Can’t wait for this year’s Global Citizen Festival? Neither can we. 

But before we gather again on September 28 for our 12th annual Festival, we wanted to zoom out and look at the big picture behind all the spectacle. After all, this is so much more than a celebration — it’s a chance for people to come together, have their voices heard, and demand real change from those in positions of power. It’s a key, strategic part of our mission to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide. 

How, you ask? Let’s dive in. 

First: a quick primer on the NYC Festival

The Global Citizen Festival has taken place in Central Park, right in the heart of New York City, for the last 11 years. We’re back this year with one of our buzziest lineups ever, featuring global superstars Post Malone, Doja Cat, Rauw Alejandro, Jelly Roll, and more yet-to-be-announced artists in the coming weeks. Global Citizen Ambassador Hugh Jackman will be our host for the evening, with special appearances by Dr. Jane Goodall and Global Citizen Festival Curator Chris Martin of Coldplay.

It’s a moment to celebrate all we have achieved over the past year while charging forward on the work that still needs to be done to create a better world. Indeed, there’s an enormous amount to be done: About 712 million people live in extreme poverty today, defined by the World Bank as those living on less than $2.15 per day (about 9% of the world’s population). 

How does it work exactly? 

Unlike a traditional festival, the majority of tickets aren’t sold — they’re earned. Fans can win free tickets by taking actions on our app or website. The event culminates in an evening that brings together Global Citizens, artists, activists, world leaders, corporate and nonprofit partners, and more, all with one goal in mind: End extreme poverty now. 

What does it mean to take action? It could involve signing petitions, learning about systemic injustices, donating, amplifying social media posts, or contacting elected officials to drive lasting change. With every action taken, Global Citizens earn points that, in turn, can be used for entries to win Festival tickets. 

This model ensures millions of Global Citizens can easily engage in collective action that makes a difference — and are incentivized to continue doing so, day after day. 

What’s the impact of all these individual actions? 

Glad you asked. Since 2009, Global Citizens have collectively taken over 33.5 million actions on our platforms. Over $43.6 billion has been distributed to organizations and people fighting to end extreme poverty, impacting more than 1.3 billion lives

For years, pledges made by world leaders and private sector members at Global Citizen Festivals have included not only financial commitments, but also reinforcement for global human rights frameworks and policies that aim to end extreme poverty.

Just last year, the 2023 Global Citizen Festival campaign rallied a historic number of monumental commitments worth $290 million. With an emphasis on securing food equity and critical support for smallholder farmers, early commitments rolled in worth $240 million for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with France and Norway leading the charge. 

Climate policy also saw some significant victories. The Brazilian state of Para pledged to protect 1 million hectares of land in the Amazon by 2025, with a focus on safeguarding indigenous lands and eliminating illegal deforestation. What’s more, Antigua and Barbuda and Timor-Leste endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, which outlines a proposed global framework for phasing out crude oil in favor of renewable energy. Ireland meanwhile guaranteed that it would meet its climate financing promises by 2025 and contribute €225 million annually from that year onwards.

On the equity side, Belgium’s government committed €2 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Supplies program, marking its first commitment to the UN to advance maternal healthcare and contraception access worldwide. In another substantial win for education, France made a new €40 million commitment to Education Cannot Wait (ECW) to help children living in countries affected by conflict continue their schooling. 

The potential for impact isn’t just limited to the New York stage. Festivals have taken place around the world and resulted in historic global commitments. For instance, the 2018 Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100 in Johannesburg saw more than 60 commitments made to help deliver on-the-job training, healthcare, education, and more to communities across Africa. Five years later, more than $7.4 billion in funding has been delivered to organizations dedicated to fighting extreme poverty, impacting the lives of 122 million people globally. Over in Germany, a Global Citizen Festival held in 2017 in Hamburg resulted in commitments worth €638 million ($706 million), set to affect 113 million people worldwide by 2030. In India, the 2016 Global Citizen Festival held in Mumbai had 28 commitments with the potential to affect nearly 560 million lives by 2030. 

The best part of all this? The impact persists even after the Festival lights have shut off. All commitments made are expected to continue delivering essential resources and services long after the night is over.

What are we advocating for in 2024?

Every year, the Global Citizen Festival aims to shine a bright spotlight on some of our most pressing policy demands to inspire the most action possible. This year is no different. The crises our world is facing are intricately linked and multifaceted; it’s impossible, for example, to disentangle the climate crisis from social welfare, as the World Bank estimates that climate change could push up to 132 million people into poverty by 2030.

This means it’s imperative to tackle these issues simultaneously. With this in mind, we’ve boiled down our primary policy goals into three pillars of action: 

  • Defeat Poverty
  • Defend the Planet
  • Demand Equity

We must defeat poverty so that every person and country has the chance they deserve to thrive. We can do this by strengthening international financing streams, including Official Development Assistance (ODA) from more affluent countries, and implementing global reforms geared towards economic development. Our top ask this year? We’re advocating for the G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the US and the UK — to increase their support for anti-poverty programs worldwide by providing an additional 20-25% in contributions to the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), a fund to support low-income countries. This fund is one of the best tools to defeat poverty because it’s a top source for zero and low-interest loans. Be sure to check out more ways you can take action to Defeat Poverty here.

Meanwhile, the climate crisis is here — and it’s about time global leaders acted like it. We can’t compromise on empty promises or have countries drag their feet over phasing out fossil fuels. The planet simply won’t wait. That’s why we’re working to ensure governments commit to adequate climate financing and invest in adaptation measures and robust nature-based solutions. Among a host of other demands and actions, we’re looking to secure protection for the Amazon rainforest in the form of $1 billion in commitments from businesses, foundations, and governments, including providing support for indigenous-led projects in the region. The Amazon is one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, storing about 150 billion tons of carbon — further destruction will unleash disastrous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, while restoration will only enhance its mitigation abilities. 

Lastly, in an equitable world, everyone’s human rights are respected and protected. This includes the right to adequate living standards, nutritious food, access to affordable healthcare, and quality education. By ensuring robust civic participation opportunities, historically marginalized individuals can instead become key decision-makers and drivers of change.  There are numerous ways we’re striving to Demand Equity this year. One of our top policy goals involves calling on the UK, France, Germany, the European Commission, Canada, the US, Australia, Sweden, and Norway to to increase their contributions to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to ensure it’s fully funded until 2030 and help achieve its goal of saving more than 8 million lives by 2030.

These are ambitious goals — but that’s exactly why building a movement of millions of ordinary people around the world inspired to take action has never been more vital, and it’s why events like the Global Citizen Festival are so needed. By combining the power of music, community, and collective action, the Festival creates an unforgettable sense of being in this fight together. It boosts our message far and wide, bringing in new Global Citizens every year to join the cause to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. 

So what are you waiting for? Become a Global Citizen today. We hope to see you in September!

Global Citizen Explains

Demand Equity

Why We Host the Global Citizen Festival

By Victoria MacKinnon