Priyanka Chopra Jonas at Atlantic Festival: Billionaires Can Help End Extreme Poverty
The actor and producer urged the world's billionaires to commit more money to charity.
Actor and Global Citizen Ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas joined Global Citizen at the Atlantic Festival on Wednesday to urge the world's billionaires to commit more of their net worth annually to charity.
Chopra Jonas and Global Citizen CEO and co-founder Hugh Evans participated in a panel called “Sharing the Wealth” on day three of the Ideas Stage, the virtual festival’s main stage event that features conversations and interviews with some of the biggest names in politics, media, business, tech, and the arts.
Hosted by Atlantic staff writer Derek Thompson, the panel discussed Global Citizen’s Give While You Live campaign, which Chopra Jonas helped launch in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The campaign aims to encourage the world’s more than 2,000 billionaires — who are collectively worth more than $8 trillion, nearly 30 times the funding needed annually to end extreme poverty — to give at least 5% of their wealth away every year.
“When we launched this campaign, we said we want to change the way we measure philanthropy, as not just dollars being pledged to a foundation, but is it getting to the end recipient,” Evans said. “Is it getting to the poorest of the poor, or to a great charity that is at the forefront of making a difference? Because if you can measure that, you can change the world.”
During the panel, Chopra Jonas and Evans also discussed the new Forbes 400 philanthropy score that was created this month in partnership with Global Citizen. The enhanced ranking system assesses how much money the 400 wealthiest billionaires in the United States have given to charities and nonprofits each year, excluding money pledged for the future or stowed away in a foundation or donor-advised fund.
As the US struggles to overcome numerous crises — including the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downfall, climate change, a growing education gap, and ongoing racial injustice — years of hard-earned progress in the fight to eliminate extreme poverty are at risk of being erased.
This backward trend is also occurring on a global scale. For the first time since 1998, poverty rates will rise as a result of the pandemic’s economic downturn, according to the World Bank. This year, up to 60 million people will fall into extreme poverty (less than $1.90 a day), and another 150 million could begin living on less than $3.20 a day.
“There’s so much need on the planet right now, and when that need is accentuated, it actually gives people the opportunity to step into that and provide leadership,” Evans said.
Funding from those who have the capacity to give, especially in large amounts, is now more urgent than ever, Chopra Jonas said.
“It is in this moment that we need to make sure we get so much more to be able to end the world’s problems, or at least contribute in trying to fix it for the next generation,” she said. “The urgency is so pressing that the only way to do it is to have people mobilized in large numbers, which Global Citizen does so well.”
Chopra Jonas stressed the power in numbers, and said that it is the responsibility of each person to “build larger tables for those who have not had a seat on that table.” Although this primarily includes billionaires, she also encouraged regular citizens to consider their position in the world and help those who are in less fortunate situations.
“Every single person who has the privilege to have a home, to be able to feed their families, and to have the luxury of having security in a time when it’s all unprecedented, I think that’s our privilege to take care of someone or a part of society that we can better,” Chopra Jonas said. “It’s on each and every one of us as citizens of the world.”
Chopra Jonas and Evans also discussed the importance of creating more equitable institutions in the fight to eliminate extreme poverty. This requires public pressure on governments to create new laws and opportunities, but also monetary investments to provide the resources to strengthen or reform broken systems, such as health care.
Since the launch of the Give While You Live campaign at the beginning of this year, billionaires have taken action. The Wallace Global Fund, a major private foundation, announced in July that it joined Global Citizen’s Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign and will be giving away 20% of its endowment this financial year. Last week, following the enhanced Forbes 400 scoring system, billionaire Chuck Feeney reached his lifetime ambition of wanting to give away his entire $8 billion fortune.
“We’re starting to see more and more wealth managers consider the new Forbes ranking as the gold standard of what they should be doing when they consider their philanthropy in the future,” Evans said. “This is an example of where a ranking like this is changing cultures — it’s actually encouraging billionaires to give more.”