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Global Citizen fest celebrates $30 billion worth of commitments this year

October 13, 2017 By Angelica Hill Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Green Day gets the crowd going by performing many of their well-loved hits. Courtesy of Getty Images
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On a recent Saturday, more than 60,000 diplomats, dancers, artists, activists and New Yorkers came together on the Great Lawn of Central Park to attend the 2017 Global Citizen Festival concert. This year, 13,026,243 actions were taken and $30 billion worth of commitments were made in support of Global Citizen’s many humanitarian efforts across the globe. Due to these actions and commitments, more than 1 billion lives are going to be affected in a positive way, according to the organization.

It was a night of celebration that encouraged more actions to be taken, and more pledges made to help improve the world, not just for those in turmoil, but for everyone. The concert headlined world-renowned artists, Oscar-winning actors, passionate activists, members of the United Nations and members of governments from across the globe.

The event was sponsored by HP Inc., T-Mobile, Cadillac, Citi, Johnson & Johnson, i Heart Radio and NYC Parks. The concert was timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness of the many issues both Global Citizen and the world leaders attending the UN General Assembly are trying to address.

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To go into the finer details of the 13,026,243 actions taken this year, 2,117,257 were in aid of girls and women to improve their access to education and sexual and physical health. More than 1.8 million actions were taken to improve global health, 2,022,261 in aid of water and sanitation programs and 1,141,853 in aid of world hunger.

The group’s first Global Citizen Festival was in Central Park five years ago, and the group has taken over Central Park around the end of September for this festival every year since. Global Citizen describes the purpose of these events as “an action-rewarded, awareness driven free music festival where fans engage with causes in order to win tickets.” This year, Global Citizen held a series of events throughout the week before the festival.

The first of these lead-up events was Global Citizen Live at The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in Greenwich Village, on Sept. 18. This event sought to spread awareness of the many key issues the world is currently facing and Global Citizen is trying to address. These include hunger, nuclear threats and the sexual abuse of women in many societies. The night featured the presentation of the Second Annual George Harrison Global Citizen Award to Annie Lennox.

This event was followed on Sept. 19 by Movement Makers, a series of panels with 18 inspirational activists giving TED-style talks covering a range of topics from the arts, politics, social good, marketing and behavioral science. Bob Bland, co-founder and co-chair of the Women’s March, spoke about feminism in the modern age; Michael Klosson, vice president of policy and humanitarian response at Save the Children, spoke about Save the Children’s partnerships with GirlUp, Johnson & Johnson, and the UN Foundation; and Muzoon Al-Mellehan, a Syrian refugee and activist who has been called “Syrian Malala,” spoke about her personal experiences as a refugee and the desperate need for education for girls and women. Other speakers included Sophie Trudeau, Marc Pritchard Charles Blow.

At Global Citizen’s previous festivals, recognizable artists and officials such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Jay-Z, Pearl Jam, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Band of Horses and other big names have appeared. This year was no different, with former first lady Michelle Obama and the President of France Emmanuel Macron sending video messages, and celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Dianna Agron, Andra Day, Whoopi Goldberg and Pharrell Williams making appearances and speaking out about world issues such as hunger, women’s rights and AIDS. Williams performed alongside Stevie Wonder, who took a knee on stage a few minutes after entering, showing his support for NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s actions and the fight against police brutality toward African Americans. He said he was “taking a knee for America” before he “served” the audience his “musical meal“.

When asked how he felt the night went, Michael Sheldrick, vice president of global policy and government affairs at Global Citizen said, “From my perspective, it was one of our most impactful campaigns, with 1.6 million actions being taken by Global Citizens, which led to commitments worth $3.2 billion. If these pledges are all delivered, they are set to affect the lives of 221 million people.

“It was reassuring to see throughout the evening 28 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle highlight their support for fully funding American foreign aid.” He said he felt this bipartisan demonstration “sends a very strong signal to the Trump administration that Congress understands that America’s leadership is vital for America and the world.”

As the concertgoers walked home they could see the Empire state building was lit in red and white in support of Global Citizen.

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