Cape Town — "The urgency to get a vaccine to everyone, everywhere cannot be underestimated. As a country, we will be joining efforts to help the world recover better by ending the pandemic as a priority, addressing food security and hunger, getting all our children back to school, addressing climate change, and protecting the most marginalized. We must ensure that no one is left behind."
Global Citizen, with support from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and the World Health Organization (WHO) - launched the global campaign on February 23.
The year-long campaign, launched by the International advocacy organization, is a five-point policy plan and series of events that centre on ending Covid-19 for all; ending the hunger crisis; resuming learning everywhere; protecting the planet, and advancing equity for all.
Singer, songwriter, and activist Billie Eilish, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Global Citizen Ambassador Hugh Jackman, President Cyril Ramaphosa, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and many more, attended the special media event which set the stage for the world to unite to end the pandemic and get back on track to meet the United Nations' Global Goals.
Tedros welcomed Global Citizen's initiative, saying it complemented the United Nations system's focus for a sustainable recovery to the novel coronavirus pandemic, including the WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from Covid-19.
"Covid-19's impacts go far beyond health and have deeply affected all areas of life. That's why we must act together to build a durable response to protect communities from future emergencies, build resilient systems to withstand shocks, and reap the benefits of sustainable growth," he said.
"We've seen how we can create change when we come together and use our voices. So we got to take action to get everybody access to Covid-19 vaccines as quickly as possible. At the same time, we got to actively address the climate crisis and strive to curb Carbon dioxide emissions, and protect biodiversity. I want to ask all of my fans to join me and take action in support of this campaign," said Eilish.
Global Citizen is advocating for additional climate finance, supporting low carbon economies and development, and promoting carbon neutrality, in line with preventing global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. Global Citizen says its advocacy efforts will focus on supporting underserved communities and people living in extreme poverty.
Global Citizen Ambassador and Hollywood star Hugh Jackman called for people around the world to join Global Citizen, an organisation he says galvanises millions of people and brings their voices together.
"We need to curb the hunger crisis, we need to protect the planet, we need to get kids back to school. Just join us, call on governments, take action, write letters, volunteer. Last year I joined some of my fellow X-Men to be part of the Global Goals," he said.
To advance equity for all, Global Citizen is calling on the private sector to lean in through transformative commitments to people-centered justice, gender equality, racial equity, the inclusion of persons with disabilities, and support for human rights and justice defenders worldwide.
"I believe the power of the people to come together and take action to really move the needle. It doesn't matter if you have money, old or young, what sex or race you are," said Jackman.
Global Citizen is also calling on all wealthy countries to donate excess doses to other countries in need to ensure vaccines are made globally available to everyone, everywhere before vaccine-resistant variants begin to emerge and gather pace.
The coronavirus pandemic has added fuel to the fire of a growing hunger crisis in Africa and the world at large. It has exacerbated existing inequalities and vulnerabilities while pushing millions of people into food insecurity as a result of spiraling unemployment and the economic disruption caused by the disease. Although Covid-19 worsened the issues surrounding food because of national lockdowns orders which have disrupted existing food supply chains, caused major reductions in tourism and further reduced remittances sent home by migrant works, many African countries have repeatedly faced food insecurity challenges before.
While Covid-19 has touched every individual on the planet, the pandemic's impact on the most vulnerable, especially those living in extreme poverty - has been devastating, leaving people worse off than they were, even just a year ago.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, some of the key drivers to food insecurity across Africa are climate change, conflict, and economic downtowns, and political instability. Moreover, the African region is still recovering from the worst locust invasion. More than 1.5 billion children have had their education disrupted and millions of families are facing starvation. In Africa alone, confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached 3,846,159, with over 100,000 deaths.
To end the hunger crisis Global Citizen is advocating for increases in long-term investments to ensure food systems remain resilient and production is not disrupted during the recovery process.
The coronavirus pandemic forced schools to shut abruptly, exposing the huge inequality between impoverished and privileged pupils as learning moved online and schoolgirls faced exploitation. The outbreak interrupted learning, especially for children in low-income households. Those whose families lacked the financial means to afford computers and Wi-Fi internet access were immediately at a disadvantage. And parents, many of whom lacked the skills and capacity to take on the role of a teacher, had to start homeschooling their children at short notice.
Given the impact, one response that has become part of mainstream academia is the digital transformation of the educational sector through online teaching and learning. This has now become the new reality and almost all academic institutions are racing to prepare for this new reality. However, for online teaching to be effective, institutions have to put in place a number of measures. First is an upgrade of the technological infrastructure to support the transition. This will require a substantive capital investment that may be the means of most institutions.
Global Citizen is calling on governments, businesses, and philanthropists to increase investment in global education, and ensure resources and action to prioritize the world's most vulnerable learners, including children that are living through conflict and crisis, girls, and young learners who lack internet access.