-Leste

Global Citizen NOW Melbourne's "Defeating Disease: From Reduction to Eradication" panel, featuring global health leaders, saw another major announcement on day one of the event. 

Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Chief Resource Mobilization & Growth Officer, Gavi took to the stage to pledge on behalf of Gavi, to introduce human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines in Timor-Leste starting in July 2024, which is projected to impact more than 86,000 women and girls in the region.  

4. IFAD Celebrates First-Ever Official Mission to the Pacific by an IFAD President 

Over the past year, Global Citizen has led a campaign alongside global leaders to urge Australia to rejoin the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

As part of the day one panel discussion "Future of Food: Farming on the Front Lines of Development" delved into the significance of smallholder farmers across the region, shedding light on their role in the future of food systems and food security. 

Panelist and president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Alvaro Lario took the opportunity to announce the news that the organization had completed its first official mission to the Pacific by an IFAD President to the Solomon Islands earlier this year. 

“I just came from the Solomon Islands, where I was meeting with the Prime Minister and seeing some of our projects in the region,” said Lario. “I would say that one of the things that we are proud of is when the projects conclude that there's the sustainability aspect, that many of the changes in the communities change.”

Lario met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and visited projects in the field to see the impact of IFAD's investments to address the region's extreme vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, including threats to food security and nutrition.

5. Global Citizen Hosts Official Launch of the ‘Naiulo Declaration’ Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

The science is clear: we must urgently phase out fossil fuels. Yet, many of the world's most powerful countries lag in taking decisive action. In response, a formidable coalition led by Pacific Island States has emerged as a beacon of hope and resilience. 

The second day's panel, "Resilience and Global Action: Pioneering a Fossil-Free Future," hosted by 2022 Global Citizen Prize winner and activist Brianna Fruean, witnessed the official launch of the "Naiuli Declaration for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Born out of the Pacific Strategy Retreat for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pacific civil society organizations launched the "Naiuli Declaration." This declaration advocates for a new international treaty to halt fossil fuel expansion, phase out existing projects, and facilitate a just global transition to a fossil fuel-free future, ultimately aiming for a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific.

6. First Nations Lawyer and Activist Sandra Creamer Calls for Australia to Protect Activists

Activists are often the frontline voices of change. Sandra Creamer, a First Nations Australian lawyer, activist, and board member of IPRI (Indigenous Peoples Rights International), exposes the stark reality facing environmental activists worldwide.

First Nations lawyer and activist Sandra Creamer highlighted the ongoing threats against climate activists in her day one Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne Panel, and called for Australia to urgently do more to protect them.

“Indigenous peoples and Environmental defenders tirelessly safeguard the front lines of our planet, often at great personal risk. Yet, their sacrifices frequently go unrecognized, and their voices are largely missing from global decision-making,” Creamer said in an address to the audience. 

“It’s time for governments to incorporate a human rights approach throughout all phases of climate action,” she said. 

The call comes as more activists and leaders are urging governments to include the views of environmentalists in the decision-making process on climate.

“Instead of viewing Indigenous peoples and environmental defenders as adversaries, governments must see them as allies with a shared interest in protecting our planet,” said Creamer. “This means fostering open dialogue and engagement at every level, from local communities to global forums like the Conference of the Parties (COP).”


Demand Equity

6 Biggest Moments Driving Impact and Action From Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne

By Camille May