Global Citizen Festival: Ban, Stevie Wonder and tens of thousands unite to end poverty

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on stage with UN Messenger of Peace Stevie Wonder at the Global Citizen Festival at Central Park’s Great Lawn. Photo: UN Information Centres

30 September 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined United Nations Messenger of Peace Stevie Wonder and an audience of an estimated 60,000 people this weekend to raise their voices to end extreme poverty worldwide, at the second annual Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park.

“There is so much energy here tonight. We can power the world,” said the Secretary-General, who was introduced by Mr. Wonder as he closed the concert, which took place on Saturday.

The focus of this year’s festival is celebrating success and accelerating progress to a world without extreme poverty by 2030. The concert is initiated by the Global Poverty Project which is campaigning to secure new commitments to health, education, women’s equality and global partnerships. The enthusiastic audience had received free tickets to the concert online after helping to spread the word or by volunteering to help end poverty.

“The United Nations thanks you for taking action to end poverty,” Mr. Ban added. “Remember: The UN starts with “U”.

The festival, which also featured Alicia Keys and Bono, among others, coincided with the UN General Assembly high-level debate at the UN Headquarters.

There were no high-level speeches at the festival, except for civil society which took to the stage to talk about their causes. Instead, the audience danced and sang along during the five-hour show to tunes that included Mr. Wonder’s hits “Superstition” and “Isn’t She Lovely.”

Other performers included John Mayer, Kings of Leon, and Will.i.am, as well as Mr. Wonder’s special guests Janelle Monae and Maxwell.

Eradicating poverty was chosen by the latest UN General Assembly President John Ashe as the overarching theme of this year’s UN General Assembly, which concludes tomorrow.

In addition to speaking in their national capacities to the General Assembly, world leaders met to hammer out the parameters of a post-2015 sustainability agenda, which will success the eight anti-poverty targets know as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

At the start of the debate on 24 September, the UN planned to hear from 84 heads of State, 41 heads of Government, 11 Deputy Prime Ministers and 65 Foreign Ministers on sustainable development, poverty eradication, climate change, human rights, and a range of peace and security issues.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Ban calls on political, business leaders for final push to realize anti-poverty goals

Related Stories





In-depth Interviews