18 Commitments by World Leaders to Improve Equality, Education, Poverty

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On Saturday, the 2015 Global Citizen Festival was held on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park. The event not only attracted over 60,000 people in the audience and millions who watched live throughout the day, but also world and business leaders who renewed their commitments to the newly launched “Global Goals for Sustainable Development,” which were officially adopted by 193 countries at the United Nations on Friday, September 25.

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.

This year, it featured performances by Pearl Jam, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, with special performances from Ariana Grande, Common, Tori Kelly, and Sunidhi Chauhan, and a one hour broadcast special based on the Global Citizen Festival will be aired in more than 70 countries this week.

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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.

Without further ado, here are 18 of those commitments made by governments and leaders around the world.

Girls & Women

1) Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven: “Over the next 15 years, Sweden’s 10 million inhabitants will support efforts to improve sanitation to 60 million people throughout the world.”

2) Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg: “Norway plans to increase its support for water and sanitation by at least 6 million dollars next year,” which is set affect more than 600,000 lives.

3) Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu: “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.”

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4) Rwanda’s First Daughter, Ange Kagame: “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.”

5) South Africa’s WASH Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, committed as chair of G77, saying that, “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.”

6) 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 saying that, “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.”

7) H&M Conscious Foundation’s Acting Global Manager, Maria Bystedt: “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,” affecting the lives of 45,000 people.


8) Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg: “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.”

9) United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening: “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.”

10) United States’ Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom: “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.”


11) Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat: “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.”

12) Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel: “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 (affecting the lives of 1.1 million children). I hope others will follow this lead.”

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13) Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos: ”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,” which is set to affect 2.3 million lives.

14) Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe: “To attain health for all, it is essential to realize Universal Health Coverage (as part of Global Goal 3: ‘Good Health and Well-being’). 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

15) Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima: “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.”

16) Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame: “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.”

17) 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, “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.”

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Refugee Crisis

18) European Commissions’ Vice President Frans Timmermans: “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.”



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