Nigeria: Global Citizen - Ending Covid-19 and Setting Roadmap Against Poverty in Developing Countries

24 September 2021

The current global situation calls for drastic actions given the numerous challenges that include the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty in poor African countries, climate change and inequality.

World leaders have not played enough roles in addressing these challenges as they continue to allow politics to affect key issues relating with human lives and deteriorating weather conditions across the globe.

Humanitarian organizations, not-for-profit organization and advocacy bodies from countries have however stepped up their efforts to rescue the situation.

These interventions have helped to changes lives and ameliorate the suffering of millions across the world.

A leading international advocacy organiation, Global Citizen, supported by companies and individuals, has realized the need to address some these challenges and has launched an initiative tagged "Recovery Plan for the World" Campaign.

This initiative, among other things, seeks to end COVID-19 and kick-start the global recovery in 2021 in the light of the devastating effect of the global pandemic.

Since 2009, Global Citizen, has taken over 28.4 million actions. Today, these actions, in combination with high-level advocacy work, have led to more than $35.4 billion being distributed to its partners around the world, impacting 1.09 billion lives in the fight to end extreme poverty.

However, the initiative, a year-long campaign aimed to help end COVID-19 focuses on calling on governments, philanthropists, and the private sector for financial commitments to kickstart a global recovery.

Ahead of October's G20 Summit, and COP26, the Global Citizen Live campaign will call on world leaders, major corporations and foundations help end the pandemic by donating at least 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to those most in need by September.

Global Citizen also amid at reverting the Hunger Crisis affecting 41 million people on the brink of famine by contributing at least $6 billion to famine relief efforts and the urgent provision of millions of meals.

The campaign is said to be aimed at "resuming education by getting 4.5 million kids most in need back to learning by contributing $400 million towards education; combating catastrophic climate change by getting the world's largest companies to join the Race to Zero this year, contribute to saving and restoring billions of trees, commit to becoming carbon neutral and developing verified science-based targets to reach net zero emissions."

With the growth of COVID-19 infections in sub-Saharan Africa now among the fastest in the world, and still less than three per cent of Africans receiving a dose compared to over 50 per cent in the United States, world leaders must finally act with the energy and urgency needed to stave off further catastrophe.

The Co-Founder and Chief Policy, Impact and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen, Mick Sheldrick, in an interview recently said as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that more than 160 million people could be pushed back into extreme poverty by the end of this year.

He said, '"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.

"First and foremost, of course, we need to end the pandemic for everyone, including by providing universal access to the vaccine. Yet despite lofty rhetoric, rich countries have administered almost 80 per cent of all vaccines around the world. Meanwhile, only 0.3 per cent have been administered across poorer nations.

"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 stressed that 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," he said.

The Country Director for Global Citizen, Maimuna Maibe, said the International organization realized that as the world works to address the health impacts of the pandemic for everyone, it must also address the social, economic, and environmental hardships that have been brought on by or exacerbated by COVID-19.

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.

With over 10 million monthly advocates, Global Citizen voices have the power to drive lasting change around sustainability, equality, and humanity and it is determined to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2030.

On tackling extreme poverty in poor countries

Meanwhile, the International organization is set to launch Global Citizen Live targeted at tackling extreme poverty in poor countries, most especially in Africa.

Global Citizen Live will call on leaders to deliver by September: 1 billion trees planted and preserved to help prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels by curbing emissions and supporting 1t.org; 1 billion vaccines to the poorest countries; meals for the 41 million people on the brink of famine.

Global Citizen Live mission is to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2030 and a Music Concert event is expected to be hosted in Lagos, Nigeria. Pan-African broadcast partners are AIM Group, MultiChoice and The SABC.

Performances from Lagos will be given by Tiwa Savage, Davido, Femi Kuti and Made Kuti, among others. Burna Boy will perform from New York, Sho Madjozi and Muzi from Johannesburg, while Angelique Kidjo will perform in Paris on September 25, 2021.

"I am honored to help bring Global Citizen Live to Lagos, as we lift the voices of Africans everywhere. But what is taking place on the continent right now is a tragedy.

"There is no reason that one per cent of Nigerians have been vaccinated against COVID while countries talk of booster shots. The G7 urgently needs to donate at least 1 billion doses by September. It's time for our leaders to lead and act," charged Femi Kuti.

Sheldrick explained that the Live concert initiative is to encourage and enable decision-makers--in politics as well as business--to hold themselves accountable to their constituencies and do the right thing for the sake of current and future generations.

Sheldrick explained further that, "From The Concert for Bangladesh in 1974, to Make Poverty History in 2005, we have seen the power of music and entertainment in mobilising mass action in favour of solutions that work, that positively impact both people and the planet simultaneously.

"This is why our model at Global Citizen is 'Pop Meets Policy.' Through various campaigns, we bring together top artists, tens of thousands of fans and activists, and millions of online participants to champion several specific initiatives to end extreme poverty and defend the planet.

"The thing about artists, particularly world-famous ones, is that they have a megaphone and a base of fans who are willing to listen. And when those fans step up and speak truth to power alongside those artists, those in positions of power are forced to listen."

Sheldrick added that, "Even before COVID-19, we knew that both humanity and the planet were facing a series of connected and compounding crises. In fact, we'd been planning the series of global events to kick off a decade of impact in 2020 and then had to pivot our strategies in real time to create One World Together At Home.

"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."

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 who will engage support from the private sector in driving new commitments toward the campaign's policy objectives.

In Lagos, 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.

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."

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed 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."

Group Managing Director Access Bank, Dr Herbert Wigwe, said, "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."

At the New York City event, Nigerian Grammy Award winner Burna Boy will share the stage with music stars Coldplay, Cyndi Lauper, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Meek Mill and Shawn Mendes while Beninese songstress and four-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo will be performing at the Paris event alongside Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat, DJ Snake, H.E.R., Christine and the Queens, and the Black Eyed Peas.

Additions to the international line-up of artistes include Andrea Bocelli performing from Tuscany, BTS from Seoul, Green Day from Los Angeles, Keith Urban, and Ricky Martin from various locations in Las Vegas, Lorde and My Morning Jacket from various locations in New York City, Metallica from Louisville and, in partnership with Sony Music Latin, Camilo from Madrid and Lali from Buenos Aires.

Straight from the Amazon Rainforest, the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil represented by Chief Mapu of the Huni Kuin, Aldeia Mutum of the Yawanawa, and Owera (Kunumi MC) from the Guarani Nation join Alok in premiering a unique collaboration project showcasing indigenous culture.

Global Citizen Live is part of the once-in-a-generation day of unity across seven continents, to be broadcast over 24 hours around the world on Apple Music, Apple TV App, YouTube, Twitter and also aired on partner televesion and radio stations across different regions. Global Citizen Live will call for wealthiest nations to deliver on their promise to give $100 billion annually to address the climate needs of developing countries.

Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Geoffrey Onyeama, said, "As we humans spend billions of dollars in search of newer worlds in outer space, Global Citizen Live brings us back down to earth by reminding the global community that charity should begin at home and we must preserve our earth and be our brothers' and sisters' keepers. We owe it to ourselves and generations yet unborn. Space can wait!."

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "As wealthy countries are well on their way to reopening and returning to normal life, we now face a two-track pandemic of haves and have-nots. Over 75 per cent of the more than 4 billion doses administered to date have occurred in just 10 countries while only one per cent of people in low-income countries have received a dose.

"We cannot disregard this gross inequity or become complacent. This remains a global crisis, with emerging variants emanating from under vaccinated parts of the world continuing to threaten everyone's lives and livelihoods.

"It will only end with global equitable access to vaccines and other life-saving medical supplies. That's why I am pleased to support Global Citizen Live and join Global Citizen in their calls to public and private leaders to share the doses, financing, knowledge, technology, and political solidarity needed to end this pandemic."

Maibe noted that the international organization aimed to engaged citizens using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030.

According to Maibe, 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

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