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The first ever Global Citizen Festival in India took place in Mumbai on Saturday 19th November to coincide with World Toilet Day with an unprecedented gathering of 80,000 citizens from India committed to working towards ending extreme poverty by 2030 and raising awareness on sanitation and hygiene issues.
In addition to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi speaking via video conference at the event and powerful performances by renowned band Coldplay, Jay-Z, Demi Lovato and several other Bollywood stars, what news outlets have described as the biggest music festival in Asia saw budgetary pledges and policy announcements by both government and public institutions.
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)’s Chair and Minister of Environment of Nigeria Amina J. Mohammed, who was present at the event shared her admiration and inspiration of the Clean India Mission which aims for an open defecation free India by 2019.
“My country, Nigeria, is one that is inspired by India’s leadership. On behalf of President Buhari, I want to convey our congratulations to India for its vision. Nigeria will follow India's example and in September I pledged that we will work to end Open Defecation in our own country by 2025,” she said in her speech during the event.
She also praised WSSCC’s Sanitation Action Summit organized in collaboration with the festival, the Government of India, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), and the Government of Maharashtra, bringing together voices of the marginalized communities and their sanitation needs.
“Last night, global citizens that are often silent in the Clean India conversation— the elderly, the transgender community, physically challenged, adolescent girls and boys - came together with policymakers to ensure commitments for joint action that will leave no one behind in this mission to Clean India,” she added.
In total, almost USD 6 billion was committed to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects, Quality Education initiatives and Gender Equality platforms by governments, corporates and NGOs across India.
“The 500,000 global citizens who took action in India are now primed to make sure that leaders uphold and deliver on these commitments in the years to come, and help ensure delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals more broadly,” said Michael Sheldrick who heads the Global Policy and Advocacy of Global Citizen.
WSSCC’s Chair has also highlighted that India and Nigeria share many common interests and ideas with a message of hope to achieve sustainable development for all.
“We are now working on a strategic partnership where we stand in solidarity with India to tackle these issues, and to explore new ways of achieving inclusive development together,” she said.
“Together our voices can be a powerful voice for change.”