Pop stars, world leaders rally to end poverty

Some of the biggest names in music and politics from Beyonce to European prime ministers rallied in a concert aimed at mobilizing action to eradicate extreme poverty.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 27, 2015, 13:00 PM IST

New York: Some of the biggest names in music and politics from Beyonce to European prime ministers rallied in a concert aimed at mobilizing action to eradicate extreme poverty.

Before thousands of people in New York's Central Park and a far greater audience on television, the Global Citizen Festival sought to use entertainment to broaden support for new United Nations development goals.

Beyonce, playing just her second concert this year, was the top attraction for many fans who obtained tickets not by paying but by committing to activism ranging from writing letters to volunteering.

Other performers included rock veterans Pearl Jam and Coldplay, fresh English pop sensation Ed Sheeran, socially conscious rapper Common and -- in an effort to raise the profile of the festival in India -- leading Bollywood singer Sunidhi Chauhan.

Beyonce closed an energetic set by welcoming to the stage a surprise guest she hugged warmly -- Michelle Obama.

The US first lady encouraged the audience to use social media to campaign on behalf of the estimated 62 million girls worldwide who are not in school.

"They deserve the same chances to get an education as my daughters and your daughters and all of our children," she said.

"And make no mistake about it -- giving them that chance is at the core of our work to end global poverty."

On Friday, the UN endorsed a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 -- in part by focusing on opportunities for girls, an investment with sweeping consequences for families' futures.

Despite wide official endorsements of the so-called Sustainable Development Goals, the UN estimates that achieving them would cost the world up to $5 trillion each year -- a huge commitment.

US Vice President Joe Biden, another unannounced guest at the festival, voiced optimism that the goal was within reach if citizens mobilized.

"At no time in history has so much power been available to make such a difference for so many people," Biden said.

The prime ministers of Luxembourg, Malta, Norway and Sweden came to the festival to offer support, with US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron appearing by video.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, one of the world's top donors, said that the festival should serve as a catalyst for a "massive increase in educational funding."