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:

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:


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 (

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

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 (

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.


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 (9143303774).


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

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


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

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: #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: #UNPortal #ZaatariPortal @sharedstudios

(c) ARG Media

Over one million people speak at the United Nations

1,130,000 people have answered MY World, the United Nations global survey to citizens- voting for education, health, honest and responsive government and jobs as basis for a better future. 

Results from MY World are being presented to world leaders during the 68th UN General Assembly session in New York through a report and an innovative and interactive new exhibit called “Listening to ONE MILLION Voices.”


Continue reading “Over one million people speak at the United Nations”