Tim P. Whitby; Tristan Fewings; Jeff Spicer
As some countries’ politicians campaign on nationalism, there are others which see things along more international lines. Global Citizen, an organization that calls for world leaders to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, has held its inaugural Global Citizen Prize at the Royal Albert Hall in London, part of a cross-media event that will see the awards televised on NBC in the US (on December 20 at 8 p.m. EST), Sky TV in the UK (December 21, 7 p.m. GMT), and MSNBC (December 22, 10 p.m. EST and December 31, 11 p.m. EST).
The awards are the first event of Global Citizen’s 2020 campaign, Global Goal Live: the Possible Dream, in partnership with Teneo, working alongside and in support of the United Nations, calling on governments, philanthropists, and the private sector to take responsibility to provide the US$350,000 million needed in the 59 poorest countries.
Richard Curtis, Sting, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Amina J. Mohammed, and Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya were recognized at the awards, hosted by John Legend, with presenters Connie Britton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jason Derulo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, CBE, Leona Lewis, Himesh Patel, Kal Penn, Fran Katsoudas, and Dakota Johnson. Legend, along with Jennifer Hudson, Raphaël Saadiq, Sting, and Stormzy performed musical numbers; Chris Martin, H. E. R., and Jorja Smith also performed.
Guests included Barbara Bach and Ringo Starr, Louise Vongerichten, Isabella Charlotta Poppius, Janette Manrara, Julien Macdonald, Emma Thynn, Emma Freud, James Smith, Krept and Konan, Sean Teale, Harriet Rose, Nina Samuels, Jinny, Dynamo, Nina Samuels, Asim Chaudhry, Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, Nicola Roberts, Betty Bachz, Nukaaka Coster-Waldau, Clara Amfo, Kimberly Wyatt, Katherine Ryan, Wade Briggs, Roxie Nafousi, Amelia Bath, Dr Alex George, Tom York, Vanessa White, Izzy Bizu, Reggie Yates, Pips Taylor, Kimberly Wyatt, Max Rogers, Lady Victoria Hervey, Laura Whitmore, Hozier, Montana Brown, Nina Nesbitt, Tallia Storm, Arizona Muse, Tom York, and Mike Duce,
Curtis received the Global Citizen of the Year prize, for his work for Comic Relief, Sport Relief, Red Nose Day, and Project Everyone. These initiatives have raised over US$1,500 million to fight child poverty internationally. Accepting his award, he said, ‘I obviously don’t deserve this. I was partly responsible for Bridget Jones 2 and Mr Bean, but please, if you’re here or watching, make a mark in your diary in ink: “January 2020: the year I’m going to fight like a lion for our big human family.” And then in December, in pencil, put “The year we won.” The time to hesitate is through. The only way to get things done is to do things.’
Sting was named the Global Citizen Artist of the Year. He has used his profile to protect rainforests and the indigenous people who live there. He and his wife, Trudie Styler, co-founded Rainforest Fund, which has protected over 33 million acres of rainforest. A monetary prize will be donated to the Fund.
Sting said, ‘As a citizen of course I’m honoured to receive this award, and it does provide the opportunity to admit that whatever successes, whatever battles we’ve managed to win in the struggle to save our planet, we may well be losing the war. I was humbled recently by the words of Greta Thunberg as she addressed the United Nations on the issue of climate change, where on behalf of her generation she rightfully pointed the finger at ours. That whatever we’ve done, whatever we have tried to accomplish in this struggle, we have not done enough. And so I accept this award with the same humility that I would feel as a schoolboy reading my end-of-term report card.’
Mohammed received the Global Citizen World Leader prize, honouring an individual in the political or advocacy space who has advocated for and implemented policy changes that have actionably improved the lives of those suffering from poverty. She played an instrumental role in creating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and presently chairs the UN’s Sustainable Development Group. She said, ‘Today, our world is facing many crises—climate change; inequality, injustice and conflict—yet never have we had so much in our hands to make the world more peaceful and prosperous. We even have a road map, the UN’s 2030 Agenda and our 17 Global Goals, that aim to leave no one behind, especially our women and youth. We have ten years to make them a reality and help transform our world. Success depends on all of us and it can’t be business as usual. The status quo is no longer acceptable. We leaders at all levels, in all constituencies, must embrace the new era of change and deliver for people and for planet. We must do that now. I am humbled to accept this award, working for the UN and the world we want.’
Ulukaya received the Global Citizen Business Leader prize. He became concerned about his own employees’ working conditions, strengthening the communities where they live, offering fully paid parental leave, and fighting food insecurity in local schools. His Tent Partnership for Refugees mobilizes the private sector to help the 25 million-plus forcibly displaced from their home countries. He said, upon accepting the award, ‘The truth is, what matters most, in business and in life, is the difference you make for others. And that in the end, the truest measure of a business is not return on investment … but return on kindness. So, this award is a reminder that when we stand together … and fight together … kindness and courage will triumph over poverty and hatred every time.’
A fifth category, the Cisco Youth Leadership Award, was announced on stage, but will be revealed in the telecast. Finalists are Luisa Bonin of São Paulo, Brazil, Nashin Mahtani of Jakarta, Indonesia, Alain Nteff of Yaoundé, Cameroon, Priya Prakash of Gurugram, India, and Haroon Yasin of Islamabad, Pakistan.
The broadcast special was produced by London-based Whizz Kid Entertainment. Katherine Allen and Mark Sidaway served as executive producers, and Julia Knowles directed. Molly McGuiness was the executive producer for Global Citizen. Partners include Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Citi, Live Nation, Reckitt Benckiser, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Motsepe Foundation.