The 2015 Global Citizen Festival lit up New York City’s Central Park Saturday with its loudest call yet to end poverty by 2030.
Tens of thousands of people flocked to the Great Lawn for the fourth year of the festival with a star-studded lineup of musicians, world leaders and global citizens. Dynamic performances by Beyoncé, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Pearl Jam revved up the crowd as world leaders pledged their support to the global goals.
“This is the biggest year for global citizen by far. The biggest year for the movement,” Hugh Evans, The Global Poverty Project (GPP) CEO told MSNBC during the event.
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Leaders like first lady Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and teen activist Malala Yousafzai gave impassioned pleas encouraging world leaders to join forces to advance educational resources for girls and women.
Obama introduced a new campaign aimed to increase access to education for girls called the #62MillionGirls campaign.
“Right now, 62 million girls are not in school,” the first lady said. “And make no mistake about it; giving them that chance is at the core of our work to end global poverty.”
“No one leader would want their child deprived of an education,” Yousafzai said as she called on leaders to see education as a “basic human right.” “So why ignore the rest of the world’s children?”
The energized festival attendees earned free tickets to the event by completing action journeys, like encouraging a world leader to put clean water, sanitation and hygiene in the hands of people all around the world or tweeting to the leaders urging support for countries severely impacted by pollution. The journeys all supported the global goals, including but not limited to ending extreme poverty by 2030, tackling climate change and advancing educational resources for women.
According to The Global Poverty Project, 90 million people have been lifted out of poverty since the 2014 concert, which is measured as living on less than $1.25 USD a day.
The concert was coincidentally timed with the annual General Assembly meeting of world leaders at the United Nations just a few miles from the concert, where other world leaders at the festival pledged their commitment to the causes.
Evans said this will be an “accountability moment” for the world leaders who pledge their support.
“It not about massive amounts of money being announced, it’s about follow through,” Evans said. “We’re looking for this notion of holistic development. The millennium development goals have really been a time when that was kind of the West versus the South, and whereas now we are looking to actually talk about everybody being a part of this process of economic development.”
Concertgoers and the millions who tuned in online and on MSNBC were in for a treat with surprise performances by Ariana Grande and Tori Kelly, and later in the show rapper Common and former police lead Sting performed his song “One World (Not Three).” Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder invited Beyoncé onstage to perform Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”
The festival, hosted by Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, Stephen Colbert, Salma Hayek Pinault, Kerry Washington, and Olivia Wilde, also featured appearances by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Vice President Joe Biden, Bono, and Bill and Melinda Gates. Big Bird joined World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim to give an updated on the bank’s commitment sanitation and resources to improve toilet use and water supply.