UN Agencies team up to bring voices of Syrian refugees to world leaders through Virtual Reality

30 March 2015, Kuwait – The United Nations is using virtual reality (VR) to transport top decision-makers to a Syrian refugee camp at a major donor conference.  Clouds Over Sidra is a VR experience designed to take viewers to the Za’atari camp in Jordan – home to 84,000 Syrian refugees.  World leaders will follow a 12-year-old girl as she invites them into her new home, her makeshift classroom and to share a meal with her family.  The goal is to connect donors with Syrians affected by the war and inspire leaders to make bold commitments.

Following successful screenings at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sundance Film Festival, and TEDx, Clouds Over Sidra will be shown at the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait.  By transporting viewers directly to a Syrian refugee camp, the UN hopes to add to the discourse and refocus the world’s attention to one of the world’s largest refugee crises.

“At the UN Millennium Campaign, we consistently strive to bring citizens’ perspectives into the decision making process any way possible” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign. “By leveraging breakthrough technologies such as virtual reality, we can create solidarity with those who are normally excluded and overlooked, amplifying their voices and allowing them to explain their realities in their own words.”

The virtual reality film was created in collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign, UNICEF Jordan, Samsung, Chris Milk and his production studio VRSE.works. It premiered at the United Nations Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group event in Davos which called for partnerships to build resilience in vulnerable communities in the final year of the MDGs.

“I want to influence decision makers, first and foremost. I don’t think all of them truly know what [Sidra’s life] is like and, in giving them this experience, I’m hopeful they will be moved to weigh greater the consequences of their decisions,” said Gabo Arora, Senior Adviser to UN and Director of Clouds Over Sidra.

The number of countries in humanitarian crises is at an all-time high and it is estimated that the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons exceeded the highest number since World War II, according to UNHCR. Fifty percent of these refugees are children. The latest UNICEF Education Sector analysis, carried out in partnership with the Syrian Ministry of Education, estimated that between 2.1 and 2.4 million children in Syria were out of school and/or not attending school regularly.

“The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has launched a campaign called #WhatDoesItTake to express our profound frustration watching the Syrian crisis continue year after year without a political solution,” said UN Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos. “At the same time, we express solidarity with the people who suffer: humanitarian programmes can help millions of people with life-saving and life-sustaining aid in Syria and the region. But the crisis is outpacing the resources available for the response – the funding gap is growing.  As we encourage donors to continue to give generously to Syria, innovative projects like this can bring new perspectives and a deeper understanding of what people are going through,” she added.

“Immersing oneself in the virtual world is massively different than passively watching it on a screen. Our goal was to create a powerful tool that will change the landscape for those working in peacekeeping, emergency response and development. It is our hope that this series will also be able to change the outcome for many people in vulnerable situations,” added Gabo Arora, Senior Adviser to UN and Director, Producer and Writer of Clouds Over Sidra.

To watch Clouds Over Sidra, download the VRSE app (http://vrse.com/) and watch either with google cardboard (https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/) on any smartphone, or with the new Samsung Gear VR (http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/gearvr/).

For more information please visit:  http://blog.myworld2015.org/virtualreality/

Media Contacts:

Kristin Gutekunst - UN Millennium Campaign – kristin.gutekunst@undp
Charlotte Cans – UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – Cans@un.org

Compete in the Peoples’ Voices Challenge!

Let’s work together to keep reminding world leaders and policymakers what’s at stake!

The Global Conversation on the Post-2015 has been led by the United Nations and has gathered more than 8 million citizen voices from 194 countries. People’s from all corners of the world have participated in national, regional and global multistakeholder consultations as well as in the MY World survey.

The results from the Global Conversation have already informed Member States and United Nations discussions about the future development agenda, including the proposed Sustainable Development Goals.

As we enter the last stretch in the post-2015 process, it is important that governments and negotiators do not forget the priorities of their people.

Compete in the Peoples’ Voices Challenge! Access and use the data collected from the Global Conversation, and take action!


Building Bridges kicked off! From Amsterdam to Cape Town #BB2015UN

24 February 2015 – Building Bridges kicked off in The Netherlands! From now until August, Jilt van Schayik (UN Youth Representative for The Netherlands) and Teun Meulepas will be cycling from Amsterdam to Cape Town.

From the vast deserts of the Sahara to the central highlands of Namibia, from rural communities to crowded metropolises, and everywhere in between, Jilt & Teun want to connect with young people on the ground, share stories and inspire one another to make changes for the world we want. They will take photographs for Humans of MY World, gather MY World votes, and organize forums with young people. They will try to answer the question: “How do young people at the grassroots level envision the world in 2030?

Follow on Twitter with #BB2015UN and on Facebook: Humans of MY World & Building Bridges

Building Bridges & MY World was featured on Dutch television!

UN Chief tasks Nigeria on the post MDGs agenda

6 February 2015, Abuja, Nigeria

With on-going efforts aimed at designing a successor development framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations has tasked political and civic leaders in Nigeria on the early and effective implementation of the post MDGs framework.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, the visiting Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), Mr. Mitchell Toomey urged governments at federal and state levels to begin to lay institutional and financial frameworks for the implementation of the post MDGs agenda expected in January 2016.

According to Mr. Toomey, “The post-2015 process provides countries including Nigeria, a golden opportunity to embark on people centred development planning which will ultimately lift millions out of poverty and inequalities as well as empower women and other vulnerable populations.”

He went further to state that “Nigeria has contributed immensely in ensuring that citizens’ voices are brought to bear in the development of the next agenda. Through the support of the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the MDGs, over 1.5 million Nigerians have participated in shaping the global development agenda. This is the largest in the world, constituting 22% of the total 7 million global citizens’ participation in the UN inspired MY World survey,” he further stated.

On the new development agenda, Mr. Toomey declared that “apart from continuing on the momentum and targets of the MDGs, the post-2015 agenda has taken on board other emerging development challenges that were not part of the MDGs such as inequalities, climate change, peace and security and other new sectoral challenges in health and education amongst others.

He commended Nigeria for the progress made in implementing the MDGs and urged that more political will, inter-governmental partnerships and investments would be needed to implement the emerging agenda which is also known as the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Mr. Toomey stated that “as a leader in Africa, Nigeria needs to show best practices in terms of localization of the new goals, governance and accountable institutions, citizens’ engagement and social investments”.

For more information, please contact:

Hilary Ogbonna
United Nations Millennium Campaign
+2347060602556; hilary.ogbonna@one.un.org

MY World featured in UNDP Report: Achieving Development Results in Asia and the Pacific

26 January 2015 – UNDP has launched its Asia-Pacific Regional Report ‘Achieving Development Results in Asia and the Pacific’, highlighting a string of successful programmes implemented in 2013 and 2014, and also featuring MY World results in the region.

Responsive governments was voted among the highest priorities for a better future – along with education and healthcare – by the almost 3 million Asia-Pacific participants in the MY World Survey.

Citizens in the Asia-Pacific region constitute almost half of the 7 million people who followed the UN Secretary-General’s call for an inclusive process to define a new transformative development agenda which will be adopted by Member States in September.

See MY World Asia-Pacific findings on pages 36-37 of the report

Meet the new UN Millennium Campaign Director, Mitchell Toomey!

15 January 2015

Greetings MY World and World We Want Partners,


With the beginning of a new year, we are pleased to introduce you to Mr. Mitchell Toomey, who has taken on the post as Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign as of January 2015.

Prior to becoming Director of the Millennium Campaign, Mitchell held the position of Senior Adviser of the Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group in UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy. He has led groundbreaking work using digital media and technology to engage the public and civil society organizations around the world in collaborative crowdsourcing of development solutions focused on bringing vital services to the poorest and most vulnerable populations. Mitchell also helped design and launch UNDP’s Global Innovation Facility.

No stranger to MY World and the World We Want 2015 initiatives, Mitchell led the technical design and implementation phases of these platforms and other e-consultations to strategically engage millions of people around the world to participate in the post-2015 development framework. These initiatives and consultations, with the support from partners around the world, offer tremendous insight on priorities for the next generations of global anti-poverty goals.

Before joining UNDP, Mitchell launched two start-ups, served as Executive Producer for an interactive marketing agency, and worked as a management consultant helping traditional firms leverage digital markets and business models. He is an American national and holds a Masters of Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a BA in Philosophy.

2015 is a critical year for us to focus on the MDGs’ final push and to ensure that citizen voices are reflected in the new development framework, civil society-led citizen engagement on a local-level is more crucial than ever before. By using an innovative strategy, forging new partnerships, and strengthening existing ones, Mitchell hopes to lead the team to support government, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious and inclusive post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

The United Nations Millennium Campaign TeamHeader

A note from Corinne Woods

Dear Friends,Corinne-Woods-Profilepic_400x400

Happy New Year and thank you for your partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign whether through the MY World Survey, the World We Want 2015, the End Open Defecation Campaign or the work our Africa team has led on Financing and Equity.

This year marks a watershed in many ways. The MDG’s deadline is upon us and we have much to celebrate in terms of tangible progress to meet the goals.We also have good cause to celebrate the work of the UNMC and partners to build powerful citizen led campaigns on the MDGs from the award winning Stand Up Campaign, through the policy work on maternal mortality and of course the MY World Campaign for the new development agenda. It is a good moment to take pause and assess what has worked and with all honesty what has not so that as we move to the new agenda we can build on everything we have done before.

We know that in 2015 the stakes are high. World leaders will be working towards two outcomes that will be critical for people and planet. The first in September is the creation of the next set of global goals to follow the Millennium Development Goals and the culmination of critical climate change negotiations in Paris. The work we have done in the last few years to bring citizen voices to the UN should not be lost.

Today marks the launch of the Action/2015 campaign – a year for global action in the escalating action towards finalizing the MDGs, and in ratifying an ambitious and transformation new global development agenda. It is now that we need you to redouble your efforts to ensure that all those who have placed their dreams and visions in our hands are honored. We owe the countless volunteers who have taken bikes, trains and have walked to gather voices from the most remote location to ensure world leaders hear these voices. You have gathered the voices and I trust you will use them.

It is also with some sadness that I share news of transitions in the UN Millennium Campaign. As of December 31st both Charles Abugre our Regional Director for Africa and myself stepped down. However in this critical year UNDP have redoubled their commitment to the UN Millennium Campaign and appointed Mitchell Toomey to lead the work. As a partner in the early design of MY World he has bought a wealth of technical knowledge which I am sure will take the UN Millennium Campaign to greater heights.

It has been an honor to lead the UN Millennium Campaign over the past 4 years and as I transition to the UN Foundation to intensify their support for the work of Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser on Post-015 Development I will stay in contact with many of you.



The Future of Citizen Engagement – A New Report on Citizen Voices

16 December 2014 – Last week, the Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability launched a report of their research findings entitled The Future of Citizen Engagement: Recommendations for Implementing Effective Feedback Initiatives. This research team, commissioned by the UN Millennium Campaign, assessed a variety of citizen feedback initiatives around the world which focus on incorporating citizen voice into local and national policy and/or service delivery. Among the case studies were UNICEF’s U Report in Uganda, and the MY World local spin-off survey, MY Municipality in Macedonia. For a full documentation of the initiatives which the team encountered through their research, see this interactive map.

The research assessed which characteristics make an initiative most effective in a variety of local contexts and across a span of diverse actors. From these findings, the report details a set of nine recommendations for implementing strong and effective citizen feedback initiatives:

  1. Government buy-in and support is essential to ensure that citizen feedback is translated into change
  2. All partners must receive value from the initiative
  3. Existing civil society networks and partnerships are essential for effective outreach
  4. The timing of a citizen feedback initiative launch impacts its success
  5. An option of anonymity will allow for more candid citizen feedback
  6. Technology must be easy-to-use, accessible and functional
  7. Outreach must use many mediums of communication, including both tech and non-tech platforms
  8. Initiatives must find ways to include marginalized populations
  9. Target communities must be informed of their rights and responsibilities

This research is extremely relevant for the future of the MY World survey. Thus far, MY World has allowed over 7 million people to have their say concerning the next international development agenda.  The hope for the future is that people everywhere are equipped with comprehensive tools which allow them to have their say in local and national policy processes as well.

These recommendations will serve the UN Millennium Campaign and its partners as they decides how the MY World model can fit into a local or national context.

We the Peoples- Celebrating 7 million voices

More than 7 million people have taken the MY World survey because we want you, the world’s leaders, to know exactly what it is that WE, the people want. We ask that you take into account these votes that represent the hopes and dreams of every 1 in 1,000 people on the planet — hopes and dreams for a better life.

Vote, listen and act in 2015. Working together we can be the generation that ends poverty and preserves the planet.

We the Peoples- Celebrating 7 million voices report

Download report

A World That Counts: Mobilising The Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

Never again should it be possible to say “ we didn’t know.” No one should be invisible. This is the world we want – a world that counts.

The Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG) has just published A World That Counts: Mobilising The Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.

The report highlights two big global challenges for the current state of data:

  • The challenge of invisibility (gaps in what we know from data, and when we find out)
  • The challenge of inequality (gaps between those who with and without information, and what they need to know make their own decisions)

The IEAG report makes specific recommendations on how to address these challenges, calling for a UN-led effort to mobilise the data revolution for sustainable development:

  1. Fostering and promoting innovation to fill data gaps
  2. Mobilising resources to overcome inequalities between developed and developing countries
  3. Leadership and coordination to enable the data revolution to play its full role in the realisation of sustainable development

The IEAG consists of over 20 international experts convened by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to propose ways to improve data for achieving and monitoring sustainable development.

The recommendations of the IEAG will inform the Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General and the subsequent intergovernmental process.

Download the report