Activists, experts, world leaders, artists, and more took part in Global Goal: Unite for Our Future — The Summit on Saturday to make pledges and join conversations around COVID-19, racial injustice, and the impact the pandemic is having on marginalized communities.
Taking place ahead of the highly anticipated Global Goal: Unite for Our Future — The Concert, the virtual summit event not only showcased a number of impressive speakers, moving stories, and incredible global health initiatives, but it acted as a platform for commitments to be made toward global COVID-19 relief efforts.
Here are just a few of the key takeaways from the summit event.
1. There Were Some Amazing Conversations
The summit featured a number of videos highlighting global health efforts, stories of activism, and so much more, including messages and interviews with European Commission President Ursula von den Leyen; actor and activist Nikolaj Coster Waldau; and actor, comedian, and licensed physician Ken Jeong. The event's conversations were moderated by journalists Katie Couric, Mallika Kapur, Morgan Radford, Isha Sesay, and Keir Simmons.
It also allowed for panel discussions with experts and thought leaders.
Kapur moderated a panel discussion between Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus, and Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans, who all spoke about the importance of ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Evans discussed the ways in which Global Citizen ensures accountability when it comes to commitments made to tackling the world’s biggest challenges, and Cyrus closed it out by reminding everyone of the importance of using their voice.
"My generation is hungry for change and is leading that charge in many ways," Cyrus said, adding that the first step to making change is really educating yourself. "We don’t want to go back to the ways things were before, we want to go to a more improved, inspired way of life."
Another notable panel was the one led by journalist Sesay with Global Citizen’s Africa Director Chebet Chikumbu, UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, one of the UN Secretary-General's Global Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals Eddie Ndopu, and singer-songwriter, actress, and activist Angelique Kidjo. They spoke about the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on girls and women, as well as the interconnectedness of all of the UN’s Global Goals — made especially apparent during the pandemic — and the way this pandemic is truly impacting the world’s most marginalized communities the most.
"We are living at a moment where COVID-19, the deepening economic downturn, and racial justice are very much interconnected," Ndopu said. "The same people that are bearing the brunt of the cruelest manifestations of climate injustice are the same people who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and these are the same people who are further plunged into extreme poverty."
Radford moderated a timely panel discussion between Dr. Vin Gupta, activist and co-founder of Campaign Zero Brittany Packnett, and President and CEO of the NAACP Derrick Johnson about the connections between calls for social justice and COVID-19. It is no secret that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people of color around the world, and in this panel, the speakers discussed the systemic inequalities in health care and society as a whole; the ways in which trauma manifests, the conversations and calls for change that were sparked following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and more.
"Systemic oppression, and systemic injustice around the world, is cancerous to all of us. Whether you experience privilege or you experience the injustice, or some combination thereof, together, as a world, we are losing out on our best minds, we are silencing our most brilliant voices, and we are losing opportunities because everyone is not experiencing justice in the way that it was meant to be experienced by all people," Packnett said.
Simmons moderated a discussion with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign; and Andrew Witty, special envoy for the World Health Organization (WHO). The group spoke about Gavi’s most recent replenishment, which mobilized more than $8 billion, the global community working to develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, lessons learned from the US' Ebola response in 2014, how regular people can help in the fight against the pandemic, and more.
"We have seen unprecedented cooperation between industrial powers, by tech companies, government, universities, all with the goal of trying to advance both treatments as well as vaccines as rapidly as possible," Witty said.
2. Messages of Solidarity Flooded in From Around the World
There were moments of global solidarity as leaders from countries around the world shared messages regarding the fight against COVID-19. This idea that countries are willing to join together in the response to COVID-19 and in the face of injustice is at the very core of Global Goal: Unite for Our Future, and the idea was echoed throughout the summit.
"Very few have the expertise to actually develop a vaccine or a treatment, but all of us can support this work. We can make sure the benefits of science are distributed in a smart and fair way," Melinda Gates said. "Together, we can end this pandemic with breakthrough science and the best of humanity."
The summit saw messages from celebrity couple Kate Upton and Justin Verlander; the Director-General of the WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments was when musician and race reconciliator Darryl Davis, who is known for his incredible stories of converting members of the Ku Klux Klan through education, delivered his message.
"If you want a cure of this virus, of racism in this country, forget about the destruction, forget about the hate, forget about the fear. Go to the source: ignorance.” Well said, @RealDarylDavis 👏 🙌 #GlobalGoalUnitehttps://t.co/AYrQo100s0— Global Citizen Canada (@GlblCtznCAN) June 27, 2020
"Ignorance breeds fear. We fear those things we don’t understand. And if you don’t keep that fear in check, the fear will escalate and breed hatred, because we hate those things that frighten us. If you don’t keep that hatred in check, the hatred will escalate and breed destruction," he said.
"So if you want a cure of this virus, of racism in this country, forget about the destruction, forget about the hate, forget about the fear. Go to the source: ignorance. If you cure ignorance, there’s nothing to fear," he continued. "With nothing to fear, there’s nothing to hate. With nothing to hate, there’s nothing to destroy. And the good thing is, there is a cure for ignorance. It’s called education. Let’s spend more time getting to know one another."
3. A Total of $6.9 Billion Was Pledged to COVID-19 Relief
Commitments and pledges from world leaders, corporations, foundations, philanthropists, and NGOs were announced throughout the summit, but it wasn’t until Sesay, Evans, and von der Leyen announced the total tally that the true impact of the campaign was revealed.
More than $1.5 billion in cash grants and $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees, for a total of $6.9 billion, was announced through the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign.
This funding will go toward ensuring access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines to everyone, everywhere, specifically ensuring support for the world’s most marginalized communities.
The event ended with a video tribute to frontline health workers around the world set to John Legend's "Bigger Love."
Tune in on Saturday for Global Goal: Unite for Our Future — The Concert, streaming around the world starting at 2 p.m. ET.
Hosted by Dwayne Johnson, the concert will feature performances from Chloe x Halle, Christine and the Queens, Coldplay, For Love Choir, J Balvin, Jennifer Hudson, J’Nai Bridges with Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic & YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), Justin Bieber and Quavo, Lin-Manuel Miranda and select members of the Original Broadway Production of HAMILTON with Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Usher, and Yemi Alade.
The concert will also include appearances from Antoni Porowski, Billy Porter, Charlize Theron, Chris Rock, David Beckham, Derrick Johnson, Diane Kruger, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Jackman, Ken Jeong, Kerry Washington, Naomi Campbell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Olivia Colman, Opal Tometi, Salma Hayek Pinault, and more.
You can join the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign by taking action here to help ensure everyone, everywhere can access the tools that are vital to putting an end to COVID-19, and mitigate its impacts on the world's most vulnerable people.
You can find out more about COVID-19, what's needed to tackle it, and how it's impacting the lives of people around the world, through our COVID-19 coverage here.