Immersive exhibition brings delegates closer than ever to refugees, displaced, and migrants during UNGA

The 71st regular session of the United Nations General Assembly met this past September, which also coincided with the High Level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. In an effort to raise the voices are those most in danger of being left behind, the UN SDG Action Campaign brought two immersive technology experiences to the UN Secretariat Building, highlighting some of the most complex global challenges the UN faces. The particular focus on refugees, displaced people, and migrants allowed diplomats direct access and a deeper understanding of their everyday realities.

Above: Haider al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq speaking to Waleed, a young boy displaced from Mosul by violence now living in the Harsham IDP Camp. Below: Ewan MacGregor, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF poses with Mirna, young girl he met on his last visit to the Camp in Erbil.

The United Nations Virtual Reality film series and Portals immersive experiences enables people to access locations and situations they would otherwise never experience, providing context for some of the most complex issues the UN is striving to mitigate. By doing so, the Campaign hopes it will help 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.

Throughout the course of the week, Delegates were able to watch several films on the newly launched UNVR app (available at www.UNVR.org) about the everyday realities of refugees. Filmed in the Zaatari Camp in Jordan, Clouds Over Sidra recounts the new normal for a young girl from Syria, and Born Into Exile by UNFPA highlights the importance of providing safe births for mothers, revealing the amazing statistic that zero mothers have been lost at the camp. Beyond the Lake recounts the harrowing experience of a woman escaping violence in Burundi who is able to start a new life in the DRC through the support of UN Women safe spaces. UNOCHA also previewed Home, a new film documenting the UN Secretary-General’s humanitarian tour, highlighting the plight of refugees living in Lebanon, Syria and the DRC.

Delegates further had the opportunity to have full-body conversations with individuals living these realities, in real time, through the UN Portal, curated by the CampaignShared_Studios, and Bridges of Understanding. It is part of an international project with countless locations around the world by Shared_Studios. The UN Portal connected to the Harsham IDP Camp in Erbil, curated by UNICEF  Iraq, allowing delegates to speak to young Iraqis displaced by fighting in Mosul. It also connected to a refugee resettlement home outside of Berlin, where delegates could speak to people from Chad, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria in varying stages of asylum seeking, and to young people at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan with Turquoise Mountain Institute. In the afternoons, the UN Portal connected to Mexico City with an NGO called Proyecto Habesha that is supporting Syrian refugees in coordinates higher education degrees in Mexico.

This exhibition was made possible through the political support of the Government of the Netherlands, the Government of Germany, the Government of Iraq, and the UN Department of Information.

The Campaign also shared the space with UNICEF’s Time Machine, an installation that  translating childhood memories from data into unique sound – giving visitors and delegates attending the UNGA an opportunity to understand the data on children currently available and areas that fall short.

Ambassador Power Visits We the Peoples' Hub

On the 30th of September, the UN Millennium Campaign welcomed US Ambassador to the United Nations H.E Samantha Power at the We the Peoples Hub. Ambassador Power was given a private walkthrough of the Hub along with reporters from Associated Press to see many of the instillations present at the hub.

Ambassador Power viewing a screening of Clouds Over Sidra at the We the Peoples’ Hub during the UN General Assembly.

During her visit, she was able to view the Virtual Reality film, Clouds Over Sidra, the story of a day in the life of Sidra, a twelve year old Syrian Refugee living in the Za’atari Camp in Jordan. Following this experience, Ambassador Power had the opportunity to step into a Portal and have a one on one conversation with Sidra, made possible by a collaboration with Shared Studios and UNICEF Jordan. Power and Sidra discussed topics from Sidra’s favorite classes to her aspirations for the future.

Virtual Reality helps decision makers like Ambassador Power step into the shoes of those living through some of the world’s largest development challenges, allowing them to experience their reality in a very real way. Portals are a global network of interconnected shipping containers that form a community center where people can engage one another in ways otherwise impossible. The Portals installed in the We the Peoples Hub gives individuals the unique opportunity to have a conversation and gain insight from someone living in the Za’atari Camp. These conversations bring a human element to global issues, helping bridge the gap between what we hear on the news and what is actually happening on the ground.

Ambassador Power was very impressed with the ability of the We the Peoples’ Hub to bring the human element to issues like the Syrian Refugee Crisis stating, “what the portal does… it doesn’t just give you those faces… [instead] you feel like you are right there”. Ambassador Power was also hopeful in supporting the introduction of a permanent We the Peoples’ exhibit in the United Nations’ headquarters as well as encouraging members of the U.S State Department to watch the film as well.  

Power’s statements come at a time where the United States are committed increase the number of refugees the United States is accepting with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry stating,We are committed to increasing the number of refugees that we take. And we are looking hard at a number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe”. As of September 2015, the United States have announced plans to accept a greater number of refugees globally, including a minimum of 10,000 Syrian refugees.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/141007218]

The Afrolatin@ Project announces regional partnership with UN MY World 2015 campaign

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Press release and photos by The Afrolatin@ Project, courtesy of Amilcar Priestley, Director.

Friday, July 25th,  2014 – Today which marks the Día de la Mujer Afro (Afrodescendant Women’s Day), the Afrolatin@ Project is pleased to announce the launch of  “CONTAMOS AFRO 2015”, our regional partnership with the United Nations MY World 2015/ World We Want 2015/ Beijing +20 (www.myworld2015.org) campaign.

Between today and December 31, 2014, the CONTAMOS AFRO 2015 initiative will be collecting and facilitating the collection of MY World ballots, using the voting widget embedded at www.afrolatinoproject.org, or via the MY World 2015 app for Android phones, text (SMS) message, the WhatsApp mobile app, email or paper ballot. The MY World campaign uses an innovative set of open source tools to empower global citizens to vote on the post-2015 sustainable development goals, by anonymously selecting 6 out of 16 possible issues of importance to them and their communities. People who want to elaborate on their choices can also record an audio message via our website, WhatsApp, Skype or video message via Youtube.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the information will be given to United Nations member-states to consider in setting national policy. The data will also be accessible and useful for the public as well as activists, journalists and educators. Here is a sample of the data we have collected as part of our soft launch: http://data.myworld2015.org/?partner=AFROLA

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Given, 1) the end of the period to achieve the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000, 2) the 20th anniversary of the last U.N. International Women’s conference held in Beijing, China and 3) the start of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), the MY World 2015 campaign and platform is timely.

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UNA Boulder County Collects Votes at Boulder Creek Festival

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This post was written by Pravin Nair, and Zuza Bohley, United Nations Association of Boulder County: http://unaboulder.org . Please be sure to follow them on Twitter, @unaboulder and also @unausa, and to follow the MY World data Results.

The United Nations Association of Boulder County participated in the Boulder Creek Festival 2014 during Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26. 2014. For over a quarter century, the Boulder Creek Festival has been the unofficial kickoff to summer in Boulder. Widely considered Boulder County’s favorite event, the Festival attracts an anticipated half a million people for three days of festivities, featuring a large variety of events, activities, food and entertainment unique to the Boulder community. The concluding day of the festival, Memorial Day at Boulder begins with America’s all time best 10K race “BolderBOULDER”.

The Festival is free to the public and features something for everyone: 9 separate event
areas with 500 vendors showcase everything from community arts and crafts to health
alternatives and technology while 4 performance stages feature a spectrum of music and dance. The Festival also features carnival rides, food and beverage vendors, and the signature event: a rubber duck race down the creek!

The City of Boulder requires all events within city limits to be Zero Waste events. The
goal at a Zero Waste event is to plan ahead and only distribute materials that are
recyclable, compostable or reusable (i.e. no materials that have to be landfilled).
United Nations Association of Boulder County reserved a booth at the Boulder Creek
Festival; our volunteers included members from Model United Nations club at Boulder
High School & University of Colorado and members from the UNICEF Campus
Initiative at University of Colorado.

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