I have known Hugh Evans, a humanitarian and fellow Australian, for more than a decade and have always been a supporter of his work to end extreme poverty in the world's poorest countries. In 2003, Hugh co-founded his first charity, the Oaktree Foundation, of which I was a patron. The Oaktree Foundation is an entirely youth-driven development agency that aims to empower young people in developing countries through sustainable education programs. Hugh was a leader in the Australian Make Poverty History campaign and went on to found The Global Poverty Project, an international education and advocacy organization working to end extreme poverty by 2030.
At the age of 14, he was profoundly affected by the experience of watching children scavenging through garbage in Manila when he traveled to the Philippines with World Vision. Since then, Hugh has devoted his life to being an anti-poverty campaigner and was recognized as the 2004 Young Australian of the Year when he was just 21.
Now 31, Hugh has been passionate about eradicating extreme poverty in the world's poorest nations.
"I really believe that if people are informed about issues of global poverty, they'll respond," Hugh says in this One On One interview.
His goal is to build a movement to end extreme poverty and curate large scale campaigns at tipping point moments that can influence world leaders to do things that they otherwise might not be inclined to do.
One of the most effective ways Hugh has been able to influence world leaders is through his Global Festival, a concert in Central Park to raise awareness of high levels of poverty in developing countries, which occurs just as world leaders gather in New York for their United Nations General Assembly meeting. At the first Global Festival, held in September 2012, Hugh managed to bring together 60,000 people and acts including Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Band of Horses and John Legend. At the most recent event, he had the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim take to the stage with Alicia Keys and Bono, melding the words of pop cultural influence and political power. The campaign has garnered 3.3 billion media impressions.
"I am entirely convinced that a well organized group of hundreds of thousands of young people around the world can change the world for ever," Hugh says. "I believe if we work together and are committed for the long haul, we are going to see the end of extreme poverty in our lifetime."
I find Hugh to be an inspiration; his efforts demonstrate how young people can actively participate in global causes and that good intentions can materialize into something tangible and impactful. I earnestly encourage you to visit the Global Poverty Project and the Global Festival and sign up to support their campaign.