In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic took an unimaginable toll on the world, changing what we knew, undermining the systems and safety nets that protected us, and devastating the lives and livelihoods of many.

As the year progressed, navigating this new world meant learning to exist without loved ones. It meant confronting unemployment, dealing with inadequate access to health care, and facing the fact that millions of children were suddenly pushed out of school.

Many faced poverty for the first time — as many who’d escaped it, fell back into its cycle.

But Global Citizens stepped up in 2020, as they continued to take action for those that couldn’t, calling on world leaders to take bold and swift measures against COVID-19 and continue working towards achieving the United Nations’ Global Goals.

Global Citizens Took 2.1 Million Actions Against Extreme Poverty in 2020

In 2020 alone, Global Citizens took an incredible 2.14 million actions in defense of the world’s most vulnerable, helping to mobilize an incredible $5 billion in grants and $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees to help protect the world from COVID-19, extreme poverty, and its impacts.

Global Citizens took these actions across countless campaigns in support of education, sanitation, hunger, equity, equality, and more, touching on issues ranging from refugee rights to development aid to equitably access to health care.

In fact, for health alone, more than 77,600 actions were taken in support of critical campaigns assisting vaccine development and distribution, health equity, neglected tropical diseases, and COVID-19 — just to name a few.

In August, when a deadly blast in Beirut killed hundreds, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble and leaving many without shelter, Global Citizens used their collective voice to help raise $1.2 million alongside Wassim "Sal" Slaiby and the UN’s World Food Programme.

Months later, in October, Global Citizens from 114 nations rallied together to condemn police brutality in Nigeria, joining the social #EndSARS movement as it called for an end to human rights violations within the region, taking more than 5,000 actions (and counting).

Throughout the year, Global Citizens urged the world’s 2,150 billionaires to commit to giving at least 5% of their wealth away every year as part of the ‘Give While You Live’ campaign.The Wallace Global Fund joined the campaign in July and announced it would spend an incredible 20% of its endowment in 2020. As part of a historic partnership with Forbes, the ‘Give While You Live’ campaign mobilized more than $167 million in funding from philanthropists for critical pandemic relief.

90% of the Funding Secured by One World:Together At Home Is Helping People Right Now

In August, Global Citizen reported that nearly 90% of the $127.9 million mobilized thanks to the 710,000 actions taken by Global Citizens in the lead up to One World: Together At Home had already been distributed to those working on the ground to protect people from COVID-19.

In partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Lady Gaga, Global Citizen launched the campaign as an emergency response to protect frontline responders and the world's vulnerable from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, more than $117 million of the total pledged is currently helping to supply essential personal protective equipment (PPE), housing, health care, and much more to those that need it most — only months after the broadcast event aired on April 18.

“The Global COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, but it has also brought people together in new ways. One example was the One World: Together at Home concert broadcast in April. This historic event was born from the goodwill and vision of Lady Gaga, the commitment of Global Citizen, and WHO’s mission to promote solidarity and health for all. The event brought joy to millions but achieved so much more,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Critical PPE and test kits have been provided to 173 countries, 26.6 million meals and food packages have been delivered to vulnerable communities, and rental assistance has been offered to 230 families threatened by eviction due to the pandemic.

As infection rates surged this holiday period, this funding will continue to help more than 140 local and regional organizations urgently respond to the pandemic within communities across the world.

As COVID-19 Cases Surged, Global CItizens Took Action to #DefeatDiseaseTogether

On June 4, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, held its third pledging conference in an effort to help mobilize billions in funding to support equitable immunization coverage and global health security in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the lead up the event, Global Citizens took more than 351,000 actions as part of the #DefeatDiseaseTogether campaign, eventually helping to mobilize $3.4 billion of the $8.8 billion total raised by the replenishment.

Over the coming 5 years, this funding will help Gavi reach another 300 million people with life-saving vaccines, preventing up to 8 million future deaths. Global Citizens have long supported Gavi in its effort to help improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world's poorest countries.

“Thank you to Global Citizen, and to Global Citizens for helping secure vital commitments for Gavi’s third replenishment-- specifically from Sweden, Australia, the UK, France, the European Commission, and the Netherlands. This funding will help provide protection for 300M people against up to 18 deadly diseases, ” said Gavi’s Guillaume Grosso.

Today, as part of a campaign urging world leaders to fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, Global Citizens are continuing to take action to support Gavi as they work to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine remains equitably distributed and available to all.

Global Goal: Unite for Our Future Highlighted the Need to Protect Everyone, Everywhere

On June 27, Global Citizen, in partnership with the European Commission, held the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future summit and entertainment special.

In the lead up to the events, Global Citizens took action to demand that everyone, everywhere be protected from the pandemic and its impacts. Global leaders responded, pledging more than $1.5 billion in new grants and $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees — for a total of $6.9 billion entirely dedicated to ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

“Team Europe will pledge €4.9 billion for vulnerable countries to recover from the pandemic —Europe will also help to ensure that vaccines, tests, and treatments are available and affordable to all who need them,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said.  

As of December, more than 900 million of 1.5 million in new grants pledged during the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future had been dispersed, impacting the lives of millions in the fight against COVID-19.

Mandela 100 Funding Is Helping Fight Poverty and COVID-19 Across Africa

On Dec. 2, 2018, more than 70,000 Global Citizens, artists, and global leaders came together in Johannesburg, South Africa for Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 to honor the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela in his centenary year, taking over 5.65 million actions to end extreme poverty.

More than two years on, efforts are underway despite the pandemic to ensure the financial pledges and commitments made on the Johannesburg stage become a reality. So far more than 105.4 million lives have been impacted by Mandela 100 funding — that’s over 50 million lives in 2020 and 14.6 million in South Africa alone.

As the unprecedented and growing human cost of the pandemic continues to rise, this funding has helped African nations respond urgently and innovatively to COVID-19 and other diseases.

150 Million New People Will Face Extreme Poverty in 2021

As we enter 2021, many will face new financial, social, and health challenges. Now, more than ever, your voice matters.

The World Bank has predicted that extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, is likely to affect over 150 million new people in 2021. That means that more than 1.4% of the world’s population will experience hardship, setting back progress towards ending extreme poverty by at least six years.

Eradicating poverty requires international cooperation, solidarity, and a shared understanding in order to overcome the systems and beliefs that create it.

Last year demonstrated that, even amid a pandemic, the actions of Global Citizens have an immense impact on the achievement of the Global Goals.

In response to the urgent and ongoing effects of COVID-19, Global Citizen has launched a five-point plan as a roadmap to prosperity and recovery during and following the pandemic, prioritizing health, hunger, education, environment, and equity.

By continuing to take action, you’re fighting for a world free from extreme poverty. No one is safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe — and this pandemic requires a world of effort to end it.


Demand Equity

Here Are 2.1 Million Ways Global Citizens Fought Extreme Poverty in 2020

By Camille May