Concert Marks 45th Earth Day

Global Citizen Earth Day 2015, a free eight-hour event aimed at raising awareness for the issues of poverty and climate change, will take place on the National Mall to mark the 45th anniversary of Earth Day on Saturday.

The Global Poverty Project and Earth Day Network have partnered for the first time to organize the event, which includes an open concert on the grounds of the Washington Monument, with headliners No Doubt, Usher, My Morning Jacket, Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige and Train performing throughout the day.

The organizers have not released the specific times for each of the artists, but the entire event will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 10 a.m.

Justine Lucas, global programs director at Global Poverty Project, explained the correlation between poverty and climate change as well as why the organizations partnered for the event.

“We know you can’t end extreme poverty without addressing climate change,” Lucas wrote in an email. “As 2015 is a year when world leaders will establish the roadmap for ending extreme poverty and be negotiating on climate change and sustainability, it was the perfect opportunity for us to work together to unite citizens and drive commitments to help those living in poverty and protect the planet for years to come.”

Attiya Sayyed, communications and programs associate at Earth Day Network, also spoke about the link between these two issues.

“Those most affected by climate change are low-income or marginalized populations. The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, for example — one of the poorest places on Earth — was the first country to declare its land uninhabitable due to sea level rise from climate change and has asked for help in evacuating its population,” Sayyed said. “Even more people will fall into poverty and food will become more scarce if we don’t stop our misuse of the planet.”

Additionally, organizers have advertised that the event coincides with the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Lucas said another goal of the day is to bring international attention to the event and incorporate people from across both politics and business.

“We will see commitments from corporations, world leaders, policymakers and everyday citizens on stage, all committing to do their part to solve climate change and end extreme poverty,” Lucas said.

Sayyed also spoke of the event within the context of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris, France, in 2015.

“This event is a platform to build on the road to Paris. We will show leaders all over the world that citizens require a binding climate change agreement,” Sayyed said.

One of the highlights of the day will be the concert, which Lucas hopes will draw publicity to the entire day. She added that all of the performers have participated in previous Global Citizen events, such as past summer concerts in Central Park.

Sayyed said the music brings people together to appreciate the importance of the issues.

“Music can rally people together for issues. … The artists participating are also strong proponents for the issues: ending global poverty and stopping climate change,” Sayyad said. “With the talent of many influencers from all over the world, the 250,000 people expected to come out and rally on the National Mall will be inspired to take action.”

Graham Willard (SFS ’18), a member of GU Fossil Free, is a student planning on attending the event. He said he sees the event as a strong grassroots movement to show popular opinion to representatives.

“I think this will be an exciting event to show our government that there is a grassroots movement that wants to solve the problems associated with climate change now — not at some point in the future,” Willard said.

Christina Libre (COL ’17), also a GU Fossil Free member, disagreed. She said she doubted Global Citizen Earth Day will bring about real change and cited the lack of any official collaboration with members from the International Monetary Fund or World Bank in the day’s programming.

“It doesn’t actually bring any of the leaders from these organizations to its event in conjunction with its concert,” Libre said. “In fact, it doesn’t seem to be hosting any speakers or events that are actually going to be referencing the social justice movements it purports to dedicate the concert to. Nor does it seem to be raising any money for environmental or global development causes, as it is a free event. As such, I’m somewhat cynically inclined to predict that this is more of a PR move for the sponsors.”

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