Saturday night’s Global Citizen Festival in Central Park brought the call against poverty and injustice in the developing world out of the meeting rooms of the United Nations General Assembly, to a massive show of youth support.
The jubilation of 60,000 screaming fans followed the political equivalent of a rock star performance by Jim Kim, the President of the World Bank, speaking about peace, youth and the future. He was joined by Prime Minister Modi who has been vocal about tackling the issue of sanitation in India since taking office earlier this year.
World leaders shared the stage with Raya, the Sanitation Muppet created by Sesame Street and endorsed by the UN Deputy Secretary General to carry forward his “Call to Action on Sanitation.” Their interaction brought home the fact that ending open defecation is now a truly global movement.
Highlights included first-hand accounts of world leaders from two countries battling to solve sanitation issues. Video broadcasts by heads of state from Nepal and Madagascar moved not only members of the public, they were particularly poignant for attending ministers of water, environment, urban development and planning. Messages of commitment to act to improve sanitation were both dynamic and engaging.
Both countries host WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund financing mechanism, which shifts away from the traditional development focus of building toilets for people, to empowering them to build their own toilets and improve their communities’ standard of hygiene. Greater awareness of the participatory approach to development can mean more resources, more programmes and therefore better health and dignity for more than 2 billion people on this planet who lack decent sanitation.
Next on stage, the rock star Sting, and the band No Doubt, played their rendition of “Message in a Bottle,” a thrilling and powerful performance. Then Amina Mohamed, the United Nations’ Special Representative on future global development goals (the MDGs expire next year), the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Kim took to the stage to deliver messages of support for Global Citizens.
The evening culminated in a powerful and emotional performance by Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The two on stage together, despite everything, keeping hope alive!
WSSCC is a leading partner in the end open defecation campaign which raised awareness of the importance of sanitation at the UN General Assembly and at the Global Citizen Festival in highly innovative ways including printed messages on toilet paper in the bathrooms at the meeting of world leaders and at the festival.
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