Just hours ahead of epic performances by Sho Madjozi, Beyoncé, Trevor Noah, and more on Dec. 2, a high level gathering convened to talk about the core of Global Citizen’s mission: the Sustainable Development Goals, and where we’re at in the journey toward their achievement.

It was a fitting prelude to the star-studded Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100. Hosted by the Co-Chairs of the SDG Advocates Group, Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg and President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, eminent guests included Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed; the Mandela family, including Dr. Maki Mandela; President of Rwanda Paul Kagame in his capacity of Chair of the African Union; Mozambican politician, humanitarian, and widow of Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel; Minister of Energy of South Africa Jeff Radebe; Vice-President of Botswana Slumber Tsogwane; Minister of General Education and Instruction of South Sudan Deng Deng Hoc Yai; and more.

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The gathering set the tone for the day — channeling voices, big or small, toward ending extreme poverty for all.

“Realising Mandela’s vision is, in effect, realising the vision of the SDGs, which has at its core human development that leaves no one behind,” said President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.

The message was clear: Progress has been made on the Sustainable Development Goals, but much more has to be done. Countries are currently failing the hundreds of millions around the world who continue to endure the injustices of inequality and extreme poverty. And if we want to redress course, we must work together — now.

Read More: Global Citizens Help Fulfill Mandela’s Vision of Ending Extreme Poverty by Taking 5.6M Actions

“My father, Tata, was passionate about transforming the lives of poor people," said Dr. Maki Mandela, one of Nelson Mandela's daughters. "What will make our collective intervention sustainable is if we refrain from acting in silos, and come together in the spirit of ubuntu, combining our talent and expertise to maximise impact."

She added: "I am Madiba, and so are you, if you choose to be a Madiba.”

Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed echoed this.

“I am Madiba," Mohammed said. "On our long and challenging walk to 2030, let’s keep on urging our governments to accelerate action. Let us ensure that we, by 2030, together will close the gap between the reality of challenges to the opportunities of our aspirations.”

The High-Level Reception also served as a setting for a number of commitments to end extreme poverty:

  • Botswana: “Botswana will conduct a survey to accurately map the distribution and prevalence of those diseases in 2019 with a view of treating those in need. We intend to establish and fully fund the Neglected Tropical Diseases programme to enable us to meet the ambitious yet attainable targets of eliminating these diseases, together with other low burden countries in the Southern African Region by 2023.” (Vice-President of Botswana Slumber Tsogwane)

  • South Sudan: South Sudan commits “to increase our domestic funding for basic education from around 4% to at least 10% of the current annual budget. Moreover, South Sudan has allocated an additional 5% of the annual budget in higher education, and another 5% in training for civil servants.

  • Accenture: With WEConnect International, “Accenture, as a global corporate, is committing a US$100 million spend with women-owned businesses over three years.” (Accenture Representative Zandile Njamela)

  • Intel: With WEConnect International, Intel has “achieved [its commitment to spent US$100 million on women-owned businesses], and we are upping that to US$200 million, by 2020.” (Intel Representative Megan Stow)

  • Procter & Gamble: With WEConnect International, P&G is “going to triple our spending here, in South Africa, with women-owned businesses, and spend US$30 million over the next three years.” (Procter & Gamble Representative Allison Tummon Kamphuis)

  • Will Smith: “Will Smith bravely bungee-jumped over the Grand Canyon in September, raising over US$750,000 for the Education Cannot Wait initiative, to help countries like mine provide education in emergencies.” (Announced by Minister Deng Deng Hoc Yai)

This was just the beginning. Keep an eye out for more of this in the next few weeks, as we walk you through the commitments, calls to action, and announcements that took place at the historic Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100!

“To honour Madiba’s legacy, therefore, is to search and find in any one of us those values and strengths that enable us to go beyond ourselves, and to fight injustice wherever we may find it,” Machel said.


Demand Equity

SDG High-Level Reception in Johannesburg Inspires Commitments for Change

By Sophie Barbier