Every problem we face is a problem that we created – so it’s a problem we can solve together, declared UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on Saturday, rallying the crowd gathered in New York’s Central Park for the 2022 Global Citizen Festival to keep making their voices heard and holding their leaders accountable: with hope and action, a world free of hunger and poverty is not impossible.

“Let’s tell it like it is: Our world is in big trouble. And we are facing crisis after crisis: People are hurting – and our planet is burning. Hunger is rising – and we are getting much more unequal. War is raging – and human rights are under attack,” the Deputy Secretary-General told the crowd gathered for the tenth year in New York’s iconic Central Park.

There is hope!

“But let me also tell you this: We are not hopeless… Are we?” she asked and rallied the festival attendees by noting some of the transformative objectives than can be achieved with united action: “A world of peace is not impossible. A world free of extreme hunger is not impossible. And deepening inequalities are not impossible.”

Global Citizen Festival is an annual music event where fans take actions toward ending extreme poverty in order to earn free tickets. It brings together artists, activists, world leaders, philanthropists, corporate leaders, and more. This year’s gathering was held in dual locations – New York City, and for the first time, the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

The festival is timed to coincide with the annual high-level opening of the UN General Assembly to leverage opportunities to get policy and financial commitments from government, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to defeat poverty, demand equity, and defend the planet.

‘Will you be the change we are waiting for?’

On Saturday night, Ms. Mohammed told the enthusiastic crowd that a truly peaceful world free of poverty and hunger “is the world we promised ourselves, through the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations and the Global Goals,” referring to the 17-point action plan to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere.

But she warned that time is running out – fast. “Just look at Pakistan and the tragedy of an extreme climate event. And there will be another on tomorrow,” and declared: “We have a serious ‘To-Do list’ – it’s the 17 Global Goals – and we need all your hands on deck.

Telling the Global Citizens gathered in New York that they must hold world leaders to account and demand equitable climate action, gender equality, and social justice now.  

“Your voices matter. Your actions do count. Turn your frustrations into positive change,” said Ms. Mohammed, and added: “We’re betting on you. I’m betting on you. And you can bet on the United Nations. My question to you is: Will you be the change that we are waiting for?  Will you be the change we are waiting for? “