Action is the process of doing something and impact is the result. Transformative change occurs when the impact of these actions has the power to profoundly influence the thoughts and lives of those directly involved. For Global Citizens, transformative change means confronting the world's most significant challenges, including climate change and global poverty, head-on — and persisting, against all odds, until solutions are found. At Global Citizen NOW, New York City, in its third year, dozens of panels convened the greatest global minds in the single pursuit to drive transformative change: for our planet, for equity, and to help address the root causes of poverty.

Set against the backdrop of the 2024 Global Citizen Prize, the two-day summit, held from May 1 to 2 from Spring Studios in New York City, served as a pivotal platform for advocacy and real-world impact. Leaders from public and private sectors, along with artists and advocates convened on stage across two days to address humanity's most pressing issues — now. 

The event attracted a wide range of participants, including artists and advocates including TV personality and chef Andrew Zimmern, actor and humanitarian Djimon Hounsou, and TV host and activist Padma Lakshmi, and co-chairs, including musician and advocate Anitta, award-winning actor and Global Citizen Ambassador Hugh Jackman, and Oscar winner and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh. The summit also convened esteemed figures like former Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi, former Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, H.E. Phillip Davis, former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen J. Harper, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, H.E. Gaston Browne, among other global leaders.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Hugh Evans Open Global Citizen NOW as Summit Returns for its Third Year

This year, Global Citizen NOW New York was all about finding ideas for urgent action and the opening panel set the tone for these crucial conversations. It included the Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer of Cisco, Fran Katsoudas, Global Citizen and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Danai Gurira, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, H.E. Gaston Browne, Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans, and former Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson to the Vice President of the United States, Symone Sanders-Townsend, alongside artists, advocates, and political leaders, all dedicated to driving impactful change. 

"We have to recognize that practically every country on the planet is suffering from climate effects, we are destroying the earth, it involves collaboration from all... to fight this [climate] crisis,” said PM Browne. “As a consequence, small island states are now suffering, and most countries have coastal communities which are now under threat — all of us must be committed, to ensure we reduce emissions and holding large polluters accountable — ensuring we preserve our common humanity.”

Global Citizen Economic Summit Unveiled  as Power Our Planet' Campaign Re-Launches

A year ago, the inaugural Global Citizen's ‘Power Our Planet’ campaign launched at the 2023 Global Citizen NOW, urging governments, polluters, and banks to address climate change and allocate funding for critical needs. 

Two months later, in Paris, the event drew support from NGOs, governments, and leaders worldwide. Successes included a new debt pause option for disaster-affected countries that has freed up billions of dollars in funding for small island developing states facing natural disasters like hurricanes.

In 2024, the campaign will focus on unlocking resources for African economic development and continuing to call for global support to help unlock critical financing for countries impacted by climate change. As part of the campaign, Global Citizen and partner Bridgewater Associates will hold an economic summit in Côte D’Ivoire in October.

"We need multilateral development banks and G20 countries to implement reform proposals, extending debt pause clauses and tapping into additional sources of funding to deliver for the poorest and most vulnerable countries,” said Global Citizen CEO and Co-Founder Hugh Evans.

Gavi Launches Largest Ever Measles and Rubella Vaccination Campaign across Africa and Global Leaders Call for Increased Aid to Tackle Poverty and Climate Change in Developing Nations 

Andrew Ddembe, recipient of the Global Citizen Prize, joined Dr. Sania Nishtar, CEO of Gavi, on the Global Citizen NOW stage to unveil a groundbreaking initiative for 2024. Gavi is set to initiate its most extensive measles/rubella vaccination campaign in Africa, spanning over 20 countries across the continent and globally. With an ambitious target of reaching up to 100 million children by the end of the year, this campaign marks a monumental effort in combating preventable diseases worldwide. 

"[Gavi] has immunized a billion children, halved child mortality, and saved 17 million lives," said Nishtar

The ambitious target comes at a time when there has been an alarming rise in cases, outbreaks, and mortalities following the vaccine coverage drop globally. Recent data published by WHO-CDC shows that in 2022, 37 countries experienced large or disruptive measles outbreaks compared with 22 countries in 2021.

Gavi’s initiative marks a significant step toward ensuring the health and well-being of millions of children and underscores the importance of collective action in combating preventable diseases worldwide.

Gavi's announcement followed the panel titled “Building a Stronger World,” which delved into the crucial topic of bolstering aid to assist developing nations in addressing challenges such as poverty and climate change.

The panel featured speakers including Gargee Ghosh, Director of Development Policy and Finance (DPAF) at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Stefan Löfven, Former Prime Minister of Sweden; Wangari Kuria, CEO of Farmer on Fire; and Symone Sanders-Townsend, offering diverse perspectives on global development issues.

HeadCount Announces ‘I Am A Voter’ Merger at Global Citizen NOW

At Global Citizen NOW in New York, HeadCount, a non-profit organization committed to enhancing voter registration and engagement, unveiled its latest registration initiative, 'I am a voter.' HeadCount Executive Director Lucille Wenegieme announced the program alongside panelists including A Starting Point Director Mark Kassen and artist and advocate Jordan Fisher.

The announcement follows the 2023 challenge by musician John Legend during the Global Citizen NOW event 2023 event calling for increased voter engagement among the 18 to 30 age demographic across the United States.

Music's Impact on Poverty and Growth: New Research from Center for Music Ecosystems and Global Citizen Announced at Global Citizen NOW

During the day two “Powering Progress in Africa” panel, Shain Shapiro, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Music Ecosystems, made a significant announcement of the launch of extensive research aimed at uncovering the transformative power of music on a global scale, particularly in addressing pressing issues like extreme poverty. 

“Together with Global Citizen and Universal Music Group, and partners at the United Nations, we are launching a vision today... to see how music can be a tool to eradicate global poverty,” said Shapiro, in an address to the panelists from the audience. 

The research aims to explore how music and its ecosystem can serve as potent tools in the fight against global poverty.

You can read the full report here.

Health and Climate Foundation Partnership With Global Citizen Announced to Address the Climate Emergency’s Impact on Healthcare Systems

“Climate change isn't just a distant threat — it's impacting human health now, from extreme heat to mosquito-borne illnesses, the dangers are real," emphasized Ineza Umuhoza and Loss Damage Youth leader during the Global Citizen NOW Day two panel, ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People.’

The climate emergency is also a health emergency, which is why  Dr. Cecilia Sorensen also took the opportunity during the panel to announce Global Citizen's partnership with the Climate and Health Foundation during the event. to highlight linkages between healthcare systems and the climate crisis. 

"I'm excited to announce a new partnership and the Climate and Health Foundation together we are joining forces to address the climate emergency with a focus on health," said Sorensen.

Two physicians took the stage as panelists to present an art installation featuring doctor's white coats adorned with climate disaster motifs, highlighting the critical issue of extreme heat and its profound impact on global health.

Anitta and Puyr Tembé Call Global Climate Action Ahead of COP30 and Protection for the Brazilian Amazon 

The summit wrapped up with two panels focused on climate action, showcasing prominent voices from Brazil and beyond. Puyr Tembé, the Pará State Secretary of Indigenous Peoples, commenced the first panel discussion which underscored the critical importance of her work and emphasized her call for indigenous involvement in shaping climate policy. 

“We need each one of you to join this movement and to come together — let's support Indigenous Peoples because they are the best guardians of our planet,” said Tembé.

The panel was preceded by a special video message from the First Lady of Brazil, Rosângela da Silva, calling for global leaders to join the Global Alliance to end hunger.

which deeply resonated with participants, further emphasizing the indispensable role of indigenous communities in environmental protection.

Brazilian artist and advocate, Anitta, joined COP15 president, Alain-Richard Donwahi, and state secretary of the environment, Pará, Brazil, Mauro O'de Almeida on stage for the final panel, ‘A New Deal for the Planet: the Road to COP30 in Brazil’ to build optimism ahead of the 2025 COP30 in belém, brazil, and highlight the urgency to protect critical global treasures like the amazon rainforest. 

“We want to see the environment doing well, to see the planet doing well, even if that means the rich people are not going to be as rich... let's make sure the platforms are obligated to show [climate] content to everybody,” said Anitta.

The projected success of COP 30 Brazil demonstrates that when nations, civil society, and indigenous peoples unite in purpose, meaningful progress toward a sustainable future is not only possible but inevitable. 

From Australia to New York, and with each new year, Global Citizen NOW reaffirms its commitment to fostering collaboration and driving tangible change for all. As the world faces unprecedented challenges, this gathering serves as a beacon of hope, uniting individuals and audiences in the pursuit of a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

Thank you to our Global Citizen NOW partners Authentic Brands Group, Bridgewater Associates, Cisco, Citi, Delta Air Lines, P&G and Verizon, and our Global Citizen Prize partners Cisco and Citi.


Demand Equity

7 Ways We Drove Impact and Action on Poverty at Global Citizen NOW New York 2024

By Camille May