Peoples' Voices from around the world celebrated in SDGs Exhibition in UN Visitors Lobby

Since its launch on the 18th of July, the SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters has drawn excited crowds of visitors and high-level delegations from around the world.

IMG_20160808_115212.jpgH.E. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, visits the SDGs exhibition 

During the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), H.E. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and co-chair of the United Nations Secretary-General’s SDG Advocacy Group, was one of the first to visit the exhibition together with the Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen. Both expressed their commitment to making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality for all on the exhibitions large size blackboard. H.E. Erna Solberg wrote that she will continue to advocate for “Quality Education for All”, while H.E. Geir O. Pedersen committed to “Take Action against Inequality”.

IMG_20160718_110241.jpgH.E. Geir O. Pedersen, Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN, writing his commitment to the SDGs on exhibition blackboard 

The HLPF is central platform of the United Nations for the follow-up and review of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It provided political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and follow-up; keep track of progress of the SDGs; spur coherent policies informed by evidence, science and country experiences; as well as addressing new and emerging issues. In addition to visiting the SDGs exhibition, H.E. Erna Solberg delivered the opening key-note speech at the start of the Ministerial Segment of the HLPF on 18 July and presented Norway’s voluntary national reviews on its progress of delivering the Sustainable Development Goals on the 19th.

IMG_20160804_171540.jpgJCI members at the exhibition’s selfie station

Taking up the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s challenge that “youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels,” members of Junior Chamber International’s (JCI) visited the SDGs exhibition during the JCI Annual Global Partnership Summit. Held July 25 to 28 in New York City, the summit offered international leaders and JCI members the chance to visit the exhibition and experience its interactive selfie stations, take surveysand engage with the important challenges and opportunities that the SDGs present to youth globally.

IMG_20160729_111157 (1).jpgYoung students read the stories of Humans of MY World (www.facebook.com/homy2015)

Moreover, groups of national and international students have been particularly drawn to the exhibition’s touch screens hosting the MY World 2030 Survey (www.myworld2030.org), the High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment’s special MY World 2030 Empower Women Thematic Survey (www.empowerwomen.myworld2030.org) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Impossible Choices humanitarian challenge (www.impossiblechoices.org).

IMG_20160808_115129.jpgVisitor taking the MY World 2030 Survey on exhibition touchscreen 

The UN Virtual Reality film series, which allows visitors to immersively experience the life of some of the world’s most vulnerable using high-tech 3D VR headsets has been a major visitor attraction since the opening of the exhibition. Visitors have been touched by the human stories of the Syrian refugee crisis, the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and the effects of conflict in the Gaza Strip in the VR films Clouds Over Sidra, Waves of Grace and My Mother’s Wing (www.unvr.org).

IMG_20160729_104940 (1).jpgStudents watch United Nations Virtual Reality at exhibition 

Watching the movies and experiencing global issues up close has had a profound effect on visitors, many of whom have tried virtual reality technology for the first time. Especially touched was a group of students from LaGuardia Community College, NYC, who had scheduled a special visit to the virtual reality station. After visiting the exhibition with around 30 students the teacher wrote to the SDG Action Campaign to describe what a strong tool for the creation of empathy UNVR had been for the students:

“I just want to thank you for making the extra headsets available for my students last Friday. They were very impressed with the films. My students recently wrote an essay about whether or not the United States should take in Syrian refugees. Most of my students (who are all immigrants) said no, we shouldn’t let them in because there could be dangerous terrorists among them. One student stayed after class and argued with me about this, insisting that all Syrians are terrorists. After this particular student saw your film and experienced what it was like to be in a refugee camp, he told me he wants to rewrite his essay. We have been reading about refugee situations all during the term, we’ve seen film clips from the news, and we’ve watched Hotel Rwanda, and still most students wanted to keep refugees out. Your film changed that for some of them, which is very powerful. So thank you!”

The interactive SDGs exhibition will continue to be open until 4 September 2016.

HOW TO VISIT

The exhibition is open to the general public during official UN visiting hours:

  • Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • All visitors must exit the building by 5:30pm.
  • Virtual Reality screenings at the exhibition: Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.

The entrance is at 46th Street and 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Visitors without an official UN Pass will have to first obtain a guest pass at the screening station on 46th and 1st across the street from the UN. Be sure to bring a photo ID.

If your delegation or mission would like to schedule a special exhibition tour, please kindly contact Kristin Gutekunst at kristin.gutekunst@undp.org (9143303774).

 

MY World 2030 launches next phase

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Did you know, the MY World Survey is comprised of much more than one simple question now?

On July 18, 2016, the UN SDG Action Campaign, in partnership with UNDP, ODI and Global Pulse, launched the next phase of MY World in the UNHQ. Partners from multiple sectors joined in the discussion, reporting on methodologies and strategies. They also presented lessons learnt and preliminary results from early pilot testing and representative studies.

See what our speakers and panelist have said during the MY World 2030 Launch!

  • MY World is an opportunity to hear from voices across the spectrum, voices of the people who really shifted this agenda” – Rosemary Kalapurakal, Lead Advisor, 2030 Agenda Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP
  • We really need to work together to make sure that the spirit of the MY World campaign lives” – Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator and Director for the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP
  • MY World 2030 is about monitoring progress, satisfaction and awareness” – Mitchell Toomey, Global Director, UN SDG Action Campaign
  • The main focus of a questionnaire has got to be on the individual respondent” – Hayk Gyuzalyan, Methods Director, TNS Opinion
  • Partnership is not about engaging varying entities, but also engaging all individuals in ensuring we leave no one behind” – Muhsin Syihab, from Indonesia
  • Local actions must be taken to make impact, particular by youth” – Maria Fernando Olvera, Director of Injuve
  • We must continue unfinished business of MDGs through implementation of SDGs” – Princess Orelope-Adefulire, from Nigeria

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The UN MY World 2015 survey (2013-2015) showed that it is both possible and useful to bring peoples’ voices directly into policy making at a global level.  MY World was designed to bring the voices of individual people into the political deliberaCapture d’écran 2016-08-02 à 15.10.44tions on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it has been highly successful in doing so. Almost ten million people have responded to the survey, and the results have fed into every part of the political process for creating the new goals.  MY World has been cited as part of the High Level Panel deliberations, the Open Working Group discussions, the PGA consultations and the Independent Expert Group on Data. The SG, DSG, Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Secretary General Youth Envoy and chair of the UNDG regularly reference the MY World data.

MY World 2030 will have two clear areas to contribute to, enabled through four different channels.

Main goals of MY World 2030:

  1. Contribute to efforts to report back on progress. The aim here will be to collect globally comparable (both at scale and nationally representative) data to monitor how people feel their lives are changing. This data could feed into official monitoring efforts both locally and globally and contribute to an enhanced mechanism for the effective monitoring and implementation of the goals.
  2. Mobilise and build dialogue between decision makers such as parliamentarians, local governments, mayors and citizens, in particular young people in order to contribute a “people’s perspective” on how to implement the new agenda at different levels and establish accountability mechanisms.  This data and citizen voice will be focused at the community; municipal and provincial level and provide a rich source of information for national decision makers. It is envisaged that this dialogue will be aggregated at national, regional and global levels. The demand for this has been demonstrated by the MY Municipality initiative in Macedonia and the continued expansion of U Report globally.

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Continue reading “MY World 2030 launches next phase”

UN SDG Action Campaign at European Development Days

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UN team

On 15-16 June 2016,  the UN SDG Action Campaign jointly with the UN Brussels Team facilitated the setting up and coordination of an SDG Action Hub at the European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels, Europe’s leading forum on sustainable development. For its tenth anniversary, EDD 2016 focused on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Organized by the European Commission, EDD brings the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Watch our new video featuring highlights and prominent speakers from EDD 2016:

Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent an unprecedented leap forward in the fight against poverty and inequalities, as well as in the struggle for environmental sustainability. The SDGs 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.

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UN team with World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim, UN Secretary-General Ban  Ki-moon and his wife Mrs. Ban, and European Commissioner Neven Mimica

The EDD provided a unique opportunity to generate momentum around Agenda 2030 in Europe and across the globe, and to reflect on the universal character of the Goals.

At this year’s forum, the United Nations (UN) showcased and celebrated the Agenda 2030’s inclusive spirit of leaving no one behind and the SDGs, which are truly the “peoples’ goals”. It also underscored the importance of citizen engagement and action-centered initiatives to deliver on the Agenda and achieve the Goals.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium visits the UN Stand

Visitors to the stand had the opportunity to learn more about the SDGs through new technologies such as virtual reality, and interact with the data generated from the MY World survey, as well as to promote the SDGs first-hand by having a say at the stand’s meeting point and taking pictures of themselves with the different Goals.

Visitors interact with data and watch virtual reality

Watch video / See photos

SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind

The SDGs Exhibition Launches July 18 at the United Nations!

Throughout the post-2015 process and following a call to action from the United Nations Secretary-General in 2012, over ten million people shared their hopes and dreams with the UN to help shape the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we enter the era of Agenda 2030, the challenge now is to show that the SDGs are in fact achievable through partnership and action from everyone everywhere.  Will YOU become a part of this movement to build a better world?

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INTRODUCTION

The exhibition recounts how millions of ordinary people have ensured the Sustainable Development Goals are a bold and ambitious agenda through the most inclusive and transparent process the UN has ever seen. It also provides some concrete examples of the actions people can take now to help their governments with the implementation of the SDGs by 2030.

We need YOU to help ensure the SDGs become widely known and to ensure that as the Agenda 2030 is implemented, and NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND.

The exhibition was curated, designed and produced by the UN SDG Action Campaign on behalf of the UN Development Group (UNDG), in partnership with: the Federal Government of Germany, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

It features voluntary input and stories from millions of people around the world through data visualizations, photographs, videos, virtual reality. It also allows interactive ways to share your opinion, make your commitment and explore how to take action on the SDGs.

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HOW TO VISIT

The exhibition is open to the general public during official UN visiting hours, 418 July 18 – 7 September 2016,

Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
All visitors must exit the building by 5:30pm

The entrance is at 46th Street and 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Visitors without an official UN Pass will have to first obtain a guest pass at the screening station on 46th and 1st across the street from the UN. Be sure to bring a photo ID.

If your delegation or mission would like to schedule a special exhibition tour, please kindly contact Alice Chen at alice.chen@undp.org (6096510945)

FEATURED CONTENT

MDGs to SDGs

MyWorld-29Learn about the process that led us from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals with a special emphasis on peoples’ voices. By using cutting edge technology and data visualizations, the voices of over 10 million people, especially the voices of the most vulnerable populations, are told through the following initiatives:

  • MY World 2015 Survey – over 10 million people, most of them youth, have told the UN their top six of sixteen priorities for a better world, data that has fed into the post-2015 agenda
  • World We Want – a knowledge platform hosting documentation, and data visualizations including those from online, national and thematic civil society consultations
  • Humans of MY World – a photo exhibition telling the stories of MY World voters around the world
  • Virtual Reality – immerse yourself in the life of some of the world’s most vulnerable using high-tech 3D VR headset

Action to Engagement Arena

MyWorld-53The action and engagement arena allows visitors to “get their hands dirty” and take action for furthering the SDGs: right here, right now! These are some of the ways to take action:

  • MY World Survey2030 – Modeled after the first phase of MY World, this citizen satisfaction survey will monitor Global Goal progress and allow further specialization at a local level
  • Women’s Economic Empowerment– tell us what you think would help to empower women economically by filling out our survey
  • Own Your Voice– Virtually “Meet” six young women from around the world who are using their voice to change the world, they are the Youtube Change Ambassadors!
  • Commitment Corner – How will you help achieve the SDGs by 2030? Make your commitment on our SDGs blackboard and take a selfie, tag us @SDGAction

There’s more, but you’ll have to come see for yourself. Visit the SDGs Exhibition before September 7th 2016 and see what actions you can take for the SDGs!

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This summer, visit Refugees: a new exhibition in the UN Visitors Lobby

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Refugees Exhibition, UN Visitors Lobby (c) ARG Media

This upcoming September 2016, the UN General Assembly will address large movements of refugees and migrants at a High-level Summit in New York that will precede the annual General Assembly Debate. In the lead up to this, the UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign will be partnering with the UN Department of Public Information and UNHCR on an exhibition to draw attention to the plight of refugees, showcasing the individual stories and faces of those who are in in need of immediate help and desperate for the international community to reach and implement comprehensive and sustainable solutions. Through artistic installations that include infographics, photography, video, virtual reality, and a Portal, the exhibition will feature the personal stories of refugees as well as UNHCR’s latest facts and figures about the crisis. The exhibition will be open to the public in the UN Visitors Lobby from 20 June until mid-September.

As part of the exhibition, the UN SDG Action Campaign will bring you two immersive experiences, United Nations Virtual Reality + Portals, that allow visitors to feel first-hand what it means to be a refugee in the Zaatari Camp in Jordan. The Zaatari Camp is home to roughly 80,000 Syrians fleeing violence and war. Children make up half the camp’s population.

Opening of a new UN Portal to connect to the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan
Participants experiencing Clouds Over Sidra at the Refugees exhibition (c) UN Photo/Loey Felipe

 

Clouds Over Sidra is an award winning United Nations Virtual Reality film, which enables you to see Zaatari through the eyes of a young Syrian Refugee girl living in the camp. Individuals and groups may also schedule an appointment to visit the UN Portal that will and allow them to engage in dialogue and programmed events with Zaatari

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Dialogue with young boys living in Zaatari Camp, inside the Portal

The combined experience enables people to access locations and situations they would otherwise never experience, providing context for some of the most complex issues. Interactive experiences such as these also help build understanding of how successful implementation of the Goals can improve the life of a single person, and hopefully inspires action in helping to improve their lives, however small. Ultimately, the aim is to transform understanding of critical global issues that must be addressed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals into a medium that is instantly empathetic and universally relatable.

Opening of a new UN Portal to connect to the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan
Richard Amdur, speech writer for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, tells of his experience after he talked with a young Syrian refugee at the Zaatari camp via the UN Portal  (c) UN Photo/Loey Felipe

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The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General that seeks to create an enabling environment for SDG Implementation by building new multi-stakeholder partnerships and empowering people with the knowledge and tools to become actively involved in supporting their governments with the implementation of the SDGs. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the world’s plan and guiding principle towards a more sustainable and equitable planet. These are a universal set of goals, interconnected and focused on leaving no one behind. While these are long-term goals, they are also highly relevant during pressing moments of crisis as well.

United Nations Virtual Reality (UNVR), coordinated by the UN SDG Action Campaign, uses high tech headsets to immerse viewers in some of the most complex global challenges. Building upon its mandate to amplify the voices of those who are often unheard, particularly the world’s most vulnerable, the project seeks to show the human story behind development challenges, allowing people with the power to make a difference have a deeper understanding of their world, and hopefully to act to make a difference. See more: www.UNVR.org #UNVR @sdgaction

Portals is part of a global network of interconnected shipping containers with immersive audio and video technology that allow visitors to converse face-to-face with people across the world. Together they form a global community where people can engage one another across myriad forms of distance. The Portal is made possible by a partnership between the UN SDG Action Campaign; Shared_Studios, a multidisciplinary arts, design, and technology collective focused on carving wormholes in the world through the use of new technologies and partnerships; Bridges of Understanding Foundation, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, nonpolitical organization established in 2007 that enhances 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; and UNICEF Jordan. See more: www.sharedstudios.com/ #UNPortal #ZaatariPortal @sharedstudios

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(c) ARG Media

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

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(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.

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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.

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This International Women's Day, add your voice for gender equality!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAHDs83-YTc?list=PLbpi6ZahtOH7wspfDBo2YAPiQ1VgBEj81&w=560&h=315]

On International Women’s Day, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign and YouTube are launching an initiative to reach new audiences and inspire awareness and action on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The #OwnYourVoice campaign is the first in a year long series of efforts to inspire people around the world to raise their voices for gender equality and take action by sharing how they will contribute to the cause. 

IMG_3208In its pilot year, the inaugural group of Change Ambassadors include seven international YouTube creators who are passionate about global issues. When combined, Jackie Aina (US, lilpumpkinpie05), Taty Ferreira (Brazil, AcidGirlTestosterona),  Hayla Ghazal (UAE, HaylaTV), Ingrid Nilsen (US, missglamorazzi), Louise Pentland (UK, Sprinkleofglitter), Chika Yoshida (Japan, cyoshida1231) and Yuya (Mexico, lady16makeup), represent fan communities comprised of millions of people around the world. 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a remarkable opportunity to build a more sustainable and equitable world for present and future generations. This project aims to show the integrative nature of this universal agenda while highlighting the complexity and diversity of each of the issues.

“By working with YouTube and the Change Ambassadors, we can help inform and inspire new audiences to support the implementation of the SDGs” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign. “The United Nations can also learn a great deal from the Change Ambassadors by analyzing the measurable impact of the campaign and seeing how their audience reacts to this new approach.”

Throughout the year, the UN’s SDG Action Campaign will work with partners across the UN system to help the Change Ambassadors learn about the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as about the calendar of international events during which their influence could make strong impact. The creators will work to integrate the advocacy language into their own content programming on an ongoing basis and will also come together several times throughout the year to activate these topics through various angles.

“The ultimate goal is to empower current new media experts to get involved in issues that are important to the United Nations so they can take an active role in creating conversation and change with their highly engaged communities. We look forward to building this program together with YouTube and the inaugural group of Change Ambassadors over the coming year.”

Join in and take action to support gender equality: www.GlobalGoals.org/girls-progress

For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals, visit: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

For more information please contact Kristin Gutekunst, Project Manager, UN SDG Action Campaign (Kristin.gutekunst@undp.org) 

En el Día internacional de la Mujer, ¡Levanta la voz por la igualdad de género!

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En el Día Internacional de la Mujer, la Campaña de Acción para los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible de las Naciones Unidas y YouTube lanzan una iniciativa para llegar a nuevos públicos e inspirar conciencia y la acción sobre los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible.

‪#‎OwnYourVoice‬ es la primera campaña de otros esfuerzos durante un año para inspirar a la gente en todo el mundo a levantar la voz por la igualdad de género, actuar y compartir cómo van a contribuir a la causa. Continue reading “En el Día internacional de la Mujer, ¡Levanta la voz por la igualdad de género!”

Be one of the first to download new VR Film: “Waves of Grace”!

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It is our pleasure to announce the release of our next Virtual Reality film: Waves of Grace, now available for Virtual Reality headsets and for use with/without google cardboard on Android and iOS mobile phone platforms through the Vrse.works App.

Waves of Grace captures a young woman’s tale of love, loss, and rebirth amid the Ebola epidemic. In the film we accompany Decontee Davis, a native of West Point, Liberia, as she guides us through the streets of her township, into schools, hospitals, abandoned buildings and burial grounds. She finds solace by using her immunity to help patients, care for those orphaned, fight stigma, and in the faith of forgiveness. The film draws attention to the lingering effects of the Ebola virus and supports the Secretary-General’s push for continued attention and support to the Ebola response. It was originally prescreened at the United Nations Secretary-General’s International Ebola Recovery Conference, hosted to ensure affected countries receive the support they need to end the epidemic and continue countries on the path to recovery.

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Waves of Grace is the second VR film of the UN Virtual Reality and Vulnerable Groups Series, result of a collaboration between the United Nations Millennium Campaign and Vrse.Works – with the additional support of Vice Media for this film – and co-created by Gabo Arora and Chris Milk. The series attempts to draw attention to the world’s most pressing challenges and to bring the voices of vulnerable groups directly to decision makers. In using Virtual Reality technology, the aim is to create deeper understanding and empathy and to inspire action towards these causes. The first film, Clouds Over Sidra has met with international acclaim, winning Best Interactive Award at the Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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Burial scene from Waves of Grace – Vrse.works

DOWNLOAD NOW!

  • With the Samsung Gear VR and Samsung Phone: Download Vrse.works in the Oculus Home Store once using the headset
  • With iOS system or Android Phone using Google Cardboard: Download the Works App.
  • With iOS system or Android Phone without Google Cardboard: Download the Works App.

To learn more about the UN’s Ebola response, please visit: http://ebolaresponse.un.org/

Media contact: Kristin.gutekunst@undp.org

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Actor Jeffrey Wright with UNMC team members Kristin & Alice at the UN pre-screening event (c) Ally Gutekunst

Some of the great press already coming out:

  • World Economic Forum – Chris Milk & Gabo Arora – “Our overarching goal is to make virtual reality a catalyst for real-world change, solving the problems of today while showing just how relevant the principles of the 1945 UN Charter continue to be for all of us.”
  • Ebola Deeply – Austin Schiano & Kristin Gutekunst – “Moving through the streets of West Point, the despair, death and displacement left by Ebola permeates the community, but this is a film about all of humanity: there are flashes of laughter and glimpses of everyday normality. Virtual reality’s unique viewing leaves no space to ignore anything. The effect of Ebola on an already fragile society is clear: for many who have never been or may never go to Liberia, the film is a powerful, intimate second-best.”
  • Wired Angela Watercutter – AN INTENSE NEW virtual reality film isn’t a documentary so much as it is a prayer; its lector is a young Liberian woman named Decontee Davis, and her benediction is a plea for help to rebuild her country after Ebola ravaged it in 2014.”
  • The Creators Project – Kevin Holmes – “Both [Clouds Over Sidra and Waves of Grace] are powerful and emotive pieces of filmmaking, and the transportive nature of virtual reality means the they’re able to elicit a degree of empathy and agency that wouldn’t be apparent in a conventional film. Once you take the headset off, it takes a moment to adjust, not just because a moment ago you were in a virtual Liberia, but also because you just shared someone’s experience on a very personal, visceral level.”
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation – Kieran Guilbert “A virtual reality film aims to draw attention to prejudice towards Ebola survivors by guiding viewers through the life of a woman in Liberia who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease, the creators said on Tuesday.
  • Wall Street Journal Speakeasy – John Jurgenson – “In terms of technology, the first baseline is that we’re available through the Vrse app on every virtual reality headset. But if you don’t have that, you can use “magic window” mode on your phone [depending on the device], which makes your phone look like a window into a virtual reality world. And with the embeddable web player, you can just scroll around using your mouse. We’re trying to help people take the baby steps into the fullest, most immersive experience possible.”
  • Wired UK – James Temperton – “But ultimately this isn’t a film about despair, it is a film about hope —  a hope that things can get better.”
  • Inc.com – Scott Hartley – “Technology has the power to alienate, to distract, and to wedge its notification-rich self into each of our previously blissful under-connected worlds. But it has, in equal part, the ability to connect us, to make us more human, and to build empathy between us. Arora’s vision with UNVR is to shape the medium of virtual reality, and foster our enhanced humanity.”
  • Economic VoiceWaves of Grace calls attention to the formidable obstacles that Ebola survivors still face, despite having survived and recovered from the disease.  The film transports viewers to West Point, the most populous slum in the capital of Liberia, and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease.”

Building Bridges arrives in Cape Town, South Africa!

Jilt & Teun finish on Signal Hill in Cape Town
Jilt & Teun finish their 17,000 km cycling tour on Signal Hill in Cape Town

Blog by Kristin Gutekunst. Originally posted on UN Women’s Website.

After thousands of kilometres of dirt roads, small mountain paths, jungle trails and deserts, through 20 countries on two continents, UN Youth Delegate Jilt Van Schayik and Teun Meulepas arrived to Cape Town, South Africa! Throughout this six-month cycling odyssey from Amsterdam to Cape Town, aimed at hearing what people – and youth in particular – have to say about the development of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through MY World, Humans of MY World, HeforShe Campaign, and Building Bridges Youth consultations. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille attended a ceremony to mark the end of their journey on 12 August, International Youth Day.

Jilt Van Schayik, Kristin Gutekunst & Teun Meulepas lead Cape Town's Women's Humanities Walk during South African National Women's Day. 
Jilt Van Schayik, Kristin Gutekunst & Teun Meulepas lead Cape Town’s Women’s Humanities Walk during South African National Women’s Day.
Armed only with the gear that fit on their bicycles, a computer and a camera, they worked with young ambassadors in each country to organize forums and consultations discussing gender issues as well as results from the MY World Survey so as to understand the specific development priorities of young people in each country. They also visited community initiatives, and involved people they met along the way from rural and urban settings through a photo series called Humans of MY World. They accomplished the trip with very modest means, relying on the kindness of strangers and many times sleeping in the homes of those they met along the way.

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