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

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

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

SDG Interactive Exhibition 

 

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

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

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


High-Level Event on Innovation and Technology: SDG Innovation

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

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

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

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

SDG Action Campaign at the SDG Media Zone

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

The Campaign programmed and participated in 2 sessions:

Data tells the story on the SDGs

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

The Future We Want in Virtual Reality

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

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

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

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

The Global People’s Summit

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

 

Launch of the ASEAN MY World 2030 survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Support UNICEF Innovations new call for support for VR/AR

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you up to the challenge? Call for proposals: UNVR App

SUMMARY

We believe that virtual reality has the ability to unlock real potential for change. We have already witnessed the positive effects that early UNVR content has had on small groups via targeted screenings, and are now seeking to move our project to scale. That’s why we’re calling for the support of the international creative & tech community!

The UNVR project is seeking the services of an experienced team for the creation of an application that will host 360 video, and eventually room scale virtual reality content from across the UN system. This app will also be an environment to suggest ways to make impact, such as educational curricula, fundraising links, advocacy initiatives, etc.

To apply, please send a proposal to support@sdgactioncampaign.org by 31 August 2017. Extra consideration will be paid to those applications with reduced or pro bono suggestions. Please see the full terms of reference for more details below!

 

BACKGROUND

About Sustainable Development Goals https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

In September 2015, countries ratified the new Global Sustainable Development Agenda, with the target of creating a better world for people and planet and leaving no one behind. Agenda 2030 and the 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. The realization of this agenda will require the existence of sufficient political will and the generation of an enabling environment for citizens to actively engage in the implementation, monitoring and review efforts.

This presents the opportunity for renewed energy for global action to build a more equal and peaceful world. In effort to build global awareness and people’s’ participation in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals between now and 2030, the United Nations SDG Action Campaign is working with innovative partners to capture the attention and imagination of people who might not otherwise be aware of major development issues in their countries or locally.

About the UN SDG Action Campaign http://un.org/sdgaction

The UN SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of UN Secretary-General, administered by the UN Development Programme and mandated to support the UN system-wide and the Member States on advocacy and public engagement in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. With a proven track record since 2002, it empowers and inspires people across the world to take action in supporting their governments, 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. Through virtual reality (UNVR), new and traditional media, and other immersive experiences, the UN SDG Action Campaign leverages new technology and creative storytelling to empower individuals to share personal anecdotes of the SDGs. These initiatives create a bridge of understanding, empathy and collective accountability for building a better world and achieving the SDGs by 2030.

About UNVR http://unvr.org

Since 2015, the United Nations SDG Action Campaign has coordinated the United Nations Virtual Reality Project, using the power of immersive storytelling to inspire viewers towards increased empathy, action and positive social change. The project unites the UN system’s immersive content under one brand and distribution system, allowing the system to mutually leverage each other’s expertise and to collaborate.  The films provide a deeper understanding for those living in the most complex development challenges, catalyzing urgency for those most in danger of being left behind if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not met. It highlights those already creating solutions to inspire a sense of shared responsibility and collective action, however small. It will seek to capture the common human experiences that individuals face and showcase UN solutions and results that are both uplifting and enduring. It will illustrate partnerships with government especially at the local level, and show how the UN helps meet national priorities through sustainable development. By sharing these VR experiences the SDG Action Campaign is hoping to inspire change that improves peoples’ lives and creates the world we all want.

Building upon its mandate to amplify the voices of those who are often unheard, particularly the world’s most vulnerable, the project will also work to build partnerships that empower storytellers with sharing their talents by connecting people from the diplomatic, tech and creative world to innovate upon how VR stories are created, shared, and used for impact. Through such partnerships, UNVR aims to ensure a diversity of voices are heard and empowered with the right technology and mentoring. It will also allow people with the power to make a difference have a deeper understanding of their world, and hopefully to act to make a difference.

The Campaign created its first 360’ film in January, 2015. The project targeted decision makers primarily in the first phase of the Virtual Reality Project to spread awareness and create empathy; coordinating a series of exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, and media moments to further elevate the critical issues it addressed. The films were screened at the most important diplomatic forums to use in high level advocacy and policy impact, shown to decision makers as encouragement for them step into the shoes of their constituencies & take bold actions, creating media attention and momentum.

The films have helped position the UN brand positively, showcasing the organization’s ability to lead in both innovative technologies and storytelling. It has spearheaded a shift in storytelling, amplifying the voices of the most vulnerable people who are in danger of being left behind, while allowing these individuals to tell their own story with dignity. Finally it has allowed the UN system to unite under one platform to share resources and address cross-cutting issues.

Initial findings from testing VR for fundraising have shown the ability to inspire large increases in face-to-face fundraising across a variety of different variables, including: increased propensity to stop and engage; increased inclination to donate after engagement; increased average donation value. Apart from this, it was also found that the VR experience enables access to better locations and venues so that more individuals can witness the content.

The Campaign has ambitious plans to package each of the films in different ways so that they may be used by a variety of stakeholders to continue to raise awareness and for the complex global issues highlighted, especially for young people around the world. In addition to showcasing the VR experience at high-level UN meetings, the SDG Action Campaign is working with partners to create advocacy platforms, awareness and fundraising campaigns. Films will be distributed widely to raise the profile of individual issues with the purpose of helping raise resources and to promote awareness, as we have seen with previous VR documentaries from the UN SDG Action Campaign.  

By partnering with leaders in the field of new technologies for education and communication, the Campaign wishes to develop kits and curricula so that the films may be used in classrooms across the world to promote understanding, empathy and critical thinking for young people – connecting them across the globe. Initial testing has shown that VR is an effective tool to build context, awareness and interest for understanding and discussing real world situations. Through an open sourced app and accompanying curriculum, teachers can use it as a guided learning tool, inspiring brainstorming on ways to create real change.

 

UNVR APP

The UNVR app will allow the UNVR project to move to scale, creating an tool for advocacy, fundraising, and education. The UNVR app will serve as a home for some of this select content and encourage people to take actions related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UN produced films have traditionally lived on third party VR apps. The UNVR app will centralize the content being made into one platform, solving the critical need for a distribution method for the UN System. The app will include action-oriented messaging and links to complimentary campaigns so viewers can directly have an outlet for responding to the content.

In the future we foresee the project working as a distribution platform, and also a catalyzing agent to host educational information and curriculum, and to provide ways to take action on the issues contained within. It will serve as another critical open source tool for citizens around the world to easily contribute and campaign for the SDGs.

Criteria for first phase release

  • Display 360 VR video
  • Integrate audio formats for current content and Integrate dynamic audio formats such as .Mp3 and .tbe
  • Intro screen with multiple tour option, where user can select content/Scene by sliding the screen.
  • White labeled custom branding
  • Content to be categorised using a given taxonomy by UN Agency, region, SDG, topic and custom tags.
  • Keyword search for contents using the taxonomy and tags above.
  • In-app push notification functions.
  • ‘Sticky’ functionality for preferred placement in list for certain contents.
  • Click on title, thumbnail or short description brings audience to title page with more info with credits.
  • Hotspot option to display more info on the scene.
  • Click, GYRO and accelometer sensors based on app capabilities. When user gazes/clicks a link icon it should directly navigate to the content.
  • Users can navigate initially from device without HMD or while in HMD.
  • Universal access through WebVR or similar service.
  • Available on App stores for Google and Apple.
  • Action buttons after each video.
  • App will be dynamic for input from the UN which can be updated with new content from the UN side using specific style guides.
  • VR Analytics: Integrate with a 3rd party app provided by the UN that has normal analytics plus 360′ heat maps; advanced tech for emotional tracking to use head movements to decipher head movements and behavioral insights of users.
  • Supports branching narratives in 360 video.
  • Supports room-scale experiences.
  • Linked to SteamVR, Oculus and other non app or HMD specific storefronts.
  • Live streaming capabilities.
  • Multilingual capability for content and the app.

Criteria for next phase development (wishlist)

  • Supports branching narratives in 360 video
  • Supports room-scale experiences
  • Linked to SteamVR, Oculus and other non app or HMD specific storefronts

Format, branding

Appealing apps to model off of:

  • NY Times App
    • Positive: playlist capabilities, clean layout,
    • Negative: lacks an overarching search matrix of playlists, not easy to find new content in this layout
  • Within
    • Positive: new release notification on thumbnail. Download/stream buttons easy. Not easy to find content in this layout.
    • Negative: no further contextualized information listed
  • UNICEF 360
    • Positive: Donate button. Introductory video about the project, links to About Us Canada to drive towards further info.
    • Negative: lack of overarching info about the project and how it integrates into unicef – fragments UN messaging.

 

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  1. At least 3 years of demonstrated experience (sample work available on app stores) in developing apps for hosting content (preferably VR).
  2. Ability to design interactive user experiences that span across multiple app stores.
  3. Previous experience in working with the UN is highly desirable but not required.

 

DELIVERABLES:

  1. A VR app that will be supported for 1 year for maintenance after sign off on delivery by the UN.
  2. The application to be available on Apple, Android, VIVE, Oculus, Daydream and webVR.
  3. All source code and completed documentation handed over to the UN at the sign off off the project.
  4. All 3rd party servers and SAAS apps used  to be purchased (should be included in the financial proposal) for 1 year and credentials handed over to the UN at sign off.
  5. A detailed cost projection for 2nd year based on 3rd party servers and subscriptions used.
  6. Knowledge transfer of how to add new content and make minor UI updates such as adding new logos.

 

TO APPLY

Please send a detailed proposal to support@sdgactioncampaign.org with the subject: UNVR App Proposal by 31 August 2017. Proposals should address the listed qualifications and include a methodology, timeline, and supporting documentation that will help our consideration in choosing the best content proposal. Extra consideration will be paid to those applications with reduced or pro bono suggestions. During launch, a PR strategy will acknowledge the firm that produces the content, and proper accreditation will be paid as agreed.

How the United Nations is using Virtual Reality

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

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

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

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

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

“Refugee Realities”– Bringing individual refugee stories to the OECD

OECD / Michael Dean

By OECD

What if policy discussions on refugees didn’t take place inside boardrooms or official chambers, but rather in a forum where refugees themselves could intervene and argue for programmes that made sense to them? What if policymakers could personally interact with displaced populations? Would our policies be different, and better? Would our responses to forced displacement change?

While we are a long way away from a fully consultative and inclusive decision-making process, we know that policy making does not occur in a vacuum but rather that discussions are often held in official and unofficial spaces.  As such, the Secretariat of the OECD’s Temporary Working Group on Refugees and Migration invited its delegates to go beyond normative discussions and to experience the individual stories, personal interests and lived experiences of refugees at the “Refugee Realities Exhibition” on May 15.

OECD / Michael Dean

With the support of the UN SDG Action Campaign, delegates and OECD staff were able to immerse themselves in the world of Sidra, a 12-year-old Syrian Refugee living in Za’tari refugee camp in Jordan.

OECD / Michael Dean

Using headsets (provided by the UN SDG Action Campaign) to watch the movie Cloud over Sidra, participants noted that the authenticity of the experience deeply moved them. For many, this virtual experience was their first ‘visit’ to a refugee camp. Some noted that listening to Sidra’s voice was an important reminder of the hopes and desires of refugees, which are often lost in public narratives and may not always be present in policy spaces.

The exhibition also included photographs by Paris-based organization Action Emploi Réfugiés and Refugee Economics, a Canadian-based photography project. Alongside the virtual experience, the photographs also highlighted the strength of refugees in rebuilding their lives and showcased their creativity when working towards self-reliance.  Co-sponsored by the Canadian Mission to the OECD, the exhibition also underscored the importance of facilitating access to productive opportunities for forcibly displaced populations by safeguarding individual rights and recognising refugee needs and aspirations.

OECD / Michael Dean
OECD / Michael Dean

“Forced displacement is a development challenge that requires new forms of assistance and responses that go beyond current approaches” explained Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate at the OECD, during the opening of the exhibition. “By engaging in a thoughtful discussion on refugee realities, we hope to encourage programming that is human-centred”

View more event photos

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The Temporary Working on Refugees and Migration was established by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) to support the capacity of DAC members to deliver whole-of-government solutions in developing countries of origin, transit and destination, with a particular focus on delivering better quality results on the ground. The DAC is a unique international forum of many of the largest funders of aid and an important stakeholder in shaping standards and conditions of aid. As such, the group will deliver on its aim by August 2017 with the development of a “Guidance on Development Assistance in Situations of Forced Displacement.”

UN Virtual Reality at European Commission Open Doors Day

In May each year, the European Institutions celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the European Union. Entertaining, informative activities are organised throughout Europe and beyond. This is an opportunity for citizens to learn about the day-to-day work of the institutions, as well as the broader issues, challenges and benefits of the European Union for its 508 million citizens. This year the European institutions opened to the public on Saturday May 6th in Brussels and Sunday May 14th in Strasbourg.

The EU Humanitarian Aid stand welcomed visitors to immerse themselves in the world of humanitarian aid and civil protection. The stand was a replica of the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, a state of the art hub where duty officers follow potentially emerging crises 24/7 with satellite images. Visitors got a chance to talk to a real duty officer. Over 12.000 visitors came to the Berlaymont building and many of them came to the stand.

The stand featured a virtual reality classroom, featuring some United Nations Virtual Reality films showing the warzone in Gaza in 2014 (My Mother’s Wing), or the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan where Sidra, a 12-year-old girl, will be your guide (Clouds Over Sidra). Children took part in a giant world map game, where they found out about where in the world EU Humanitarian Aid operates.

People were watching the films in their entirety, from beginning to end. “Awesome”, “Impressive”, “Powerful” were the adjectives used by visitors to describe the experience. Some of them, after having watched one movie came back to view the others films.  The response was so high that a queue started to snake around the stand.

Images: European Commission Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

How can new technologies ensure we leave no one behind

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

Bridges of Understanding brings SDGs to their annual gala

Bridges of Understanding Annual Gala, 12 December: New York

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

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

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

 

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

Clouds Over Sidra shown at Supporting Syria Conference

unnamed (3)The UN SDG Action Campaign collaborated with the World Humanitarian Summit, UNOCHA, DFID and Samsung UK to design and coordinate two exhibition booths showcasing Clouds Over Sidra during the Supporting Syrians conference in London on 4 February.

The exhibitions gave  world leaders, conference attendees and volunteers the chance to experience the Syrian crisis through the eyes of Sidra, a 12 year old girl living in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. supportsyrians

The conference raised over US$ 11 billion in pledges in total. This included $5.8 billion for 2016 and $5.4 billion for 2017-20 to enable partners to plan ahead for the response. Commitments were also made to improve education and economic opportunities for refugees.

image4Those who were able to experience Virtual Reality were moved by the film, exclaiming that everyone should see it and returning with their colleagues and friends. Several visitors cried envisioning the harsh conditions many Syrian refugees face, especially children. One young visitor declared that VR would be extremely useful in his classroom to understand world issues. He was part of an exchange program between an English and Lebanese children.

More info on UNVR can be found on our website: http://www.UNVR.org