As superstar acts took the stage during this year’s Coachella Music Festival, a group of philanthropists traveled to Indio, Calif., with a different mission: overcoming climate-induced global hunger.
On April 15, representatives from the United Nations and the Sean Penn co-founded emergency relief non-profit CORE hosted an event during Coachella’s first weekend to speak with artists about their role in promoting efforts to fight famine across the globe.
“Music is a building block to humanity. It shapes culture, it moves us physically, emotionally, mentally. It is food for our soul — and therefore the best way to help feed the world,” said Ann Lee, CEO of CORE.
An array of countries were represented, with musicians from the U.S., Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, Ghana, Haiti and Nigeria attending the gathering, including Coachella performers Jupiter Bokondji of Jupiter & Okwess and Pakistani singer and songwriter Ali Sethi, Harry Styles’ musical director Pauli The PSM, Grammy-nominated producer Nabeyin (Drake, Nas, The Game) and Nigerian star DJ Sydney Love.
The event also included a sustainable food experience from Chef Grace Ramirez, ambassador of the UN’s Chefs’ Manifesto, a network of chefs in 92 countries, with a mission inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the World Food Programme, 345 million people are projected to be food insecure in 2023, while 45 million people are currently on the brink of starvation. “Musicians and artists are central to the culture of our times. They have the power to move people and evoke change,” said Reena Ghelani, United Nations Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator. “We need their powerful voice to galvanize the world to act.”
While the exact profits of the Coachella Music Festival are unknown, projections exceed one billion worldwide. In the city of Coachella, under-resourced schools and poverty are widespread, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in by way of festival parking alone. “All of our schools surround the festival grounds, and they’re all Title 1 schools, the poorest of the poor schools,” a local substitute teacher told Refinery29. “We have all these issues and the school board just says they don’t have the budget to help us put in metal detectors when we have gun scares. They don’t have the money to get us clean water.”
Local residents hope the festival and its surrounding events will help bring attention to the city’s farm-working community in order to improve the quality of living for those who provide food for the nation.
For CORE and the UN, artists play a pivotal role in inspiring positive change within and beyond local communities. Tania Goossens-Allen from the UN’s World Food Programme noted, “It is crucial that we all do our part, that we create new partnerships and involve young audiences to reach our objective of ‘zero hunger.'”