Shakira and Angélique Kidjo celebrated the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals last week with powerful performances before an audience at the United Nations General Assembly that included over 130 heads of state and government.

Following an address from His Holiness Pope Francis, Shakira took to the stage to sing “Imagine”, John Lennon's iconic anthem of love and peace.

“We live in a world in which many who are born poor will die poor. It is up to us to be the first society to eradicate poverty and bring justice and equality to the most disenfranchised people on earth,” Shakira, a passionate advocate of children’s rights, told the assembled world leaders before her performance. “Our children have the right to equal opportunities; to thrive, to be happy, healthy, and safe.”

Angélique Kidjo, who has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002, sang a moving version of ‘Afirika’ – her hymn to the continent she calls home.

“Africa and its children have the most to gain from the Sustainable Development Goals, but they also have the most to lose if our leaders do not fully commit to this new agenda for peace and prosperity,” Kidjo said. “As an artist I want to use my voice to make sure that people around the world understand the new global goals and why they matter, so that they can hold their leaders accountable for their success or failure.”

Flanked by a group of young people from across the world, Malala Yousafzai then delivered a message of hope for today’s children before the SDGs were ratified by world leaders.

The Sustainable Development Goals represent an ambitious plan of action that aims to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger, provide quality lifelong education for all, protect the planet and promote peaceful and inclusive societies.

These new global goals offer a historic opportunity to provide children with the fair start in life they deserve, UNICEF said, cautioning that this opportunity will be wasted if the world does not focus efforts and investments on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children.

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