World Humanitarian Summit

Virtual reality hub at the World Humanitarian Summit
Virtual reality hub at the World Humanitarian Summit

The UN SDG Action Campaign participated in the World Humanitarian Summit on 22-24 of May in Istanbul, co-hosting the Virtual Reality hub, along with Samsung Mobile Turkey, RYOT Films, UN Women, OCHA and the WHS Secretariat.

Assistant Secretary-General & Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator United Nations OCHA Kyung-wha Kang watched My Mother's Wing
Assistant Secretary-General & Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator United Nations OCHA Kyung-wha Kang watched My Mother’s Wing

The World Humanitarian Summit – the first summit of its kind held by the United Nations – brought together participants from the global community which included hundreds of delegates and leaders of Governments, crisis-affected communities, private sector leaders, multilateral organizations, international and national NGOs, youth representatives, civil society, diaspora, civil-military, and academic leaders.

The UN is producing films using Virtual Reality (VR) technology, and through this new and powerful approach, they are changing the way how organizations raise awareness and funds. These films highlight some of the most pressing global challenges that the humanity faces, including the Syrian refugee crisis and climate change issues.

At the Summit’s Virtual Reality hub, visitors were able to watch 9 immersive films produced by the United Nations and RYOT films, using Samsung Gear VR and Galaxy smartphones, which were provided by Samsung Electronics. Continue reading “World Humanitarian Summit”

A People-powered Agenda

Article from Disrupt & Innovate Blog:

Written by Mitchell Toomey, Director, UN SDG Action CampaignCjXS4S-VAAACMFn

In September of last year the world witnessed an historic moment – leaders from every member state of the United Nations unanimously ratified a bold and comprehensive 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This agreement emerged not only from the negotiating chambers at the UN but also from a radical and far reaching global conversation that eventually included more than ten million people and thousands of civil society organisations (CSOs), largely through the MY World 2015 survey. The mix of new and old techniques opened the negotiation process to a vivid display of the variety of experiences, knowledge and organisational forms which populate the civic space and left member states buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm of people worldwide, ultimately resulting in a far reaching, complex and ambitious agenda for action.

Thus, the new Goals carry in their DNA openness and inclusiveness, and it is this same spirit that will be required in order for member states to achieve them. The shared vision of the SDGs will be tested as governments lead the process for their implementation: It is critical that space is created for a broad range of actors beyond those traditionally involved in development-related decision processes, if the scale and ambition of the agenda – to leave no one behind – is to be realised. Through the MY World survey initiative for example we saw a massive engagement from young people worldwide (over 70% of survey respondents were under 30 years of age) we must continue to harness this energy to not just debate what the agenda should be but to drive the agenda forward, foster innovation and mobilise new actors.

Each country will need to take its own bold steps, in keeping with their national priorities, to own and achieve the Goals. The United Nations stands ready to accompany and support this process. We are convinced that the outcome of the inclusive international negotiations leading up to the 2030 Agenda can serve as a blueprint for participatory implementation as well. In this regard, some countries where civic participation has been limited or constrained will encounter roadblocks to inclusive implementation of the Agenda, while those with vibrant and well-resourced CSOs will have a distinct advantage in a process that will, by design, require activation of all parts of society.can only succeed together

The SDGs were designed to be interdependent. While dedicated efforts will be required to achieve each goal and target, comprehensive success will only come when these interdependencies are met with an equality collaborative approach to implementation.  Using the Goals as a unifying framework, segments of society that may not have a history of collaboration have a new chance to find ways of working together. The Goals create a narrative as vast and rich as the societies in which we live.  The lessons we have learned from the innovative and open drafting process for the Goals should give us all confidence that inclusive processes, coupled with advances in communications and data analysis technology breakthroughs, can help us overcome traditional bottlenecks and conflicts that have hampered development progress in the past.

CSOs have a right to be proud of their role in drafting the Goals.  Even an open invitation to participate can only be properly leveraged if there are concerted and organised efforts to do so and the largest engagement still comes from sensitised communities – participation does not happen automatically. The Goals will serve as a continuing challenge as each country sets about working towards them. For our part we are building out the next chapter of the MY World project to foster ongoing engagement from people and civil society in tracking progress, domesticating the agenda and building accountability networks, inspired by the story of the Goals’ origin which serves as a living reminder and testament to the power of true open participation.

German Government & UNDP sign statement to establish UN SDG Action Campaign Center in Bonn

(Photo: SDGs Action Campaign/Bonn)

This morning, on Tuesday 24 of May 2016, State Secretary Friedrich Kitschelt and the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Development Programme Assistant Administrator and Director for Policy and Programme Support, Magdy Martínez-Solimán signed a Statement of Intent to undertake global activities and open a Global SDG Action Campaign Center in Bonn, supported by the German Government.

The settlement of UN SDG Action Campaign stands for another milestone in the relevance of Bonn being at the same time a UN city and becoming furthermore a global hub of sustainability. The Campaign’s activity corresponds with Bonn’s slogan of ‘Shaping a Sustainable Future’ since 18 UN-organizations employing 1.000 staff members are within short reach. The Federal German Government strongly supports these efforts as we see the added value of a strong partner” – State Secretary Kitschelt.

Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán; Assistant SG and Director of the BPPS UNDP & Mr. Mitchell Toomey; Director UN SDG Action Campaign

The Center will be a strategic hub for the UN SDG Action Campaign to deliver on its mandate to inspire people’s action on the Sustainable Development Goals, connect and amplify stakeholder efforts, including those of the UN system and Member States, open up measures of accountability, aggregate citizen-generated data, showcase impact, share best practices, and incubate and test out innovative efforts around SDG implementation.

The success story of the long-standing partnership between the Campaign and UN Volunteers (UNV) programme will serve as a strong foundation for the new Campaign Center, which is intended to make a mark at the local level also; supporting the efforts of the UN family in Bonn (UN Bonn) and the Municipality of Bonn, among other key local actors.

The signature of this Statement of Intent and the establishment of the Global Campaign Center sends a strong signal about Germany’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. The Center will be central to the UN’s strategy of providing cutting-edge advocacy support, big data expertise and analytics to Member States and partners across the globe, 24/7 from Bonn. UNDP is proud to be the principal UN entity backing the Campaign.” – Mr. Martínez-Solimán.


IMG-20160524-WA0095The Global Campaign Center of the UN SDG Action Campaign will be located in Haus Carstanjen, which was the first site of UN Bonn and housed the signature of the historic Marshall Plan. This will ensure the synergetic efforts and joint work of the UN SDG Action Campaign with the recently inaugurated Knowledge Center for Sustainable Development of the UN System Staff College.

In addition to the Global Campaign Center, the UN SDG Action Campaign will maintain a distributed operational base, including presence in New York to facilitate the link with the UN Secretary General’s Executive Office and the UN Development Group management process, as well as the presence for New York-based events and conferences.


ParisAgreement: SDG Action Campaign @ Digital Media Zone – UNHQ

IMG_5998Two major events recently occurred at the United Nations Headquarters: the High Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the High-Level Signing Ceremony for the Paris Agreement.

From Tuesday 19th to Friday 22nd of April, the UN SDG Action Campaign interviewed guests about their priorities and perceived challenges in the SDGs in the Digital Media Zone (DMZ). We shared our work on MY World 2030, The World We Want and Virtual Reality and conducted interviews and social media moments. The DMZ is a designated space hosted in parallel to High Level Meetings at the United Nations, such as the Signing Ceremony for Paris Agreement, which designates a “live social media newsroom” where journalists, bloggers, celebrities and media influencers can join the conversation, generate discussion and engage the global online audience.

During these few days, the UN SDG Action Campaign emphasized the importance of empowering and inspiring people across the world to take action in supporting their governments with the implementation of the SDGs. The Campaign invited delegates to be some of the first participants to vote in MY World 2030.

The UN SDG Action Campaign also showed the power of new technologies and storytelling in bringing the experience of vulnerable communities to decision makers and global society. Clouds Over Sidra and Waves of Grace are two films in the United Nations Virtual Reality Series which help create deeper empathy and understanding. Although these have been screened at the UN many times, there are always new people who have yet to have the experience.

  • The VR experience was just unbelievable. This is truly incredible
  • It was very touching. I almost cry looking at the images. To see into the eyes of someone living in a refugee camp is really touchy and give you an other sense of what is happening there”.