Antigua calls for global action to end hunger

This week the whole world is watching New York.

With the very first visit to the city by the very first Papal leader from the Americas — Argentina-born Pope Francis is attracting the attention of 70 million Roman Catholics who reside in the USA.

In addition, the fact that 144 heads of governments will convene the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly here is also an internationally alluring magnet to view.

Add to that performances by Beyonce, Pearl Jam and Coldplay at the Global Citizens Festival in Central Park on Saturday, and the South-South Awards slated to reward governments, organizations and individuals for making strides in combating poverty and hunger, hardly any other city comes close to rivaling the attention the city is attracting this week.

“I have never seen so many black cars, people talking into their sleeves or traffic gridlock as I am seeing this week,” Art Arellanes told Caribbean Life.

Arellanes has produced the half-time Superbowl entertainment shows and a long list of impressive nationwide showcases as well as twice previously, executive produced the South-South Awards.

In 2015 he has returned to add to the global allure of the internationally acclaimed awards and in addition to staging a fun show wants the world to pay attention to the call to end poverty and hunger throughout the world.

To that effort he has invited A-list celebrities to endorse the achievements of the global South when they celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations and its adoption of the new universal development framework known as the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Antigua & Barbuda is one of the committee members and during the leadership of John Ashe, then president of the general assembly and Caribbean twin-island native, the stage was set for the bold initiative.

With 17 goals to tackle in order to advance sustainable development throughout emerging nations, nine were added to fully implement eight initially introduced as Millennium Development Goals.

Globally, approximately 795 million people are estimated to be undernourished.

More than 90 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.

By promoting prosperity, addressing climate change, gender equality, and the eradication of poverty some of the priorities will be history.

Already a few of the targeted goals have been met ahead of schedule. One of the major successes is that the goal of reducing extreme poverty rate has been halved five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Another goal to boast is that more than one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990.

In 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 14 per cent in 2015. However, at the global level more than 800 million people are still living in extreme poverty.

In continuing a five-year annual tradition of honoring governments, organizations and individuals that have made significant contributions to advancing sustainable development worldwide, the South-South Awards honors distinguished countries, individuals and organizations that embody transformative sustainable development worldwide; particularly in the areas of poverty reduction, education advancement and humanitarian impact.

It is a celebration of multilateral partnerships concerned with uplifting the world’s most vulnerable populations.

In keeping with a theme set by Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, 2015 is the year of Global Action.

“Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources,” the secretary general said three years ago.

“Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course.”

In 2012 he said “we are working on a final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”

According to Arellanes, if in the process “we can entertain, inspire and enlighten in one evening” the world will benefit.

For the Waldorf-Astoria gala on Saturday, he said “We have brought in some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.”

They include keyboardist Ray Chew, music producer for the reality television show “Dancing With The Stars,” and percussionist/drummer Sheila E, who will perform with her famous father, Pete Escovedo.

Together they will “light up the stage with rhythm and soul, joining dynamic performers from the global South.”

In addition, musician Paul Shaffer is to be honored with the Cultural achievement Award and is expected to lend “the same sparkle and inimitable spirit he gave television audiences for 33 years as the musical director of The Late Show with David Letterman.”

On Sept. 26, the world’s foremost global development event will also feature some of the most celebrated Hollywood actors.

Academy award winners Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Forrest Whitaker are among the elite expected to make presentations.

Douglas is the UN Messenger of Peace and he will honor the UN as its turns 70.

He will deliver a personal message, while actor and producer Whitaker is set to present the Humanitarian Achievement Award to philanthropist William “Bill” F. Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation.

The gala event will also feature Costa Rica’s Debi Nova.

Countries to be lauded remain a secret until Saturday when a live global, worldwide real-time coverage via both satellite broadcast television and live webcast reveal the winners through the official South-South Awards website.

From the red carpet arrivals to the various musical performances and awards ceremony, viewers will be able to take part in a night of media, culture and entertainment and also allow audiences worldwide an opportunity to take part in celebrating a pivotal moment in history.

Animated images of partners working to realize the MDGs are projected nightly on the walls of the General Assembly building at 47th St. and First Ave. and will remain for all passersby to view until Sunday.

And that Pope Francis made references to some of the same concerns faced by the South-South organizers when he addressed a flock gathered at the White House Wednesday must have amplified the talking points and conversations about global action on sustainable development to fight hunger throughout the world.

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