On Saturday 1 September, hundreds of people gathered at the port of Yokohama to say goodbye to the Peace Boat’s 99th Global Voyage, the first to sail in collaboration with the UN SDG Action Campaign. Departing from Yokohama, Japan, on September 1 and returning on December 17, 2018, Peace Boat will visit to 24 ports in 23 countries in 4 months, to mobilize people to take action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In collaboration with the UN SDG Action Campaign, Peace Boat’s Global Voyages will conduct education, advocacy, capacity building and awareness raising for the SDGs.
“Inspiring and engaging everyone to take action is the only way the SDGs will be achieved. Combining the expertise, tools, and creativity of the UN SDG Action Campaign with the reach and the innovative approach of the Peace Boat, will allow us to mobilize more individuals to step forward and join the global movement taking action for the SDGs.” said the Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, Mitchell Toomey. Peace Boat Director and Founder, Yoshioka Tatsuya said “Peace Boat and the UN SDG Action Campaign share common goals. Working together, we will be able to engage more people to achieve the 2030 Agenda“.
Various related events will be held during the voyage, including an event together with the UNDP in Male, the capital of the Maldives, on September 17 and actions as part of the mass mobilization day on the SDGs anniversary o 25 September, the Global Day to #Act4SDGs.
Both entities will join forces in the development of Peace Boat’s educational programming, including Global University and SDG Youth Programmes, through guest educators from the Campaign and partner networks, the global citizen platform MY World and the MY World photo and video stories.
Furthermore, the UN SDG Action Campaign and Peace Boat will collaborate to develop SDG educational and visual content, events and exhibitions to make the SDGs part of the Peace Boat’s Ecoship which will sail as the Flagship for the SDGs and be the platform for Peace Boat’s future voyages.
The United Nations SDG Action Campaign and Peace Boat announced their collaboration through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA, in July.
25 MY World Advocates have started their actions in Southeast Asia. Through the programme, these changemakers carry out various activities to raise awareness about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to increase citizens engagement and to inspire concrete actions on the ground. We are excited to share some of our advocates’ actions which already took place.
Nadhilah Muhammad Razak – a Malaysian advocate has the passion for environmental education. She has visited various schools in Malaysia to give speeches on SDGs and to conduct ASEAN MY World survey. To promote SDGs and to make sure no one left behind, she is not only active in meeting with state government, local officers but also to meet with marginalized groups in rural villages.
Aung Ko Oo – a Myanmar university student who is based in Bangkok, Thailand has created his facebook’s page on SDGs. Through this page, he documents ‘Humans of MY World’, which shares stories of many young people in the region regarding their thoughts on SDGs.
Nurul Hadina Haji Alias – a teacher at a local Sixth Form Centre in Brunei Darussalam loves to use her passion for life-long learning to help inspire and create positive change for individuals in the wider community. Raising awareness on SDGs for school students and providing SDGs knowledge through her Twitter and Instagram channels are one of her current activities.
Other advocates are doing well on their ways to bring ASEAN MY World survey to people in their countries through both online and offline voting. Giving school talks, organizing workshops and public discussions on SDGs are among some of activities in the upcoming months. The result of these activities will be presented to the government and relevant stakeholders at the end of the programme to contribute to create pressure and accountability for their commitments to deliver SDGs in the region.
Do you have passion for SDGs? Are you based in ASEAN region? Do you want to know more about our advocates and support their works? Then reach out to us via @SDGAction.
SDG branded football serves as a reminder of the cooperative action needed to achieve the SDGs
GANGWON-DO, February 16, 2018
On the 16th of February, high-level dignitaries brought together the messages of the Olympic spirit, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the importance of providing a quality education for all to a classroom in Gangwon Province, South Korea, showing the intersection of these important ideals through a recognizable and beloved object: the football.
In a ceremony led by the United Nations SDG Advocacy Group’s Co-Chair, H.E. Mrs. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, and fellow SDG Advocate Ambassador Dho Young-Shim delegates spoke of the connection between these three ideals with 100 school children at the Musan Community Children’s Center Primary School, stressing their foundational importance to understanding an individual’s responsibility of global citizenship, and the collective responsibility of working together to build a more peaceful and equal world by the year 2030.
The students had the chance to ask the delegation questions. Following the short ceremony, they were gifted a reminder they could keep: an SDG branded football.
“The Olympic Movement and the SDGs promote world cooperation and the lesson that with hard work you can excel. Sport and education prepare children for life as global citizens and future contributors of society. As part of that, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to make sure that all children in all countries can have a quality education and enjoy good health. In the context of the new goals, we are all developing countries with work to do at home.”
The Olympic ideals promote the importance of excellence, friendship, and respect. The SDGs similarly promote profound collaboration, an equal sense of responsibility for all countries, and a focus on helping the most vulnerable communities in an effort to leave no one behind.
A quality education (SDG 4) entails a comprehensive approach to life-long learning, not only in the classroom, that will capacitate students with values and skills that allow them to become global citizens who contribute towards a better world. In addition to the health benefits, sport can motivate children and teach values of camaraderie and inclusion. With UNICEF estimates of 61 million children of primary school age not enrolled in school, sport can also help reach the most vulnerable children who may be outside of formal education settings.
“The world [these students] will enter as grown-ups will be full of challenges and uncertainties. In the years to come, the children from this school will be key players in the global quest to achieve the SDGs,” said Solberg. “With a quality education, they will have the universal currency they need in life to take action for sustainable development.”
The SDG Advocates were joined by Mr. Choi Moon Soon, Governor of Gangwon Province; Ms. Kristin Kloster Aasen, International Olympic Committee Representative to Norway and Ms. Soohyun Kim, Head of Office, UNICEF Seoul Office .
“By studying the icons, the children can learn about the different goals and be reminded that they too should take action to make the world a better place” said Solberg.
The dignitaries then broke down the formalities of the ceremony and effectively passed the torch onto the next generation, learning from the children what they know best: how to play.
This event was organized by the United Nations SDG Advocacy Group and the UN SDG Action Campaign.
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About The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by 193 Heads of State and Government on the 25th of September 2015, represent an unprecedented leap forward in the fight against poverty, inequalities, and climate change. They embody a universal, inclusive and transformative vision of development, which calls upon all Member States to ensure a life of dignity for all, leaving no-one behind. The realization of this agenda by 2030 will require the cooperation of international actors as well as bold individual and collective action by all.
About the United Nations Secretary-General’s SDG Advocacy Group:
The Secretary-General nominated 17 eminent individuals to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030 by working to promote the universal sustainable development agenda, raising awareness of the integrated nature of the SDGs, and fostering engagement with new stakeholders in the implementation of these Goals.
About the United Nations SDG Action Campaign:
A special initiative of UN Secretary-General mandated to support the UN system and UN Member States on advocacy and citizen engagement in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The Campaign empowers and inspires people across the world to take action by building multi-stakeholder partnerships and leveraging cutting-edge communication technologies to bridge the gap and ensure a transparent dialogue between world leaders and their constituencies, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Young people are the core power to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore it is essential to introduce them to the concept of sustainable social businesses and the role of innovation so that they can better lead the innovation in industry and infrastructure and solve social problems through unique innovative ways.
“Youths show a great sense of social responsibility. They understand the concept of social business and they have their own innovative ideas. I hope that they can put their plan into practice and more exchange opportunities between China and Bangladesh can be organized.”
Lamiya Moshed, Executive director of Yunus Center
China-Bangladesh Social Business Young Leaders Program is organized by Youthink Center and gets support from Yunus Centre, Social Business Youth Alliance, Grameen, Intel and other social businesses in Bangladesh. It is a one-week program where the participants will engage in dialogue with Nobel Laureate and SDGs advocate Professor Muhammed Yunus, visit Grameen Bank, lead a social business in Dhaka and then design their own social business idea.
The student teams undergo three main phases:
Learning: Students learn about social business and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Field Visiting: Students go to different social businesses to learn about their models and practices.
Designing and competition: Students design their own social business and present it to partners and stakeholders.
On 25th September 2017, 2nd anniversary of the SDGs we are calling for actions across the world to tell people about the global goals and tell our leaders how we are performing. We the People #Act4SDGs.
Read more stories of Action for SDGs from all over the world and be inspired …
Join the conversation at the UNGA Side Event on “The SDGs in Action: Country-led, Country-owned” on 21 September 2017, hosted by UNDG. Speakers include Heads of State/Government and Ministers from the Gambia, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, and Colombia as well as the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the UNDG Chair. Find more information here
Colombia pioneers the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
In the early days of SDG implementation, the Goals have proven to be a powerful driver of Colombia’s National Development Plan, the Peace Agreement, and local development plans.
In the department of Nariño on the Pacific coast, young people are overcoming adversities and inequalities. Here is their story on how rural entrepreneurship contributes to peaceful communities.
The City of Montería has become one of Latin America’s greenest cities, linking green urbanism, transportation and renewable energy to the SDGs. Read more about Montería’s journey.
SDG 6 is coming to life – Korean professor invents device for safer drinking water
For the SDGs to come to life, it is often said that we need new ways of working, new partnerships and everyone to participate – not only governments and UN agencies.
Professor Kyoung-Woong Kim has embraced this message. Together with his team at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, he has developed a water purification device with the potential to change the lives of millions of people.
So how does the device work? As a specialist in soil and underground water contamination, Professor Kim has developed a membrane allowing the purification device to selectively remove water pollutants including pathogenic bacteria. This means purifying contaminated water to 99.9% drinking water. What’s more, the device can be easily installed in disaster-affected areas since its design allows water to flow through the membrane by manual pedaling, without any need for electricity.
Today, 663 million people are still without access to safe drinking water. To achieve SDG 6 local communities, researchers and business need to come together.
Through project “Ongdalsam”, or “Small water spring” in Korean, Professor Kim aims to engage with developing countries where climate change, rising sea levels and water-borne diseases caused by polluted drinking water is a threat to development. The project was first known across Korea when it was discovered in 2009 that the device could purify two liters of water per minute, providing drinking water to about 200 people a day. Since then the device has traveled to Sudan, Fiji, and Kiribati and soon to Tuvalu, where climate change is a threat to water security.
Global sustainable development requires more researchers and entrepreneurs to follow in Professor Kim’s footsteps.
SDG10: Reducing inequalities – Early attention to the rights of girls and boys with disabilities in Mexico
In Mexico, an initiative on reduced inequalities focusing on children with disabilities has improved the lives of 12,000 boys and girls. So far, 350 caregivers in 9 states have been trained to improve the quality of care and to achieve the full development of children’s skills and abilities.
The Mexican Ministry of Social Development leads a Childcare Facilities Program for Working Mothers that includes 9,200 facilities and reaches 300,000 children in poverty-stricken homes; about 1.7% of whom have a disability. A while ago the UN carried out an analysis of the program, which showed that those in charge of caring for children with disabilities, mostly women, did not have the adequate training to detect developmental challenges, nor to provide caring that allowed the children to reach their maximum potential.
This is the background to a pilot initiative* that aims to increase the quality of care for children with disabilities. So far, 350 caregivers in 9 states have been trained, benefiting more than 12 000 girls and boys. Focus lies on early intervention. The idea is that attending to children with disabilities at an early age will foster the full development of their skills and abilities, give better opportunities to complete schooling and ultimately increase their prospects of leading a life as a fully empowered society member. Caregivers were also trained in human rights, diversity, inclusive planning of educational activities, accessibility and development of community support and networks.
All people may at some point in their life experience a disabling situation. It is a universal issue and is as such addressed throughout the SDGs. For these 12,000 boys and girls, the pilot initiative has meant real change and development. This is what the 2030 Agenda is about: implementing public policies that target the most vulnerable to ensure that no one is left behind.
*The pilot initiative “Model of care and inclusive care for children with disabilities in the framework of the Program of Childhood Stages to Support Working Mothers” is funded by the United Nations Fund to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) and brings together UNDP, UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization/WHO. The project seeks to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed by the Mexican government in 2007.
Country-led progress on the SDGs – the journey of The Gambia
Only nine months ago, the Gambia stood on the verge of conflict. Yet since then, the leadership has launched a reform agenda towards a progressive democracy that addresses the needs of all its citizens. A new chapter has begun.
After 22 years of authoritarian rule, The Gambia is facing a unique opportunity for transition. The African Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals can be powerful levers for change as the government stands committed to achieving the SDGs.
For the Millennium Development Goals, the precursors to the SDGs, Gambia indeed made significant progress in several areas. Gender equality was one. In 2015, the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting was criminalized, placing The Gambia among 26 other African countries that have banned this nefarious practice. The targets on water and sanitation were met with over 85% of the population having access to clean water and sanitation. Child mortality was significantly reduced.
But unfinished business remains. Many mothers still die while giving birth and The Gambia aims at a maternal mortality ratio of less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030 or sooner.
Almost one in three Gambians are vulnerable to food insecurity. To achieve SDG 2, the recently launched National Zero Hunger Strategic Review is identifying hunger gaps at all levels. This will be followed by regional consultative sessions throughout the country.
As a low-lying country, situated close to the sea, The Gambia is one of the most vulnerable places in the world to climate change. To adapt and mitigate the impacts, the government is implementing a series of actions. The Climate Change Early Warning Systems are being strengthened. Energy and environment concerns are being mainstreamed into national, regional, and local policies, strategies, programs, and plans. Disaster hotspots are being identified to enhance the resilience of coastal and vulnerable communities.
Key to all of these challenges is the younger generation. With a population of only 2 million, The Gambia accounts for a disproportionate number of people embarking upon the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in search for a better life. By August 2017, Gambians accounted for 5.6% (or 6 294 persons) of all arrivals in Europe from the Mediterranean, according to UNHCR.
The government is now developing a migration policy, through a participatory and inclusive approach, including youth organizations. But the Gambian youth must also see a peaceful, sustainable society with opportunities for decent work, access to education and healthcare to feel like they play are a role, are excited about and confident in the country’s future.
This is the moment for Gambia to scale up and gain momentum on what has been set in motion. If wholly-owned by the people, and led by the government, the SDGs can be a vital travel companion on their journey.
Join the conversation at the UNGA Side Event on “The SDGs in Action: Country-led, Country-owned” on 21 September 2017, hosted by UNDG. Speakers include Heads of State/Government and Ministers from the Gambia, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, and Colombia as well as the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the UNDG Chair. Find more information here
On January 22nd, over 500 educators and students from around the world participated in the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) 2016 annual conference to learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG Action Campaign was invited to showcase Humans of MY World data and stories, the World We Want platform, and the UNVR series.
In September 2015, delegates from 190 countries met at the UN headquarters in New York to agree on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to guide global development over the 15 years. The SDGs are the most inclusive and transparent goals for the world ever because the consultation process was truly human-centered: 10 million people all over the world have voted for their most passionate goals through the MY World 2015 Global Survey. In this world’s largest survey, “A Good Education” has been identified as the most popular priority among voters across region, gender, and age (See data: http://data.myworld2015.org/). With that said, worldwide educators and administrator are key partners of the SDGs.
The conference acknowledged the significance of taking immediate actions. Anne-Marie Carlson, Chair of CTAUN 2016, said at the beginning of the conference:
“Knowledge and good intentions are not enough. It is vitally important that we act now to bring these issues to the fore in every school’s curriculum, so that, to our children, behaving responsibly and living sustainably will become simple common sense. ”
The mission of the SDG Action Campaign is to empower people from various backgrounds with knowledge and tools to become actively involved in supporting the SDG implementation. At the CTAUN 2016 InfoFair, we brought a comprehensive yet easy-to-start SDG Implementation “manual” for 500 educators, administrators, and students around the world to inspire and help them to plan and make their own SDG actions. (click here to download) The one-page “manual” was welcomed by many of our guests:
“We really want to know that as college students, what we can do for the SDGs, where can we get resources and how can we start?”— Eayne Castillo, student of Pace University
“I believed that many of my colleagues working in schools would find this very helpful.—Ruth Nielsen, CTAUN
Ruth later shared with the SDG Action Campaign that we “certainly had the most innovative displays” – thanks Ruth! The SDG Action Campaign also showcased the well-known Virtual Reality films “Clouds Over Sidra” and “Waves of Grace” to the InfoFair. The strong emotions that brought by the films as well as the cutting edge VR technology enhanced people’s understanding of the most marginalized groups. Teachers and professors were eager to use this powerful empathy tool in their future class of SDGs; Students were inspired to organize VR screening events on campus to bring awareness of SDGs among youth.
“This film brings in the truth and reality of Syrian refugees, which is all we need right now.”
— Aliya Bultrikova, Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the UN
“I plan to add SDG contents to my curriculum, and this (VR) will be an amazing experience that enriches the learning process.”
— Chris Rhodenbagh, teacher of Democracy Prep Public Schools
“I’m thrilled. I want all my students to watch this!”
—Dr. Kathryn Lawter, Advisory Council Chair of CTAUN
On the same day of CTAUN 2016, we welcomed a group of young delegates from University of International Business and Economics of China discussing SDGs and education with the Campaign. Tim Scott, policy advisor on Environment of UNDP, and Antje Watermann from UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific kindly joined the meeting and introduced the 17 global goals as well as the implementation process in China to the young delegates. The audiences were passionate about the MY World 2030 survey and highly interested in the innovative waste project initiated by UNDP China and Baidu.
Alice Chen presents results of MY World 2015 survey and introduces MY World 2030 to young delegates from China.
In 2016 when the SDGs officially came into force, there really has been no better time than now for global educators to think deeply about how to take actions and to inspire the action of students, to ensure the successful implementation of the 17 goals in the next 15 years. To that end, CTAUN, which has been enthusiastically advocated for the SDGs, passionately addressed the 2030 global agenda in its 2016 annual conference with hundreds of educators and students. The all-day conference gave an explicit overview of the SDGs, discussed topics such as global food security, sustainable food production and consumption. It also addressed environment issues surrounding water, energy use and climate change. From the Campaign’s perspective, we are delighted by this opportunity to speak directly with educators in the field who are inspiring young minds on a daily basis. These young minds will one day become the leaders of tomorrow and the ones to transform the SDGs into reality over the next 15 years.
Ever wonder what can happen on an epic train ride across India to talk about the SDGs? Here’s your answer! I was a part of a Jagriti Yatra journey with 449 other young people to 12 destinations in India to share news on the SDGs and the World We Want. A Yatra takes us along the major challenges and help us shape our own ideas. It dives into the rich cultural heritage that our country is honored with and experience the shift in climate as the train proceeds from South to North. The Yatra is the germinating ground for ideas and exchange of culture. It is a place where individuals from different backgrounds come together and feel the responsibility of being the change. Fifteen years is what we have to create a better society and youth is the Only Catalyst. Yatra teaches us the best to way to contribute. Get down to the society and get our hands dirty!
Journey with a Vision
Jagriti Yatra is a 15 days, 8000 km world’s largest national train journey, which takes selected youth to meet the role models who are developing unique solutions to India’s developmental challenges. It attracts 17,000 registrations through India and some parts of the world of which only 450 of the most qualified are selected for the journey. The train stops in 12 locations and youth delegates have the opportunity to personally meet exceptional change-makers who are transforming India.
Jagriti Yatra has been a transformational journey, which aimed for an equal representation of young women and men to achieve the Planet 50-50 by 2030. Jagriti Yatra had 40% girls and women representation in 2015. During my Yatra (Journey), I had been advocating for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the World We Want platform. Sustainable Development Goals need to be trickled down in the society through the youth body channels and it’s very important for youth to know about the SDGs. Unfortunately, a minority of us know about our vision of 2030. Thereby, it’s essential for us to show a clear vision of the next 15 years before we actually jump right into achieving the goals.
Advocating about SDGs and World We Want
Gender Equality is not a short-term goal. However, we need to start bringing a shift in the mentality of the people from today by talking about the equal opportunities.
Through the MY World 2015 Survey, we can see that of the 902,300 people who have voted in India, over 400,000 prioritized Equality between men and women, making Gender Equality the number 5 most prioritized issue in the survey.
Young women and men are the carriers of our vision and we need to engage discussions with more young people. The role of young people is not only important as actors in attaining gender equality, but also as partners in creating a world that is equal if we want to achieve the goal of planet 50-50 by the year 2030. Campaigns such as HeForShe, MARD, #YouthForGenderEquality need strengthening as we move towards the SDGs.
Founder of Innokul commits to Goal 5 vision
Life on the train is as busy as it gets! With a packed schedule of debates, presentations and conversations, and a blend of art, music and poetry, Yatris find themselves fully involved at all times. The Yatra sets out to be a life changing experience for us to catalyse that shift in mindset. Not only to you but through you, to millions of youth who are watching this expedition as it curves across this great and beautiful land of ours. When we hear how our inspiring role models have created their institutions surmounting all odds; when we hear of the stories of leadership and courage from our co-travellers, we discovered an India that waits to be unleashed. You are that dynamic spirit that will unleash a new society.
By Di Cao-Youth Advocate of UN Millennium Campaign
During the 70th UN General Assembly, the UN Millennium Campaign (UNMC) together with our important partners from Chinese civil society organized a series of events to further engage Chinese NGOs in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With one-fifth of the world’s population, China has achieved the Millennium Development Goals in seven development indicators ahead of time, including poverty reduction, halving the hungry population, universal primary education, eliminating gender discrimination in primary and secondary education, reducing under-five mortality, tuberculosis and malaria prevention and control, safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities. The direction of China’s future development endeavors and the degree of its commitment to global public goods will have a significant impact on the entire international community.
Director of the UNMC Mitchell Toomey and Secretary General of China NGO Network for International Exchanges You Jianhua
On September 18th, 2015, UNMC supported the China NGO Network for International Exchange (CNIE), the China All-Women Entrepreneurs (CAWE), and the China Great Wall Society (CGWS), in organizing “Balance and Sustainability: Chinese Civil Organizations Support Global Development Agenda” Roundtable in the UN Headquarters in New York City. Guests from the UN, government, private sector, and civil society from around the world attended the meeting. Keynote speakers from various professions shared their experiences and inspiring ideas about the SDGs: Mr. Yang Xiaoping, Vice President of Charoen Pokphand Group, talked about the innovation PPP model in developing modern agriculture; Mr. Huang Haoming, Vice Chairman, Executive Director of China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO), shared his research on activating the role of NGO in helping government to achieve poverty reduction goals. Chinese civil society has been actively involved in the implementation of the MDGs in the past. As the SDGs are about to launch at the time, a new proposal of Chinese civil organizations on the implementation of the post-2015 global development agenda was presented during the GA.
Attendees of “Balance and Sustainability: Chinese Civil Organizations Support Global Development Agenda” Roundtable
Following the roundtable, UNMC welcomed the Chinese delegation to hold a moment in the We the Peoples’ Hub to present significant achievements of China implementing the MDGs such as climate change and affordable energy from the NGO’s perspective. This moment also served as a platform for conversation between the UN and Chinese civil society on SDGs as well as the moving forward partnership.
Director of the UNMC Mitchell Toomey and guest speakers from Chinese civil society in We the People Hub
Youth advocates from YouThink
To bring a human perspective to the development agenda of China, UNMC showcased Humans of MY World in China, which featured the voices of various vulnerable communities and marginalized individuals in the country, including low-income groups, migrant workers, children and youth. During the China Moment, these stories were exhibited to a global audience through multi-media tools. The stories are also available on https://twitter.com/myworld2015
By Di Cao – Global Youth Advocate at the UN Millennium Campaign
(L-R) Olympic Champions and IAAF Ambassadors, Joanna Hayers and Dwight Phillips, IAAF President Lamine Diack, UNDP Country Director Agi Veres & UNDP Head of Policy and Partnerships Hannah Ryder.
UNDP and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) co-hosted a celebration of the social responsibility program Athletics for a Better World (ABW) in Beijing’s iconic Bird’s Nest stadium on Aug 26th during the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to celebrate international partnerships in sports and cooperate to promote sustainable, inclusive human development to make the world a better place. This reception is a series of events UNDP is hosting to celebrate the UN Day for South South Cooperation.
UNDP invited members of the Beijing international diplomatic community to attend the event, which included delegates and representatives from over 40 Countries and many partner organizations. The Virtual Reality film screening became the highlight of the night. The UN Millennium Campaign office brought two VR films to the audience to demonstrate global development challenges from around the world. Launched in early 2015, the film Clouds Over Sidra follows the life of a young girl living in the Za’atari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Waves of Grace features a community’s recovery amid the Ebola epidemic. Both films were designed to support the UNMC’s efforts to highlight the plight of vulnerable communities.
Attendees explored the ground-breaking technology through the virtual reality headsets with enormous passion, and the powerful, immersive watching experience brought the real lives of people in Jordan and Liberia straight to the Bird’s Nest. The audience were profoundly moved and gained deeper empathy of vulnerable communities.
“The most amazing watching experience ever before.” Exclaimed one diplomat working in Beijing after watching the VR Film. He added, “It’s like they are looking at me and talking to me, they are around me.”
As the world’s second largest economy, China achieved many of the Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule, and has become increasingly important in the overall global performance on the newly approved Sustainable Development Goals. In the MY World Global Survey, which aims to link voices of citizens to global leaders during the process of defining the new development agenda, Chinese people contributed 321,395 votes with a high level of involvement of youth. Better transportation and roads, support people who can’t work are the two most popular priorities among Chinese voters.
Clouds Over Sidra,which was created to support the United Nations Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group’s call for partnerships to build resilience in vulnerable communities, immerses the viewer in the life of Sidra, a young Syrian girl living in the Za’atari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Gabo Arora — one of the co-creators of Clouds Over Sidra — says that the inspiration behind the project was to use virtual reality to give a platform for viewers to gain a better grasp of the conditions in camps like Za’atari stating, “if we used virtual reality and made them actually walk in [Sidra’s] shoes…. they would care and be moved to action”.
The event used Samsung Gear VR headsets to give people the opportunity to experience the daily life of one of the many children whose lives have been changed dramatically by the conflict in small groups. These intimate screenings were followed up with a Q&A session moderated by Arora along with Dr. Wei Kunlin, Associate Professor at Peking University, Olivier Oullier, Professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at Aix-Marseille University; and Yobie Benjamin, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Avegant Corporation. The Q&A session discussed the impact virtual reality can have on outreach and advocacy for global issues such as the Syria Conflict that would otherwise be impossible with conventional forms of media.
In addition, the WEF took the screening as an opportunity to announce their plans to fund the translation of Clouds Over Sidra into Mandarin, bringing further light to a vital issue both to influential decision makers as well as the general public.