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Global Citizen Week Proves We Need Private Sector Innovation if We Are to Beat Poverty

The journey to achieve the UN’s Global Goals by 2030 is at a critical point along the road — the progress achieved over recent decades has halved the number of people living in extreme poverty, and yet this progress is at risk of being not only stopped, but actually reversed. This is thanks to isolationist rhetoric fast creeping into policy across the globe.

This unprecedented development called for an unprecedented response — and so Global Citizen week was born. A week of over 30 events, that saw the participation of seven world leaders and well over 30 heads of influential NGOs, foreign ministers and ambassadors, who made vital commitments to creating a fairer world on Global Citizen stage totaling over $3.2 billion.

Read more: Why We Partner with the Private Sector to Fight Poverty

Yet it was the commitments made by our corporate partners that so clearly answered an urgent need in the fight to end poverty. Every commitment from the private sector demonstrated the innovative expertise that is required if we are to fix a problem that the UN estimates will cost around $2 trillon to $3 trillion a year until 2030.

Here are three ways our partners helped us get this much closer to eradicating extreme poverty for good.

HP Invents Technology to Fix the Education Crisis

Global Citizen partner HP responded to over 76,000 actions by Global Citizens and committed to impact 1 million lives by 2020 through distributing the new HP School Cloud — a brand new educational device the organization invented that enables students to use it to learn, from wherever they are, even without internet access.

With the help of partner governments and organizations like Intel, Global Business Coalition for Education, Education Cannot Wait fund, OpenStax, and Global Citizen, HP will identify the classrooms in most urgent need,” declared Stuart Pann, the chief supply chain officer at HP from the festival stage, “so that we can help reach one million learners by 2020.”

What this critically means is that children in emergency situations will be able to continue learning — a vital commitment in the context of the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. It also means that children in Africa’s poorest country — Malawi — will receive education services they so vitally need. Emmanuel Fabiano, the minister of foreign affairs for the country, confirmed that Malawi would be collaborating with HP on the festival stage.

Priyanka Chopra, who shared this stage moment with the two governmental and business heads, rounded it off by challenging Global Citizens to help achieve Global Goal 4: a quality education for all: “If we don't do this, who will? We owe it to our children. They are this planet’s only future, our only hope. I urge you all to invest in the future and stand up for education … today — not tomorrow!”

Johnson & Johnson Commits to Accelerate Vaccine Development

Our partner, Johnson & Johnson declared at Global Citizen Festival that they would accelerate the healthcare company’s HIV vaccine and announced that for the first time it is ready to go into large scale efficiency testing in humans. This is the world’s first “global” vaccine, meaning that it can protect against all strains of HIV. The early stage studies of the vaccine have shown a 100% immunity rate.

Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson, who announced the commitment, thanked Global Citizen for being a partner and made a promise to not rest until HIV was history.

Actor and activist, Whoopi Goldberg declared after Stoffels, "We've been waiting for this for a long time, baby."

Read more: Whoopi Goldberg Spoke Powerfully About HIV/AIDS at Global Citizen Festival

In addition to working on an HIV vaccine, Johnson & Johnson has also partnered with Global Citizen to push for a preventive vaccine for Zika. Global Citizens took over 67,000 actions to ensure that governments and companies stepped up for global health security in the lead up to the 2017 festival. Johnson & Johnson announced that its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, is partnering with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to accelerate development of a preventive Zika vaccine to help cessate the rapid spread of this virus that is now reported in 84 countries and territories across the world.

Johnson & Johnson took the stage earlier in the week at GC Live with an announcement from their Vice President, in order to make his commitment on Zika: “Johnson & Johnson is today proud to announce that we have entered into collaboration with Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to advance a promising investigational Zika Vaccine...Bringing together the brightest scientific minds and latest technologies we aim to develop a vaccine and help stop the spread of this disease. Working together we will ensure society wins, and Zika loses.”

Procter & Gamble Tackles Waterborne Diseases

Procter & Gamble announced a commitment that will address the issue of malnutrition through greatly reducing the risk of waterborne diseases. The organization committed to provide 200 million litres of clean water in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen over the next six to nine months.

As the world experiences the worst famine crisis since World War II with 20 million people starving, P&G’s commitment to reducing waterborne diseases will greatly impact the lives of people in countries like Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia who are in dire need of assistance. P&G is partnering with their Children’s Safe Drinking Water partners — Save the Children, World Vision and CARE — who will deliver the distribution of P&G Purifier of water packets that enable people to collect water from open sources and turn it into clean drinking water.

Read More: How Global Citizens Just Helped Secure $1B in Commitments Towards Gender Equality

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G made the commitment on the festival stage stating: “Children and families struggle to survive because they have no choice but to drink water filled with contaminants and waterborne diseases, leading to sickness, malnutrition, and widespread loss of life. That’s why I’m pleased to announce tonight that Procter & Gamble will provide 200 million litres of clean water in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.”

At such a pivotal time in the journey to end extreme poverty, the private sector has a critical role to play. And Global Citizen Week is proof of how innovation driven by corporations can drive progress across every issue we campaign on. We look forward to seeing more companies stepping up for a fairer world — and with your collective voice, they will.