The United Nations is launching a global campaign with a media blitz and an array of stars from Beyonce to Usain Bolt to spread news to everyone in the world about its new goals to eradicate poverty, fight inequality and combat climate change.
The campaign is scheduled to begin on Sept. 25 when world leaders are expected to adopt the 17 goals at a U.N. General Assembly summit.
Film writer and director Richard Curtis, who is leading the campaign, told a news conference Thursday that he wants to make these new goals “much more famous and much more well-known” than the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals adopted at a summit in 2000 which they will succeed.
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To reach the world in a week, Curtis said the campaign is engaging every pillar of modern communications from schools to churches to radio, television, film and all online formats – and it is partnering with sports clubs, public figures, global brands, cinema advertisers, artists and grassroots organizations to get the message out by Oct. 2.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his final report that the MDGs helped lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty over the last 15 years, enabled more girls to go to school than ever before, and brought unprecedented results in fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS. But he stressed that inequality remains, with 80 percent of the people still living on less than $1.25 a day located in southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The new goals, which have 169 specific targets, range from ending poverty “in all its forms everywhere” to ensuring quality education and affordable and reliable energy, and protecting the environment. They are and will remain officially called the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which one journalist at the press conference called an “ugly and horrible name.”
But Curtis, the co-founder of Comic Relief who is responsible for movies including “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” has rebranded the name for the campaign, calling them Global Goals, with the words “for Sustainable Development” in small print.
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“I think for younger people the Global Goals will be easier,” he said, but adding in sustainable development means “we have our cake and eat it too.”
Curtis said the campaign – with the motto Tell Everyone – tries to make the complicated new goals “fun, bright, entertaining, interesting” to get the world’s attention.
Among the highlights are the first-ever global cinema ad, narrated by actor Liam Neeson; a seven-day pop-up global radio station on the goals streaming online, with an original soundtrack composition by Peter Gabriel; 101,000 billboards from New York’s Times Square to Piccadilly Circus in London and The Tower in Kuala Lumpur; and a song to inspire African youth by the continent’s top artists.
Curtis said the world’s top digital giants including Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo and Tumblr will be pushing the goals online. A festival in New York’s Central Park on Sept. 26 to promote the goals will be headlined by Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, Coldplay and Pearl Jam. And people can join sports stars like Gareth Bale and Gary Linekar in a game called Dizzy Goal and add their voice to Bill and Melinda Gates, Meryl Streep, One Direction and many others, all online to support Global Goals.