Rock out

Global Cit­i­zens Con­cert for Auck­land

Element - - Contents - By Jamie Joseph

From New York’s Cen­tral Park last year to Auck­land’s Town Hall on Au­gust 4 this year, the Global Cit­i­zen Con­cert is the mu­si­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of a move­ment.

The Global Cit­i­zen Con­cert is be­ing or­gan­ised by The Global Poverty Pro­ject, the pro­gram which be­gan as a grass roots or­gan­i­sa­tion and has now spread world­wide, and has the aim of erad­i­cat­ing global poverty.

The event takes place at Auck­land Town Hall and is sup­ported by a stel­lar New Zealand line-up that in­cludes Tiki Taane, Daniel Bed­ing­field, Anika Moa, Jamie McDell, Seth Haapu, AhoriBuzz, and Maitreya, with more artists to be an­nounced.

Voted by Forbes as one of the 30 un­der 30 most in­flu­en­tial so­cial en­trepreneurs in the world, El­e­ment mag­a­zine caught up with Global Poverty Pro­ject founder Hugh Evans in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view this month to find out why he has such high hopes for New Zealand to be part of the blue-sky dream to end ex­treme poverty in one gen­er­a­tion.

Hu­man his­tory has al­ways been shaped by coura­geous ac­tion that be­gan with a rum­bling riot of the heart. In 2008 Aus­tralian-born Evans and his friends set out on a mis­sion, with no money and no of­fice, but a de­ter­mined will to end the suf­fer­ing of over a bil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty. The Global Poverty Pro­ject be­gan as a grass­roots move­ment that spread to New Zealand, the UK and the US. It grew ex­po­nen­tially and at­tracted the sup­port of many of the most pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, econ­o­mists and rock stars from around the world.

Last year a mas­sive ad­vo­cacy event was held on the lawns of New York's Cen­tral Park, har­ness­ing the power of col­lec­tive voices. Bring­ing to­gether artists that in­cluded Foo Fight­ers, The Black Keys and Neil Young, thou­sands of peo­ple cel­e­brated the progress in the fight against ex­treme poverty and urged lead­ers and fel­low cit­i­zens to con­tinue to forge for­ward on this is­sue. The fes­ti­val raised a whop­ping $1.3 bil­lion in pledged do­na­tions by or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als.

The next Global Cit­i­zen Con­cert could have been hosted any­where in the world, so why New Zealand? Says founder Hugh Evans: “End­ing ex­treme poverty will re­quire more than just an in­crease in in­ter­na­tional aid rev­enues. New Zealand has a his­tory of be­ing at the fore­front of change and is seen as a moral leader, from women’s rights to nu­clear is­sues. New Zealand is a small coun­try, but the world watches what you do very care­fully. If New Zealand as a na­tion stands up it is an ex­am­ple for the rest of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. And when the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity rises to­gether there is noth­ing we can­not do.”

As of 2010, the world had 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty, around 20% of the earth's pop­u­la­tion. That fig­ure is down by roughly 200 mil­lion peo­ple since 2005 – driven by ef­fec­tive aid, in­creased trade from the world's poor­est coun­tries, and im­prove­ments in gov­er­nance and trans­parency. But what makes mu­sic such a game changer? “Mu­sic tran­scends age, di­ver­sity, gen­der, ge­og­ra­phy. It unites and ex­cites us,” en­thuses Evans. “Fun­da­men­tally, at its core, ex­treme poverty is a jus­tice is­sue. We need vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship and sym­bolic ac­tion. And that’s where a coun­try like New Zealand can be very pow­er­ful.”

Global Poverty Pro­ject founder Hugh Evans - on tour. Photo: Sup­plied

Hugh Evans in New York. Pic­ture: sup­plied

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