4th Annual Data Playground: an interactive event showcasing data and innovations for the SDGs.

The UN SDG Action Campaign, UN Global Pulse, and Microsoft organised the fourth annual Data Playground, an interactive event showcasing data and technological innovations for the SDGs.

Data Playground and Breakout sessions 
120+ innovators from both the public and private sector gathered at the event. After a word of welcome by Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of Global Pulse, and Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, the attendees participated in a total of six breakout sessions, including “AI for Earth” – by Microsoft and “MY World 2030”.

Moreover, throughout the reception visitors could try out the latest and greatest in immersive storytelling with the UNVR 360 exhibition, and the Institute for the Future special demo Simtainer. They also had the opportunity to explore and share citizen perceptions on the SDGs with real time SDG data visualisations, and the MY World 2030 survey.

 

We would like to thank everyone, especially our inspiring speakers and colleagues for a vibrant DATA PLAYGROUND 2017 and are looking forward to welcoming you next year!

Interested in data for good? Check out http://data.myworld2030.org/

 

 

 

Innovation and People’s Actions at the heart of the 72nd UN General Assembly

High-Level events, interactive discussions, data showcases, the latest immersive experiences, UNVR screenings and specially thousands of people and over 500 organisations around the world mobilising action to #ACT4SDGs… we are looking back on a successful UN General Assembly and first Global mobilisation to celebrate the SDGs Anniversary.

At the 72 UN General Assembly the UN SDG Action Campaign provided forums to experience cutting-edge technologies and to explore new ways to scale those innovations, to transfer skills and provide the necessary tools for individuals to be able to own and take action for the SDGs from across the globe, and to celebrate the actions and innovations that are already happening. Here are some of the highlights:

SDG Interactive Exhibition 

 

Hundreds of visitors came by the SDG Interactive Exhibition, curated by the UN SDG Action Campaign, to take part in a multitude of immersive experiences and participatory activations that support the UN system in communicating and advocating for the advancement of the SDGs. The experiences provided a voice to people around the world and a peek into how the SDGs manifest in their daily lives, giving delegates at the 72nd General Assembly the chance to understand their realities at this important annual political forum.

Visitors experienced how today’s available and low cost technology can address tomorrows  constraints on industry and life through today’s available, through the SIMTAINER. Light, a first-of-its-kind live-synced VR experience created by Mae allowed visitors to reveal the underlying fabric of our shared humanity and invite a posture of humility in the face of the radical collaboration required by all of us to accomplish the SDGs.

Moving from empathy to action, visitors could also discover and share citizen perceptions on the SDGs with real time SDG data visualizations, sharing their views on SDG progress through the MY World 2030 survey, and the social media commitment capsules at the #Act4SDGs corner.


High-Level Event on Innovation and Technology: SDG Innovation

On Monday 18 September, the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (UN Global Pulse) and the SDG Action Campaign convened governments, CEOs of major technology leading companies and innovators at the High-Level Event on SDG Innovation during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

This unique event exposed governments to breakthrough ideas and innovations available, and leading tech innovators to the concrete problematics and challenges of countries in advancing the Agenda 2030. H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd General Assembly opened the event. Among the group of participants were: H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia and H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of United Arab Emirates, Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn, Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce, Ashish Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Chair of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.

To achieve the SDGs, governments, NGOs and the private sector must all work together to unleash a massive wave of entrepreneurship that generates the breakthrough companies at a record pace. That is how we will create greener power, distribute more food and create hundreds thousands of new jobs for the growing middleclass”
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn 

This unique event exposed governments to breakthrough ideas and innovations available, and leading tech innovators to the concrete problematics and challenges of countries in advancing the Agenda 2030. Read the whole post and watch the videos

SDG Action Campaign at the SDG Media Zone

The SDG Media Zone aims to engage people all over the world in the important conversations happening during this high-level week of the UN General Assembly and to strengthen the commitment of the international community in support of the 2030 Agenda.

The Campaign programmed and participated in 2 sessions:

Data tells the story on the SDGs

Mitchell Toomey, Director SDG Action Campaign with Robert​ ​Kirkpatrick,​ ​Director, UN​ ​Global​ ​Pulse Moderated by​ ​Emily​ ​Courey​ ​Pryor, Executive​ ​Director​ ​Data2X 

The Future We Want in Virtual Reality

Moderated by Kristin Gutekunst,Executive Producer, UN SDG Action Campaign, featuring Monique Marian, BU Architect, Grimshaw Architects
and Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future.

The UN SDG Action Campaign also participated in the Media for Social Impact Summit, our Global Director, Mitchell Toomey gave a keynote address regarding Action for the SDGs, and Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of the UNVR project, moderated the exciting panel: Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Virtually Reporting the Realities of the SDGs. Find out more

Data Playground: Celebrating data, innovation and technology for the SDGs

The UN SDG Action Campaign, UN Global Pulse, and Microsoft organised the fourth annual Data Playground, an interactive event showcasing data and technological innovations for the SDGs.  Innovators across the UN and private and public sector joined for an evening to discuss and explore opportunities for accelerating sustainable development solutions. Read full post

The Global People’s Summit

The UN SDG Action Campaign participated in the first ever Global People’s Summit for Sustainable Development to facilitate a series of activations and calls to action. 84 MILLION people were reached in 160 COUNTRIES

 

Launch of the ASEAN MY World 2030 survey

The ASEAN MY World survey was officially launched by the UNDP Administrator and all Foreign Ministers from the ASEAN region.

“Multi-stakeholder participation and inclusion are recognized as key drivers of success; however there is still a need to increase public awareness and ownership. The ASEAN MY World survey will increase public awareness and capture priorities and perceptions of progress on the agendas.”
Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UNDP 

The ASEAN MY World survey will increase public awareness and capture priorities and perceptions of progress on the agendas, interpret peoples’ aspirations towards the ASEAN Community Vision and the SDGs at the national and regional level, and subsequently help shape policy recommendations and plans of action for ASEAN Member States to achieve the agenda/vision in a timely manner.

Read the complete speech  or go to the ASEAN My World 2030 Survey: asean.myworld2030.org

Global Day of Action for SDGs  – We the People #Act4SDGs

On 25 September, 2017 – the second anniversary of the ratification of the SDGs. The UN SDG Action Campaign, together with the World We Want 2030, local chapters of the Global Campaign Against Poverty (GCAP), and Action for Sustainable Development, joined forces to invite people around the world to take action and send a strong signal to leaders about the importance of the SDGs.

The result? Thousands of volunteers and citizens around the world, celebrities, journalists and thought leaders joined to inspire people to collectively achieve the SDGs: 

500 organisations
1000 actions
116 countries and 380 cities
11,000 tweets
84 million people reached globally  

Explore the actions and join us: www.Act4SDGs.org

 

Support UNICEF Innovations new call for support for VR/AR

REPOST: Our friends at the UNICEF Innovation Fund have released a call for proposals. Deadline is 17 September. Brief summary below, and full posting here: http://unicefstories.org/vr/.

The Innovation Fund allows UNICEF to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source solutions that can improve children’s lives. Financial and technological support is available for companies that can show a strong founding team and a clear path to improving the lives of children.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for start-ups that are developing and piloting new open source VR/AR solutions. We are looking to make investments in 1) software for authoring or consuming these new realities, 2) platforms and ways providing wider access to that software, 3) platforms and ways providing better tools for content creation (such as a template, workflow, or format), and 4) particular applications of content.

For our next VR/AR cohort of investees we are particularly interested in the following applications of content:

  • Learning
    Teaching people to perform simple tasks, in many languages, with higher retention rates and better motivational levels (examples: how to install a water pump; how to recognize malnutrition in under 5-year-olds; how to teach seamstresses to perform simple procedures). VR/AR also presents new ways of increasing access to experiential learning, including for people with disabilities.
  • Understanding complex environments
    Accessing large amounts of data and deciphering them in a better way. Getting a simple picture from a complex collection of data points (examples: converting history of GIS data points from refugee camps into a VR environment for better planning; improving situational awareness for emergency responders).
  • New ways of storytelling
    Undiscovered ways of using VR/AR to tell a story, especially by bridging cross-cultural gaps and creating a dialogue.

Be daring: Applications to the Fund are accepted on a rolling basis. However, to be considered for the VR/AR-focused cohort, we ask you to submit your application by September 17, 11:59pm EDT.

A New Narrative for Development: World’s Best News

Decades of negative communication about hunger and hopelessness in developing countries has resulted in a general public attitude that the fight against poverty does not work. We need a new narrative about global development: Nuanced and current knowledge creates hope – and hope creates motivation for action.

World’s Best News is an example of a unique partnership that brings together the UN and more than 100 NGOs and 100 private companies. Since 2010, the independent media platform World’s Best News has published news about progress and solutions to the world’s challenges to the Danish population. All uniting to spread news about progress on a variety of different platforms using the Sustainable Development Goals as the frame and constructive journalism as method. The aim is to connect civil society, business, and the citizens in the pursuit of a more informed and sustainable world.

A collaboration with DSB, the Danish Railways, made it possible to decorate and InterCity train with World’s Best News messages.

Today, World’s Best News is now an international network with sister organizations in Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Finland.

It is deeply ingrained in ‘classical’ journalism to focus on conflicts and problems in society. However, while being critical is essential to all objective reporting, the focus on conflicts often gets out of hand in the mainstream media. Instead, World’s Best News focus on progress, possibilities and solutions to the big challenges facing the world today.

“World’s Best News has shown that it is possible to change the world. You are creators of hope and perspective.”
Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, Member of Danish Parliament.

“The collaboration with World’s Best News has made us reconsider our coverage of global issues. When you started with constructive journalism it influenced the rest of the content in our newspaper”
Jonas Ratje, Editor in Chief, Metroxpress.

Meet people with constructive and unexpected development news. That is the core objective of World’s Best News.
Credit: Louise Dyring Mbae

How and why this action impacts the people in the community ?
When more people know about the solutions to the world’s problems, they are more motivated to ensure these solutions will be implemented and put into action. When World’s Best News launched in 2010, 16% of the Danes believed there was progress in lifting people out of poverty; in 2016 this number increased to 32%.

We invite you to follow this special blog series on the High Level Political Forum 2017 “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” to find out more about the action taken by citizens and organizations of the country presenting their Voluntary National Review on the SDGs

Citizen Scorecard: Two years on, how have people’s lives changed on key SDG targets.

  • 20% of people surveyed struggle to have enough food to eat

  • 8 key findings that can help us understand perceived progress on the SDGs two years after their adoption

  • One in three respondents are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • explore data

This and other key findings are part of the results of several pilot studies collecting perceptions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to assist decision-makers in SDG review activities. The results, collected through a collaborative research project between the UN SDG Action Campaign and Paragon Partnerships, in particular Kantar Public and Lightspeed, as part of the MY World 2030 project, were presented today during the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations. The Forum is the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2017.

The UN SDG Action Campaign & Kantar Public have developed and tested a question library of almost 100 SDG Questions and then conducted a research study in 11 voluntary reporting countries for this year. The results are representative and weighted samples across the following countries provide a baseline against which to measure progress in future years.

  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Thailand

Key Findings

  1. One third of people are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

    Overall. One in three respondents are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals. Younger respondents (ages 16-29) were more familiar with the SDGs than older respondents. There are huge differences among countries. Respondents in Thailand (the least developed country in the sample) were the most aware, while respondents in Denmark (the most developed country) were least aware. Japan and Argentina were the countries with least awareness levels, with over 80% of the population not aware of the SDGs. There is a lot to be done!

  2. SDG 1 / 20% of the population is still struggling to afford basic needs. 

    This percentages goes up to 35% for those who haven’t completed primary education.

    Thinking about you and your household, which of the following best describes your financial situation?
  3. SDG 2 / The struggle for food is very similar in countries with the highest and lowest Development Index and it affects about 20% of the population who are struggling to have enough food to eat. 

    When asked about how easy or difficult has it been for respondents and their household to have enough food to eat, 20% of all respondents across the sample, without distinction between Low and High Developed Countries (according to the Human Development Index) found it very or quite difficult to have enough food to eat in the past twelve months. Some differences are shown, with Argentina, a country with a Very High HDI level, reporting the most difficulty ( 37% stated “Quite Difficult.”) and Denmark with the least difficulty (55% answering “Very Easy”).

    Question: Thinking about the last 12 months, how easy or difficult has it been for you and your household to have enough food to eat?
  4. SDG 3 / Access to healthcare has not changed since last year. 1 in 4 respondents are not satisfied with the quality.

    For the majority of respondents the situation hasn’t changed. But one in four respondents are not satisfied with the quality of healthcare. Thailand scored as the country where it has most improved.

    Question: How satisfied are you with the health services and treatments you and your household have had over the last 12 months?
  5. SDG 5 / More people agree than disagree that women earn the same amount of money for doing the same job.

    Overall, more respondents agree than disagree that women earn the same amount of money for doing the same job. Regional differences are shown, as the majority of European respondents disagree with this statement, while the majority of S.E Asian respondents agree.

    Question: “Today, in our society, women and men earn the equal amount of money for doing exactly the same work at the same level”. Do you agree with this statement?
  6. SDG 9 / Access to internet is still an issue.

    One in five respondents reported they were “often” or “always” having problems with internet access. Malaysian respondents reported the most difficulty accessing the internet with 11% answering “always” versus the Netherlands as the country with the least difficulty, with 61% answering “never” or “rarely”. The age difference also played a role, with the majority of respondents aged 60+ reporting more difficulty than younger ones.

  7. SDG 14 / The oceans and seas are not clean enough, and half the population agrees. 

    Argentina and Italy scored high (73% in Argentina and 69% in Italy) in the perception that their rivers and lakes are not very clean or not clean at all. In Italy and the Czech Republic, conditions have gotten worse according to around 30% of the people surveyed, whereas in Malaysia and Portugal, conditions were reported to have improved. Sweden and Denmark were the exception, with above 70% of the respondents reporting that their rivers and lakes were very clean or fairly clean.

    Question: In your opinion, how clean are the rivers and lakes around where you live ?
  8. Good Health, Eradication of Poverty and Decent Work are the primary concerns for citizens.

Overall, the top 5 SDGs where: 

It is interesting to note that in MY World 2015, with a much bigger sample size, the top issues of concern were Education, Healthcare, Jobs, Honest & Responsive Government. People are still choosing the same top issues two years on! After good health, the top concerns change for women and men – for women being “No poverty” and men being more concerned with “Decent Work and Economic Growth”. Quality Education also made it as a top concern in Argentina.

Methodological Note

In total, 7,772 respondents took part in the survey in 11 countries, ranging from 350 in Denmark to 1,011 in Czech Republic. Quotas were set by age, gender and region in each country. Respondents were sampled from Lightspeed and TNS online and mobile access panels. Data is weighted by age, gender, and region in each country. Cross-country comparison is based on additional weights by country population size

In other words: assuming probability sample, for a question response of 49%, we can say that in 95 out of 100 surveys, the true value (which would be obtained if the entire population were asked the question) lies between 46% and 52%.

Become a MY World 2030 partner and roll out the survey

How the United Nations is using Virtual Reality

On the 20 April, Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of the UN SDG Action Campaign and project lead on UNVR, and David Cravinho, Global Fundraising Specialist for UNICEF presented at the Virtual Reality Show in London. Joining top brands from creative, technology, hardware agencies, as well as government institutions and NGOS, the show provided an opportunity to present the UNVR system’s achievements, future strategy and establish the UNVR brand as an industry leader in using interactive experiences for social impact.

In this video, Kristin Gutekunst gives an overview on the various ways the United Nations system has been using VR to allow people to step into the shoes of people around the world – creating deep human connections and fighting preconceptions. She discusses the many ways the UN system has been testing these films; potential impact on fundraising, high level advocacy, and educational programs. She also give hints about some of the big plans in store.

David Cravinho provides best practices and lessons learned on the initial findings from UNICEF’s global project to incorporate VR into their fundraising strategy, and showcases some of the innovative ways UNICEF National Committees are using it in the field through face-to-face-fundraising.

The show was an arena for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality professionals and enthusiasts to explore experiences, witness panels and meet the top brands and innovators working in the fields of social impact, education, automotive, gaming, medicine, amusement parks, space, etc.

For more information about the UNVR program, please visit www.UNVR.org

UNVR Curates Exhibition for The Ocean Conference

Have you ever had the chance to go scuba diving with whales? How about hanging out with penguins in Antarctica? Have you heard the personal stories of those working on the front lines of ecological activism, such as scientists and indigenous people?

Would being exposed to these experiences help you to become a stronger and more informed advocate about the ocean, or SDG 14, Life Under Water? 

To support the Governments of Fiji and Sweden in their mission to inspire advocacy and action for SDG 14 during the Ocean Conference, 5-9 June, UNVR curated a playlist of some of the best in 360’ video and interactive virtual reality to transport viewers to the coasts and deep waters of the sea, bathing them in the sights and sounds of the ocean.

“We have two and a half years’ experience organizing VR exhibitions that transport policy makers into the development challenges the SDGs are seeking to alleviate, especially at UN forums. This is the first time we have brought together multiple VR experiences that coalesce focus on one SDG, in this case SDG14: Life Under Water. The diversity of issues covered provide visitors with a broader context, a choice of issues they can champion, and actions they can take.” said Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of UNVR for the UN SDG Action Campaign.

Curated and produced by the UN SDG Action Campaign, the exhibition is powered by Samsung and includes content collaboration with the Permanent Mission of France, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and through the generous permission of many VR Creators.

The exhibition will feature the following experiences (detailed information here: http://unvr.sdgactioncampaign.org/ocean-conference), some of which are exclusively available at this event:

  • Chasing Coral: the VR Experience – Directed by Jeff Orlowski. An Exposure Labs Production in partnership with Seaview 360 and The Ocean Agency
  • The Click Effect – Directed by Sandy Smolan and James Nestor. A Within production in partnership Annapurna Pictures.
  • Infinite Scuba VR – Mission Blue and Cascade Game Foundry
  • Out of the Blue  – Directed by Sophie ANSEL, narrated by Sylvia Earle and Judith Castro. A Film produced in partnership with VR for good by Oculus, Pelagic Life and Reelfx.
  • Science on the Great Barrier Reef – Directed by Christophe Bailhache. A Seaview 360 Production.
  • Tubbataha – Directed by Christophe Bailhache. A Seaview 360 Production in collaboration with the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
  • Valen’s Reef – A Conservation International Film in partnership with Within, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation
  • Walk With Penguins – Directed by Will McMaster. A production by BirdLife International and Visualize

The special exhibition will be on display in the UN General Assembly Visitor’s Lobby 5-9 June, from 10:00 – 16:00. The exhibition will be open to those with a UN grounds pass or a special events pass.

@UnitednationsVR @SDGAction #UNVR #SDGs #SaveOurOcean

How can new technologies ensure we leave no one behind

Professionals developing world class innovation discuss the real potential of virtual reality and new media and the challenges that lay ahead:  How do we make sure it brings a positive impact to global issues.? How can we bring it to everyone and really use it to help the people who need it the most?

 

 

Friedrich Kurz, General Manager Social Innovation, Deutsche Telekom, Marisol Grandon, CEO of Untold Stories, Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of UNVR, UN SDG Action Campaign, Wilfried Runde, Head of Innovation Projects at Deutsche Welle join the discussion at the SDG Live Stage of the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development.

To convey the stories of the most vulnerable people in the world and bring them home to the decision makers and global citizens around the world, pushing the bounds of empathy, the UN SDG Action Campaign has coordinated the United Nations Virtual Reality Series since 2015.

This discussion happened during the first Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development. Watch more: http://globalfestivalofideas.org/

 

Bridges of Understanding brings SDGs to their annual gala

Bridges of Understanding Annual Gala, 12 December: New York

Bridges of Understanding is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, nonpolitical organization established in 2007 to enhance positive relations between the United States and Arab World through one-to-one connections between thought leaders and the creation of original youth focused programs.

The Campaign has had a partnership with Bridges of Understanding since June 2016 to promote empathy and understanding around the refugee crisis, co-develop educational and new media activities and to increase awareness and action around the SDGs.

The Campaign organized a We the Peoples hub during the annual Gala. The SDGs were on display, featured as a selfie tool at the step and repeat photowall. Guests also had the opportunity to watch Clouds Over Sidra & My Mother’s Wing on virtual reality headsets. The gala honored Arianna Huffington and Chaker Ghazaal for their contribution to promoting global citizenship, connecting people, countries and cultures.

 

Next Generation, Cross-Curricular Global Learning through Immersive Technology

Blog by Neesha N. Rahim, Co-Founder Level Up Village

The Level Up Village (LUV) team joined forces with the UN SDG Action Campaign, Shared_Studios, VIF, The Qatar Foundation International & P21 at the 2016 Global Ed Forum in Philadelphia in October. With the goal of providing an immersive, perspective-building experience for some of the best and brightest educators working to build global competency skills in K-12 students,  the experience provided a unique interpretation of “cross-curricular learning” and showed how global competency could be infused in all aspects of education.

Thought leaders from around the world had the opportunity to immerse themselves virtually in the stunningly heartbreaking world of a Syrian refugee child named Sidra via Clouds Over Sidra. This set the stage to understanding what life is like in a Syrian refugee camp, adding depth and intimacy to an issue that many see only on the news.  Those who saw the film came away excited by the promises of VR, seeing the film and technology as an opportunity to effectively teach today’s digital natives about topics from the refugee crisis to the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

“Watching Clouds over Sidra in VR was an incredibly impactful experience,” said Connor Seidenschwarz of the Qatar Foundation International.  “Last summer I worked in a refugee camp in Lebanon, and the VR experience made me feel like I was right back there again.  I think this type of medium, along with the Shared_Studios portal and Level Up Village programs, will have a huge impact on anyone learning about refugee experience, especially in terms of what it can do to create humanize refugees.”

“I’ve worked in many countries, including in the developing world.  Yet this film drove home what life is really like for refugee children and made me see the differences and similarities between children here and there in a different light,” David Ross, Chief Strategy Officer at P21 said of the experience.

“Global education is the lens through which all teaching and learning should occur. Virtual exchanges, collaborative projects, and immersive VR experiences like Clouds over Sidra are critical elements for delivering quality education to all,” said David Young CEO of VIF, an organization that works districts and schools to develop global-ready teachers and students.

After watching the film, participants walked into a gold colored, sparkling Shared_Studios Portal tent where they connected in real time through full-body video conference with groups in Iraq, Pakistan and Nicaragua.  These live interactions pulled the world of each of these groups even closer, breaking down the wall of self consciousness that we often see via modes like Skype.  Through this opportunity, educators explored how students might be able to play and engage meaningfully with peers from around the world.    

Boys who fled the ISIS takeover of Mosul two years ago and are living in Harsham Camp for internally displaced Iraqis in the city of Erbil spoke directly to conference participants via the Erbil Portal, curated by UNICEF Iraq.  Amidst more serious conversations, one US educator spontaneously played a game of rock, paper, scissors with the children who taught her the Arabic words for the game.  The young Iraqi boys then taught a group of three women in the US a local dance.

Lindsay Mackenzie, communications specialist with UNICEF Iraq, explained that connecting with people around the world serves to build perspective and open the world for children in the camp, while giving voice to those who do not feel heard. Moreover, these opportunities represent hope and a moment of respite from otherwise harrowing situations.

Participants also connected in real time with educators and students from Level Up Village’s Global Partner programs in Pakistan and Nicaragua. iEarn Pakistan, led by Farah Kamal, has done incredible work in building global competency and tech skills in Pakistani students, often against seemingly insurmountable odds.  

“It was thrilling to stand right in front of my counterparts at the GEF 2016 and talk. We have the same hopes and aspirations – to have our students grow and thrive in a peaceful world,”  said Farah Kamal, Executive Director of iEarn Pakistan.   

Global Ed Forum participants interacted in real time with Level Up Village global partners NicaPhoto Nicaragua and iEARN Pakistan

At NicaPhoto in Nicaragua, Ronnie Maher has provided quality education, nutrition and other social services to hundreds of students who live in homes that were only recently wired for electricity.  Via Level Up Village programs, students in each location have engaged in one-to-one STEAM (STEM + arts) collaborations with students at schools in the US.

“The impact of Level Up Village programs on our kids is great, beginning with learning to use a computer, learning to form their own ideas, and to ask questions,” said Ronnie Maher, Founder & Executive Director of NicaPhoto. “The video letters and one-to-one connections help them to be less shy as they learn to express themselves. The project-based, small class environment is a unique opportunity that can have a big impact on learning here in Nicaragua.”

At the conference, we also demonstrated how Level Up Village’s social media-inspired platform facilitates the exchange of asynchronous video letters and project collaboration across the globe. In our courses, students in the US are paired one-on-one with partner students from around the world to learn cutting-edge STEAM skills and apply them to real-world problems, In addition, they collaborate on shared project files and exchange information about about each other’s daily lives and cultures through a guided exchange of video letters. The result is meaningful global collaboration and an enhanced understanding of the world – at a personal level.

Students in 20+ countries connect and collaborate using Level Up Village’s mobile-friendly Global Communications Platform in courses such as Global Inventors (3D printing). This type of innovative global STEAM collaboration with real-world applications teaches important 21st Century skills and creates meaningful personal connections

Participants at the Global Ed Forum experienced firsthand how a variety of exciting new technologies are proving to be game-changers in the field of global education. We look forward to further opportunities to collaborate with VIF, P21, The Qatar Foundation International, Shared_Studios and the UN SDG Action Campaign to move global education forward. In the next few years, we expect many more schools in the US and around the world will access the tools they need to bring the world into their classroom and the impact will be profound. Students will be able to develop social awareness, empathy and global competency in unprecedented ways, providing them with the framework they need to become compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

** Special thanks to GEF 2016 organizer Brandon Wiley & Dave Potter of VIF for making this experience possible.

About Level Up Village: A social enterprise based in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Level Up Village (LUV) delivers pioneering Global STEAM (STEM + Arts) enrichment courses that promote design thinking and one-to-one collaboration on real-world problems between K-9 students in the U.S. and partner students in developing countries. Launched in 2012, LUV runs courses during school, after-school and in the summer at more than 150 U.S. schools, with 30+ Global Partner organizations in more than 20 countries.  For more information, visit at levelupvillage.com or find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter @LevelUpVillage.