BOSTON, Massachusetts — Billie Eilish is a rare global pop phenomenon. Her single “Ocean Eyes” went viral in 2016 when she was only 14 years old. Since then she has won seven Grammys and continues to write music that resonates with millions of people worldwide. Her most recent single for the 2023 blockbuster Barbie film, “What Was I Made For?”, stayed on the Billboard Top 100 for five weeks.
2022 Global Citizen Campaign
With the impressive worldwide reach that she has, Billie Eilish addresses global poverty and food insecurity through recent and ongoing efforts. In 2022, Eilish partnered with the international education and advocacy organization Global Citizen to show support for the organization’s End Extreme Poverty Now campaign. Alongside artists like Shawn Mendes, Coldplay, Billy Porter and Alessia Cara, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas signed an open letter urging governments, businesses and billionaires to take action against poverty and worsening climate conditions.
The letter was announced during a two-day leadership summit in New York City in May 2022. It prioritizes the world’s most marginalized communities and urges world leaders to support marginalized communities more than they otherwise would, by expanding health care and financial literacy, as well as access to food, education and health services. The letter emphasizes empowering young women and girls, as well as refugees and internally displaced people fleeing conflict areas such as Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela. Like Eilish, anybody is eligible to co-sign the open letter by visiting this link.
Support and Feed
Another example where Billie Eilish addresses global poverty and food insecurity occurred on April 22, 2023. To commemorate Earth Day, Eilish shut down her online store and urged fans to consider donating to organizations working to end food insecurity instead of purchasing merchandise. One organization Eilish brought attention to was Support and Feed. Founded by Eilish’s mother, Maggie Baird, Support and Feed takes action for a global shift toward equitable food systems and distribution to combat food insecurity.
The organization was initially founded to support first responders, senior care facilities and economically vulnerable communities with local plant-based meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 2022, the organization aims to continue expanding its reach within the U.S. and internationally. Reducing animal agriculture and educating people on the benefits of plant-based food is a worldwide effort that Support and Feed prioritizes as essential to combating food insecurity.
The Music Decarbonization Project
Her most recent Lollapalooza set in August of 2023 demonstrates how Billie Eilish addresses global poverty and food insecurity with her actions. In the week leading up to her headlining set, Eilish announced that she was partnering with the environmental nonprofit organization Reverb to power her set with solar-powered, zero-emissions battery systems.
The historic endeavor is part of Reverb’s Music Decarbonization Project, which Billie Eilish co-founded and helped fund. The initiative aims to directly eliminate carbon emissions from live music by implementing innovative climate solutions, such as clean energy technologies.
Bille Eilish’s Continuing Efforts
Developed countries contribute the most to global emissions, yet developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate impacts, such as flooding and unsanitary living conditions. By utilizing available green technologies instead of highly polluting diesel generators, Eilish is taking a necessary step to ensure that developing countries do not bear the consequences of excess emissions in developed countries.
Moving forward, Reverb has partnered with data scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who will analyze data to further reduce the global climate impact of live music events, including fan travel to and from events. They are set to release a report outlining strategies in 2024.
Billie Eilish addresses global poverty and food insecurity throughout her career, backing up her activism with actions. From co-signing the End Extreme Poverty Now open letter to partnering with organizations like Support and Feed and Reverb, Eilish continues to make a tangible difference on a global scale. How she will continue to prioritize accountability in the future should be of interest to us all.
– Ben Hofmann