Today, our team at the Global Poverty Project announced our biggest ever event and campaign – the Global Festival.
It culminates with a 60,000 person music concert on the Great Lawn at Central Park, an iconic location for what we hope will be an iconic event, taking place at the end of the first week of the UN General Assembly.
There’s a huge amount of time, energy and money that goes into an event like this, so we spent a lot of time thinking about whether a concert is really the best way to work towards our vision of a world without extreme poverty.
And, given the world that we’re in right now, we believe that the answer is yes.
Over the last 18 months, our team in the USA have relentlessly toured the country, talking to more than 160 community groups, colleges and schools about extreme poverty. We’ve shared 1.4 Billion Reasons, our interactive presentation with 24,000 people, and along the way, we’ve learnt a lot about the knowledge, interests, assumptions and views of the American public.
We’ve seen how generous Americans are, but also how misconceptions about aid lead people to think that poverty’s getting worse, and that we can’t make a difference.
It’s something I’ve seen first hand – from talking about our complicity in corruption in the Hollywood Hills, to being asked about sending clothes to Africa whilst in New Jersey, or debating the merits of agricultural subsidies in North Carolina.
Coming out of all of these conversations, we were struck by an urgent need to cut through the noisy media market, and change the story that the public are hearing and telling about extreme poverty. We wanted to share the amazing progress that’s being made fighting extreme poverty, and show how the American public are playing their part in making this happen.
We wanted to show how fighting poverty is going to take more than just our donations, it’s going to take our voices, calling on our governments and businesses to do their bit for the world’s poor. And, in the lead up to an election, we wanted to start a conversation about the role that America should play in the world.
We wanted to create a space for Americans to hear the voices of the world’s poor, and see their stories first hand – which we’ll increasingly be doing as we release content on Global Citizen.
We wanted to share our conviction that we can be global citizens as well as American citizens, and that we stand united in the belief that by giving every child a chance to thrive, our generation can end extreme poverty.
As we spoke with our partners, advisors and supporters, we decided that to do all of these things, we needed to create a moment that could unite people who shared our vision, and that would create a platform to leverage new commitments for the world’s poor.
The Global Festival is that moment – a time for tens of thousands of global citizens to come together, having earned their tickets for the actions they’ve taken. A platform for our diverse range of NGO partners to make new commitments to help in the fight against extreme poverty – hopefully hundreds of millions of dollars worth of them. And, we hope, a moment to focus the American public and media on their role in fighting extreme poverty.
As we launch the Global Festival, we’re conscious that the movement to end extreme poverty is a broad one – bringing together a people from rich and poor countries alike, secular and faith groups, businesses and governments, individuals and charities. Our NGO partners – Earth Institute, World Food Program USA, Pencils of Promise, Global Partnership for Education, Half the Sky, Rotary International, World Vision, Malaria No More, Rainforest Foundation and US Fund for UNICEF – represent a small slice of this diversity, encompassing a range of approaches, sizes, focus issues and worldviews. But, what binds them together, and what binds us together, is a commitment to doing all that we can to bring about a world without extreme poverty in a generation.
Because we believe that extreme poverty is unfair, unnecessary and unjust. The world’s poor are working hard to lift themselves out of poverty, and they’re having great success at it. But, all too often, it’s the actions and assumptions of people like us that trap others in extreme poverty.
It’s our aim with the Global Festival to challenge those actions and assumptions, to share the progress that has been made fighting poverty, to prove that things can get better, and that we can play a small role in making them better.
And, it’s our hope that you’ll join with us.