The curtain has fallen on this year’s Global Citizen Festival. The festival, organised by the Global Citizen Movement, recognises the power of advocacy and the influence that individuals can have joining together to ‘defeat poverty, demand equity, and defend the planet’1. The event brings together artists, activists, philanthropists, global leaders and business leaders to achieve the biggest impact possible.
The festival is traditionally held in New York City, coinciding with the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, however, this year’s event was simultaneously held in Accra to mark the 65th anniversary of Ghana’s independence. What makes this festival unique is that tickets are not for sale. To attend, individuals must take part in activities in support of the Global Citizen Movement’s activism such as volunteering, signing and sharing petitions, or campaigning.
Fans in New York’s Central Park were treated to headline acts including Charlie Puth, Mariah Carey and Metallica; while artists such as Usher, Stormzy and SZA took to the stage at Black Star Square in Accra. This joint event provided a fantastic opportunity for artists from all over the world to contribute to a great cause.
Over $2.4 billion in pledges were generated to combat extreme poverty and disease and represented a fantastic achievement by artists and peacebuilders. While the huge financial commitments this event generates are important, these events are about more than just raising money. They are about influencing the next generation of peacebuilders and activists and contributing to a culture of change.
Global recession continues to loom on the horizon, while food insecurity is on the rise with 3.4 billion people predicted to be suffering from this by 2050. Displacement as a result of conflict and climate change continues to increase, with research from 2022’s Global Peace Index showing in 2022 over 88 million people were displaced, the highest number ever recorded.
The United Nation’s Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed spoke at this years’ festival, calling for the event to act as a catalyst for equitable climate action, gender equality and social justice. Ms Mohammed claimed that the key to achieving these aims, or the “To-do list”, are the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)2.
The SDGs represent a comprehensive and structured framework that can encourage global action to be taken by 2030 on the critical issues facing the world. IEP’s research includes reports measuring the progress of particular SDGs, and the messages and aims of these goals align with those of IEP.
The equitable distribution of resources is one of the pillars of Positive Peace, which are the factors that underpin a peaceful society. It is this pillar that particularly aligns with the goals of the Global Citizen Movement, as identified by Ms Mohammed.
The involvement of celebrities and artists is an invaluable tool to help drive action. Metallica, for example, have used their position to donate millions and contribute to a number of philanthropic ventures. Stormzy has been nominated as one of Time Magazine’s next generation leaders, thanks to his significant activism and charitable work both within the UK and globally3,4. These artists have global reach and audiences, and with this comes the potential to inspire millions. Youth peacebuilding is critical to ensure a sustainable future, and artists can act as role models to inspire this change. While the events at the UN Headquarters can feel distant and somewhat removed from everyday life, grassroots movements like this ensure that anyone can play a part and have a voice in actualising change.
While the celebrations associated with this year’s Global Citizen Festival have wrapped up, there are a number of ways that you can still contribute and take an active role in peacebuilding.
There are plenty of advocacy movements available to join, for those seeking to have an impact on peacebuilding. Examples include Rotary International as well as Youth and Peace In Action, while the Global Citizen Movement is open to anybody who wants to contribute to eliminating poverty and ending hunger.
A great way of seeking action for the issues that matter to you is to contact your community’s representatives, such as your local MP, and ask them to take action on your behalf. This can be a powerful tool.
IEP’s Positive Peace Academy is a free short course that introduces the Positive Peace framework and IEP’s world-renowned research. This course equips students with the knowledge and tools needed to contribute to peaceful societal change. Taking the course is a great way to learn how you can contribute to building peace.
If you’d like to learn more about peacebuilding in action, IEP’s reports and resources are completely free, and available to everyone.
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