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Global Citizen: Transforming lives amid global economy headwinds

The COVID-19 pandemic which caught nations of the world by surprise has altered the dynamics of global economies.

The situation has put the world in need of more humanitarian interventions in order to make the world a better place for many.

Interestingly, a number of not-for-profit organizations and international advocacy groups have risen to the occasion to arrest the resultant crises.

When it comes to touching lives, combating catastrophic climate change, and advocating for equity, Global Citizen, a New York-based international advocacy body, has played a critical role of note in recent times.

Through its landmark initiative tagged Recovery Plan for the World, a year-long campaign to help end COVID-19, the international advocacy agency has focused on calling on governments, philanthropists, and the private sector for financial commitments to kickstart a global recovery.

Notably, part of its adopted strategy is to campaign at October’s G20 Summit and COP26, and the aim is to call on world leaders, major corporations and foundations to defend the planet and defeat poverty.

The campaign has focused on calling on world leaders to help end the pandemic by donating at least one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the neediest by this September ending.

The initiative also seeks to revert the Hunger Crisis affecting 41 million people on the brink of famine by contributing at least $6 billion to famine relief efforts.

Part of the efforts aimed at tackling famine is to also facilitate the urgent provision of millions of meals and full resumption of education by getting 4.5 million kids that are most in need back to learning by contributing $400million towards education.

Global Citizen has been calling on world leaders to combat catastrophic climate change by getting the world’s largest companies to join the Race to Zero this year.

The growth of the COVID-19 infections in sub-Saharan Africa is now among the fastest in the world, while only less than three per cent of Africans are receiving a dose of the vaccines compared to over 50 per cent in the United States.

Hence, Global Citizen has continued to charge world leaders to act with the energy and urgency needed to mitigate further catastrophe.

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Specifically, Global Citizen wants the G7 and EU to share at least one billion doses immediately with those most in need, and to support the proposal by South Africa and India to waive IP around the production of COVID-19 vaccines and other medical tools — backed by over 100 countries.

In Nigeria, Global Citizen is working with the Lagos State Government to create a limited-capacity event in celebration of Nigerians working on the frontline in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The show will be filmed in advance with a fully-vaccinated audience or attendees who have presented a negative PCR test.

Commenting on this, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said, “Lagos State is thrilled to be a part of Global Citizen Live. With the challenges of rising poverty, hunger and vaccine inequity facing Africa, we need businesses and governments around the world to respond to the call of citizens, stand in solidarity with the people of Africa, and commit to defending the planet and defeating poverty and inequality.”

The initiative and others by the organization have been backed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed.

The minister said, “Women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the COVID-19 pandemic – on the frontlines, in various sectors, and in their homes. Every woman and girl should be guaranteed safety in their respective homes, schools, communities, and places of work.

“This is a shared responsibility and through Global Citizen Live, we are calling on key stakeholders across private & public sectors to join hands in accelerating our common goal of ensuring that women are safe and economically empowered.”

Similarly, supporting the group’s initiatives on tackling climate change, COVID-19, among others, the group managing director Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, was quoted as saying “Access Bank strongly aligns with Global Citizen’s goals and objectives, possessing a strong drive to ending COVID-19, addressing the global food crisis, achieving education for all, advancing equity, and protecting the environment.

“In recognition of our responsibilities as an institution/organisation, we have devoted resources to minimise our carbon footprint while also being at the forefront of stimulating environmentally responsible stewardship, development, and sustainability innovation.”

Global Citizen Live is supported by a corporate coalition, including Access Bank in Nigeria, alongside global partners Accenture, Cisco, Citi, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Google, Live Nation, P&G, Salesforce, Verizon, and campaign partners Hilton, WW International, and World Wide Technology which will engage support from the private sector in driving new commitments toward the campaign’s policy objectives.

Global Citizen Live has also demanded wealthiest nations to deliver on promise to donate $100billion annually to address climate needs of developing countries.

The Co-Founder and Chief Policy, Impact and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen, Mick Sheldrick in a recent interview said the organization is a movement that engages citizens by using their collective voice to call for the solutions needed to end the pandemic and ultimately get nations on track to end extreme poverty by 2030.

“Despite progress over many decades, as a result of the pandemic it is estimated that more than 160 million people could be pushed back into extreme poverty by the end of this year,” Sheldrick noted.

He explained further that: “The Recovery Plan for the World campaign provides a roadmap that outlines the most critical actions that the world must take now to end the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the social, economic, and environmental hardships that have been brought on by or exacerbated by COVID-19. This is articulated in Global Citizen’s five campaign pillars: End the COVID-19 pandemic; top the hunger crisis; Resume learning for all children; Protect the planet; and Promote equity and justice for all.”

He said further that the organization, among other stakeholders, seeks to end the pandemic for everyone, including by providing universal access to the vaccine, stressing that rich countries have administered almost 80 percent of all vaccines around the world.

“Meanwhile, only 0.3 percent have been administered across poorer nations,” he added.

The Global Citizen co-founder disclosed that: “So far, the G7 and EU have only pledged to redistribute 575 million excess doses by the end of 2021, and have actually only delivered 170 million. This is far short of the estimated 1.7 billion excess doses that Airfinity forecast that the G7 European Union countries could leave unused this year alone — even after taking into account booster shots.

“These are doses that could be redistributed right now and which should be shared through or in coordination with COVAX. A transparent delivery schedule should also be made public.

“But on top of dose-sharing – which is a short-term measure at best that would not have been necessary had we got equitable distribution right in the first place – the vaccine nationalism we’ve seen through this pandemic has emphasised how badly we need to empower countries and all regions of the world with the opportunity, technology, and know-how to produce vaccines and other life-saving medical tools they need for themselves.”

He also pointed out that: “Pharma companies have had over a year to voluntarily engaged in open sharing of their technology — they simply don’t want to, even with ready-made opportunities to do so through WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool and now via the new Africa mRNA tech transfer hub (for which they could still be financially compensated).

“They need to be compelled, and that means demanding that the US, UK, and Germany put legal and political pressure on companies in their jurisdiction to cooperate. The Biden administration has already stated its support for a waiver on vaccine IP back in May, but has done little since to change the minds of other powerful countries. This needs to change – and it is something we will continue to call for over the coming weeks and months.”

Speaking also, the country director for Global Citizen in Nigeria, Maimuna Maibe, noted that the core objectives of the organisation is to engage citizens, noting that over 28.4 million actions have been taken.

“Today, these actions, in combination with high-level advocacy work, have led to more than $35.4 billion being distributed to our partners around the world, impacting 1.09 billion lives in the fight to end extreme poverty,” she said.

According to her, Global Citizen calls to inspire “those who can make things happen to act together to improve lives. It reaches out to government leaders, businesses, philanthropists, artists, and Citizens.”

Maibe further stressed the organisation’s Recovery Plan For the World is a two-prong campaign to end COVID-19 and kick-start global recovery in 2021 in the light of the devastating global pandemic.

She explained, “It is a roadmap that outlines the most critical actions that the world must take now and throughout 2021 to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At Global Citizen, we realize that as the world works to address the health impacts of the pandemic for everyone, we must also address the social, economic, and environmental hardships that have been brought on by or exacerbated by COVID-19.”

On its Global Citizen Live event, she noted that top-rate artistes will be performing live on September 25, 2021.

This event has received in-kind support from leading media companies, including AIM Group, BellaNaija, Branded Cities, Brut Media, Captivate, Clear Channel Outdoor, Curb Media, Forbes, GSTV, iHeartRadio, Interstate Outdoor, JCDecaux and Arise TV.

Others are the Newscentral TV, Outfront Media, Six Flags Theme Parks, The New York Times, Vanguard Media, Big Cabal Media, Cool FM, Nigeria Info, Wazobia FM, and Wazobia Max TV.

Sheldrick explained that: “Global Citizen Live is a 24-hour global event starting on September 25. Taking place across six continents, it will bring together activists, advocates, community members, and artists to demand that governments, major corporations, and philanthropists work together and focus on the most urgent, interrelated threats hitting those living in poverty the hardest — climate change, vaccine equity, and famine – while there is still time to address them.

“The concert will be broadcast on Saturday 25th September 2021 on Wazobia Max TV, Multichoice and The South African Broadcasting Corporation.

According to the Co-Founder of Global Citizen, the best way for individuals to contribute to Global Citizen is to take action on its platform by downloading the Global Citizen app and registering to be a Global Citizen.

“In terms of corporations, at the moment we are currently campaigning towards businesses to adopt ambitious science based emission reduction targets in line with what is needed to avoid temperature rises greater than 1.5 degrees. After all, just over 160 companies are said to be responsible for 80% of global industrial emissions alone.”

His Nigeria counterpart, Maibe explained that the Lagos event will witness renowned Afrobeat singer-songwriter and activist Femi Kuti performing alongside his hugely talented son Made Kuti, as well as superstar acts Davido and Tiwa Savage.

She said, “We have worked with the Lagos State Government to create a limited-capacity event in celebration of Nigerians working on the frontline in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She hinted that it has received support of Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Foreign Minister of Nigeria and the Lagos State Governor

“It is delightful to work with campaign partner Access Bank and our regional response partners, Slum2School Africa, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), The Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and South African Education Project (SAEP).

Maibe called on individual and stakeholders to join by downloading the Global Citizen app or by visiting its website and registering to be a Global Citizen.

“Once you join Global Citizen, you can take actions such as signing petitions, sharing messages on social media, writing letters to politicians, and much more. With every action you take, you’ll earn points that you can redeem for Rewards, such as digital content and experiences, beauty products, merchandise, tickets, and more,” he said.

The international advocacy organization is also collaborating with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to set up The Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund.

According to Maibe, “Its role is to help transform the lives of vulnerable Nigerians, strengthen healthcare systems, and reskill the Nigerian workforce. But the overriding focus for 2021/2022 is to ensure that an additional one million Nigerians are vaccinated against COVID-19. The focus is on vulnerable Nigerians and people who ordinarily would not be vaccinated.

“In hosting the Global Citizen Live here in Nigeria, the Fund is calling on philanthropists, corporate organisations, Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, public sector institutions and international donor agencies to join hands and support this initiative through donations and advocacy for the cause.”

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