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People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.


How we know the Global Citizen Festival is set to affect 259 million lives


1. Why lives affected?

For Global Citizen 2014, we decided to take a different tack in measuring the impact of festival. Instead of counting dollars raised or policies changed, we decided to count the number of lives that festival is set to affect.

We made this decision, not because we want to discourage financial or policy commitments but because these commitments are only meaningful if they actually make a difference and affect people's lives. We want those making commitments using our platforms to be held accountable for the people that their promises affect and ensure their commitments are delivered.

2. What do we mean by "lives affected"?

Counting the lives set to be affected through commitments is not an easy task, especially as we've worked with our partners to improve lives in various ways, whether that be receiving a vaccine, a basic education, or access to a toilet.

We only the count the people directly to benefit from the delivery of an intervention that is set to result from a commitment.
For vaccines, we have counted each person set to receive a vaccination as a result of a commitment.
For education, we have counted each child set to receive a basic education as a result of a commitment.
For sanitation, we've counted each person set to have access to a toilet and use it or who is set to benefit from sanitation and hygiene education.
We only count commitments that are newly announced towards our lives affected total, or where we know the actions of Global Citizens have affected the outcomes.
We have counted lives affected for each commitment. But we are not able to deduct lives that may be affected across more than one commitment. This is because GPP is not a service delivery organisation. Nor do we provide brokerage services across our partners.
We have not counted the people set to indirectly benefit from the delivery of an intervention set to result from a commitment.
For vaccines, we have not counted unvaccinated people set to benefit because vaccines means fewer sick people to spread contagious diseases.
For vaccines, we have not counted the health workers that will be employed to distribute and immunize people.
For vaccines, we have not counted lives saved. This is because it's a less reliable number and because the numbers vaccinated is a better comparison with the other ways that we're counting lives affected against other issues.
For sanitation, we've not counted people who won't get sick because proper sanitation is in use.
For campaigning on what should be in the post-2015 agenda, we've not counted any lives affected. This is because the post-2015 agenda is designed to make the world fairer for everyone. It's nonsensical to start counting the entire population. Later, we can count lives affected by interventions made possible because of the post 2015 agenda.
Sometimes an announcement remains strategic to reaffirm using our platforms. When this happens, we don't count the lives affected towards our total.

3. How do we count the lives affected?

Wherever possible, we work with our global partners to find out the human scale of the problem that commitments will go towards tackling. Then we work with those partners, usually NGOs and multilaterals, to find out the cost to fix that problem. Then we can calculate commitments as a proportion of the resources needed to fix it and the number of lives a commitment is set to affect.

4. Why is it only "set to affect 259 million lives"? What are the implications?

Much as we'd all love to end even one aspect of poverty immediately, it's just not practical. Funding pots have to be sufficiently replenished, staff must be recruited and people have to be reached, often in some of the most remote or toughest terrains on earth. And sometimes these locations have to be swept more than once to ensure that everyone is reached. And to be affective, these campaigns to distribute aid can and often should take a number of years.

Over that period of years, the world has an annoying habit of changing. Companies once flush with cash start tightening their belts. Governments change and have different spending priorities. Foundation's strategic goals change. Positive or negative media changes the dynamics around investing in aspects of ending extreme poverty; for example, Ending Polio has only 1% of the original global cases – so something else looks more urgent now; or bad media around using polio aid workers as cover for spies in Pakistan gets out. And if we're not careful, the lives we've worked so hard to affect diminishes as the world fails to honour its commitments.

5. What do we do to ensure commitments are honoured?

There's a couple of things we do:

a) We don't stop. We continue campaigning on the urgency for commitments to tackle the problems of poverty until the issue is resolved. By our campaigning we aim to prove to the world that we really can affect enough lives to bring about the end of extreme poverty by 2030.

b) We hold our partners accountable for the commitments they make using our platforms. This means that we don't just forget about the commitments once they are made, but we conduct careful due diligence to make sure we really understand what is intended through each commitment. Then we reach out to these partners annually and ask them what progress they've made each year, until their commitment is fulfilled. As we find out the answers, we develop stories and share them with at