Home / News / We Are Not A Generation of Bystanders: Global Citizens Unite in NYC
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Eddie Vedder and Beyonce perform onstage during 2015 Global Citizen Festival to end extreme poverty by 2030 in Central Park on September 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen) *** Local Caption *** Eddie Vedder; Beyonce Knowles 2015 Kevin Mazur

We Are Not A Generation of Bystanders: Global Citizens Unite in NYC

On Saturday, September 26, the 2015 Global Citizen Festival was held on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park. The Festival saw world and business leaders come together to commit to the newly launched Global Goals for Sustainable Development. It featured performances by Pearl Jam, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, with special performances from Ariana Grande, Common, Tori Kelly, and Sunidhi Chauhan. The 2015 Global Citizen Festival coincided with the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, adopted by 193 countries at the United Nations on Friday, September 25.

Approximately 60,000 global citizens attended and millions watched live throughout the day through broadcast partners MSNBC and YouTube. A one hour broadcast special based on the Global Citizen Festival will be aired in more than 70 countries in the next week.

Since 2012, the Festival has been the largest, most visible moment of a year-round movement of global citizens committed to ending extreme poverty by 2030. This movement combines the action and voices of millions of citizens, the efforts of non-profit organizations, the anthems of socially conscious artists, and the commitments of world leaders.

Global citizens took more than two million actions in the months leading up to the Global Citizen Festival, leading to the 27 announcements and commitments that were made from the stage. These commitments are set to affect the lives of more than 92 million people, and will be used by global citizens to hold governments and businesses accountable to deliver on their promises in the years to come.

WORLD & BUSINESS LEADER MESSAGES IN SUPPORT OF GLOBAL GOALS

United States, President Barack Obama
“When so many still live in extreme poverty and chronic hunger, when so many mothers still die from childbirth, when so many children still die from preventable diseases—that’s a moral outrage.  It’s a profound injustice.  And we have to come together, as one world, to realize the change we seek.  Today, we’re setting new Global Goals, and every nation, every sector, every government, every citizen has to do our part.”

United States, Vice President Joe Biden
“Everybody in the world is entitled to be treated with dignity. No time in the history of the world has it been harder to hide injustice…I see a sea of global citizens. We can change the world, we really can, you can. At no time in history has so much power been available to make such a difference for so many people. I refuse to believe that we’re not going to try.”

United States, First Lady Michelle Obama
“Right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.  As I’ve traveled around the world, I have met so many of these girls, and they are so bright and so determined to make something of themselves… These girls are our girls, and I simply cannot walk away from them. Today, along with Girl Rising, we’re announcing a new campaign called 62 Million Girls – and we’re asking you to get on Twitter or Instagram…share a photo of yourself…and tell the world what you learned in school using the hashtag #62MillionGirls.”

United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron
“To fight poverty we need lots of things. We need to end corruption, we need to end conflict, we need to make sure the medicines are there, we need to make sure that kids can go to school, but we also need to make sure the money is there, the resources are there. Britain is the only major country in the world that has kept its promise of spending 0.7% of our national income on aid, and that is absolutely vital. We need other countries to meet that pledge, to meet their promises, because these were promises that we made to the poorest people and the poorest countries in the world.”

India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“There is a need to liberate our world from the curse of poverty. My government is committed to eliminate poverty. To me, it means creating a condition where every individual is able to realize his or her potential. The time has come for nations and governments to show resolve in tackling this challenge. I’m committed to dignity and freedom from poverty for all. This is my mission and this is your mission. Let us work together. This will make our world a better place to live.”

United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“In your faces, I see a world of possibility. You are the first generation that can end global poverty. You must be the last generation to tackle climate change before it is too late. And I’m proud that you are the most determined generation to fight injustice. The global goals for sustainable development are a promise from your leaders. Hold them to it. Demand that they deliver. Stand up, tell everyone, stand up for justice. Stand up for dignity. Stand up for a better world. Take your passion and compassion – and let’s make the global goals a global reality.”

World Bank, President Jim Yong Kim committed to lead efforts to lift an additional 20 million out of extreme poverty in the next 12 months.

“At the World Bank Group, we go to work every day to end poverty by the year 2030. Even with the slowing global economy — despite terrible conflicts and disasters — we expect that 80 million more people will lift themselves out of extreme poverty by next September.

If we work together to grow our economies, invest more in education and health, and protect people from disasters, we can make this number go from just 80 to 100 million lifted out of poverty next year. We accept this challenge, at the World Bank Group. Push us! Demand more from your leaders! We shouldn’t suffer from a poverty of aspiration! If we work together, we can build a world that is more prosperous and just — for all of us!”

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Co-Chairs Bill & Melinda Gates

Melinda: “If anyone ever tells you we can’t do anything about global poverty and disease – tell them this: We have cut extreme poverty and disease, over the past 25 years, in half.“

Bill: “If we’re going to make the progress we need over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, we need you.”

Melinda: “We need you to hold your leaders accountable the leaders who made promises this week in New York.”

European Commission, Vice President Frans Timmermans committed to increase support for the Syrian refugee crisis by €500 million, saying:

“Images speak loud and the ones we just saw are heart wrenching. Syria is a crisis from hell. Countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey have given a safe haven to millions of refugees.

They urgently need more help. And the European Union commits to increase our support substantially. We have set up a Trust Fund for Syrian refugees in those countries: it’s a regional fund, with a regional scope – and we commit to increase it by an additional 500 million euros.

We want this money to focus on education, livelihoods, food security. To target especially children and young people. And we guarantee that this funding will not be at the expense of our existing development aid budget.

We’ll push hard to get individual European countries to match that money with contributions from their national budgets so that we can reach 1 billion euros. All the Europeans out there – write to your governments, tell them to sign up! Syria needs our help. Thank you.”

 

CATERPILLAR Foundation, President Michele Sullivan launched the new Together Strong campaign, in support of many of the Global Goals:

“We believe that collaboration, not competition, is the key to success. Working together, global citizens around the world have been a powerful force for change over the past few years. You have helped achieve game-changing successes in education for girls and women around the world, sustainable agriculture, clean water and sanitation.

Now, with the launch of Together Stronger campaign, we are making a major commitment to promote the kinds of collaborations that will make sustainable change possible — bringing clean water, healthy food, gender equality, security and a path to prosperity to those without.”

ISSUE SPECIFIC COMMITMENTS

GIRLS & WOMEN

Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven committed to improve sanitation for 60 million people in the next 15 years.

“Over the next 15 years, Sweden’s 10 million inhabitants will support efforts to improve sanitation to 60 million people throughout the world.”

Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg committed to increase WSH funding by at least 6 million dollars, which is set affect more than 600,000 lives.

“Norway plans to increase its support for water and sanitation by at least 6 million dollars next year.”

Turkey, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu committed to call on world leaders to deliver on reducing the gender gap by 25% over 10 years.

“Last year, world leaders … agreed to reduce the gap between men and women in the workforce by 25% over the next 10 years. As the Chair of G20 Antalya Summit in November, Turkey will call on world leaders to redouble their efforts to meet this ambitious goal and commit to monitor and report on the progress they are making to create a better life for girls and women. A new G20 engagement group – the Women-20 – will be dedicated specifically to improving gender empowerment.

If we achieve our goal, 100 million more women will get access to fair and equal work around the world. Global citizens, Turkey has heard your voices loud and clear. I am calling on all G20 leaders to prioritize the needs of women in the workforce and society for a more peaceful, inclusive world.”

Rwanda, First Daughter, Ange Kagame reaffirms commitment to increase funding for hygiene.

“My country has committed to increasing hygiene budget lines to reach at least 0.5% GDP by 2020 through the Ngor Declaration, because in Rwanda we recognize the importance of water and sanitation, particularly hygiene and handwashing.

 

As an advocate of gender equality, I know this cannot be achieved when girls are the most impacted by inadequate access to clean water and sanitation. That is why I stand with my fellow Rwandans in reiterating the importance of hygiene and handwashing by calling on the UN General Assembly to make this a priority in implementing the new Global Goals.”

South Africa, WASH Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, committed as chair of G77, endorse Global Goal 6 on water, sanitation and hygiene, and commit to campaign to for a specific hygiene indicator in the final targets.

“South Africa is the current chair of the G77. I am pleased to announce our support for Sustainable Development Goal 6, which focuses on access to sustainable water and sanitation for all. Water is an important resource to ensure healthy living and a simple but crucial exercise such as washing your hands is a very important health and life skill that we often take for granted.”

World Bank, President Jim Yong Kim reported back on the $15 billion, five year commitment the bank made from the Global Citizen Festival stage in 2014.

“I’m proud to say we’ve already provided $4 billion dollars, which will give at least 20 million people access to safe sanitation and water. We’re helping countries protect their citizens and educate them about healthy behaviors — especially children.”

H&M Conscious Foundation, Acting Global Manager, Maria Bystedt, commitment to $1.3m donation for sanitation programs in India to affect lives of 45,000 people.

“Providing the world with access to safe water and sanitation is so important and that is why the H&M Conscious Foundation is donating 1.3 million USD to a 3 year project in the town of Khurdha, in India. We do this in collaboration with Practical Action, an international development charity that uses technology to challenge poverty.”

EDUCATION

Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, committed to double their contribution to Global Partnership for Education over next 3 years, and endorsed the goal of all children receiving 12 years of education.

“We must ensure that every child can have 12 years of free, safe, quality education. We can use the Global Citizen Festival as our collective megaphone to call for a massive increase in education funding. We will use The Global Partnership for Education as a vital tool. We are also doubling our funding to GPE over the next three years.”

United Kingdom, Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening committed to get 6.5 million additional girls into school in the next 5 years.

“For me personally, the global goals are fundamentally about achieving equality for girls and women. Too many girls and women around the world are invisible outside the home. Today I can announce that over the next five years the UK will help 6.5 million more girls go to school, stay in school and learn. This is on top of our work helping millions of girls and women get jobs, land rights, bank accounts and access to family planning.” [check against delivery]

United States, Deputy Secretary of State, Heather Higginbottom called on behalf of the US Government for all children to have access to quality education.

“Every girl and boy deserves access to quality education. The United States is firmly committed to ensuring educational opportunities for all … through strategic investments like the more than 1 billion dollars the U.S invests each year to improve education around the world, including through the Global Partnership for Education.”

 

HEALTH

Malta, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, committed to put polio eradication on the agenda for forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and call on all countries to support eradication.

“When the leaders of 53 countries, representing 2.1 billion people, meet in Malta in a few months time, I am determined to make history. Tonight, I commit to making the eradication of polio a ‎priority at our Summit. I will seek a renewal in global commitment to end polio once and for all.”

Luxembourg, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, contributed €500,000 to polio eradication efforts to affect the lives of 1.1 million children.

“My country has always been a strong supporter of polio eradication. This is why, today, Luxembourg pledges an additional €500,000 to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. I hope others will follow this lead.”

 

Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos, committed to reduce maternal mortality rate in rural areas by 25% by 2018, which is set to affect 2.3 million lives.

“It is because of you, because of the Global Poverty Project, and all the thousands of people gathered today at the Global Citizen Festival that we know it is possible to marshal the forces of good around a common goal in order to change the world forever.  Many of you have written to me. You expressed a concern that we share deeply in our hearts. My dear global citizens, I hear you. Colombia hears you. So I will make a pledge to you today. The government of Colombia commits itself to establishing a very concrete goal to achieve by the year 2018 to reduce by 25% the maternal mortality rate in rural areas of our country.”

Japan, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, committed to form and lead an international alliance for Universal Health Coverage, as part of Global Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being.

“To attain health for all, it is essential to realize Universal Health Coverage. Japan will strive to form and lead an international alliance, which will be the driving force for the achievement of this goal. Together we can realize a world in which no one is left behind.”

FOOD & NUTRITION

Malawi, Vice President Saulos Chilima committed that by 2024, food and nutrition security will be achieved in Malawi, and to reduce the rates of childhood stunting to 10% and underweight to 5%.

“Malawi stands ready to meet the Global Goals by consolidating the gains it has made over the last decade. We will not only achieve food and nutrition security for citizens, but also reduce the rates of stunting to 10% and underweight to 5% by 2024, 6 years before the Global Goals.”

Rwanda, President Paul Kagame, supported the Global Goals and noted Rwanda’s progress:

“To achieve the Global Goal of ending hunger, we must make women’s role in agriculture and in nutrition a top priority. In Rwanda we have omitted laws that prevented women from owning and inheriting land. Millions of computerized land titles have since been issued, the majority to women. We can do much more by working together to make the sustainable development goals a reality.”

United States, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) calls for the passage of the Food for Peace Reform Act, which could lead to roughly $300 million in savings, allowing the United States to reach six to nine million more people each year:

“We need a new approach to food aid that reaches more people faster in times of dire need. A bill I’ve introduced with Republican Senator Bob Corker, named the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015, will make this critical lifesaving change in American food aid. Thanks, global citizens, for raising your voices in support of food aid reform.”

Although not able to attend the Festival, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added:

“The Food for Peace Reform Act will help us deliver lifesaving food to those in need more quickly, at a lower cost, reaching up to nine million more suffering people. Reorganizing this vital food aid program in a more sensible way also will allow us to better promote stability around the world. Thanks to all the participants in the Global Citizen campaign, we are able to build awareness and gain even more support for this legislation that can impact the lives of millions around the world.”

And, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ed Royce (R-CA) also pledged his support despite not being able to join the event:  “At this time of unprecedented humanitarian need, making food aid more efficient is essential and overdue.”

REFUGEE CRISIS

Chime for Change, Co-Founder Salma Hayek Pinault

“More than two million children have sought safety outside of Syria. We are now witness to the worst refugee crisis since the 2nd world war and the nightmare of their plight gets worse by the day.”

Jordan, Queen Rania Al Abdullah

“For millions, this is their darkest hour. Their time of greatest need. But it’s also your time. You can

show the world that all lives matter. Today, we call on the international community to unite and extend

the hand of humanity to those who are risking their lives in search of safety, peace and security. We call on leaders to honor their obligations towards refugees and to increase aid to the Syrian crisis.”

European Commission, Vice President Frans Timmermans committed to increase support for the Syrian refugee crisis by €500 million, saying:

“Images speak loud and the ones we just saw are heart wrenching. Syria is a crisis from hell. Countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey have given a safe haven to millions of refugees.

They urgently need more help. And the European Union commits to increase our support substantially. We have set up a Trust Fund for Syrian refugees in those countries: it’s a regional fund, with a regional scope – and we commit to increase it by an additional 500 million euros.

We want this money to focus on education, livelihoods, food security. To target especially children and young people. And we guarantee that this funding will not be at the expense of our existing development aid budget.

 

We’ll push hard to get individual European countries to match that money with contributions from their national budgets so that we can reach 1 billion euros. All the Europeans out there – write to your governments, tell them to sign up! Syria needs our help. Thank you.”

About the Global Citizen Festival

Proud core partners of the 2015 Global Citizen Festival include: presenting partner Gucci and the CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Unilever, YouTube, TIDAL, Google, iHeartRadio, Clear Channel Outdoor, msnbc, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, H&M, and T-Mobile. Supporting partners are BBC Worldwide, Universal Music Group Distribution, Pratt Foundation, Waislitz Foundation, The Huffington Post, Milk Studios, RYOT and Riot House.

The Festival has also partnered with leading non-profit groups: action/2015; CARE; Concern Worldwide U.S.; The Earth Institute; Every Woman, Every Child; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; The Global Partnership for Education; Global Polio Eradication Initiative; Heifer International; The Hunger Project; Kiva; The ONE Campaign; Opportunity International; Oxfam America; Pencils of Promise; RESULTS; United Nations Foundation; UNICEF; Save the Children Action Network; USA for UNHCR; WaterAid; World Bank Group; World Vision; Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

For more information about the Festival, the commitments, and how to join the movement, visit: www.globalcitizen.org.

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