UN Millennium Campaign screens second Virtual Reality film about Ebola survival and recovery in Liberia

10 July 2015 – New York The United Nations Millennium Campaign screened a Virtual Reality film today at the United Nations. Waves of Grace follows a young woman’s struggle for life amid the Ebola epidemic.  Its premier is planned in conjunction with the United Nations Secretary-General’s International Ebola Recovery Conference, hosted to ensure affected countries receive the support they need to end the epidemic and continue countries on the path to recovery.

The movie is the result of collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign, VRSE.works and Vice Media, and was created to call attention to the obstacles faced by Ebola survivors.  The movie transports viewers to West Point, Liberia and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease.  The VR experience captures the Liberian tragedy from illness to recovery, mourning to perseverance.  It is part of a larger initiative of the United Nations Millennium Campaign to fight donor fatigue on the world’s most pressing challenges.


“Development achievements can be quickly reversed due to crises such as the Ebola epidemic” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign. “If the world does not focus on helping the most vulnerable and building resiliency in recovering communities, development goals and targets will not be met. Thus it is hoped that this film may aid the United Nations’ efforts to draw attention to the lasting impact of the Ebola crisis, as well as the need for continued support for those affected by the disease.”

Since the outbreak began, roughly 27,500 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (figures from July 2015). The fatality rate for those affected is just under 50%. The health epidemic has had the strongest impact on women and children, with 50.8% of deaths female, and an estimated 30,000 orphaned by the disease.

Although Liberia was declared Ebola free in May 2015 new cases continue from unknown sources as the virus is still active in the region.

“The Ebola crisis has captivated the world in its devastating effects over the last year and a half. However, the individual stories behind the numbers are often not told.  Decontee’s story captures the strife and spirit of the communities across West Africa in the wake of the Ebola epidemic. It is hoped that this second VR experience will promote greater understanding of the socio-economic impact of the disease and empathy for those who continue to overcome it.” said Gabo Arora, co-creator of the film and Senior Advisor for the UN Millennium Campaign.

Waves of Grace follows the successful launch of the virtual reality experience Clouds Over Sidra about the Syrian refugee crisis. That movie was screened at the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait, and helped raise $3.8 billion in support of the humanitarian response.  The UN hopes to build on the success of that movie and continue to close the gap between decision-makers and the issues they govern on.


Waves of Grace can be viewed either on iOS or Android Mobile Platforms with or without google cardboard (https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/) by downloading the VRSE app (http://vrse.com/); or on Samsung phones with the Samsung Gear VR (http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/gearvr/).

For more information please visit:  http://blog.myworld2015.org/virtualreality/
To sign up to receive the latest information on future projects please visit: www.vr4dev.org


Media Contact:

Kristin Gutekunst - UN Millennium Campaign – kristin.gutekunst@undp.org  +1.914.330.3774

MDG success springboard for new sustainable development agenda: Final MDGs report

6 July 2015: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history and will serve as the jumping off point for the new sustainable development agenda to be adopted this year, according to the final MDG report launched today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


Full MDG 2015 report
MDG 2015 Progress Chart
MDG 2015 Executive Summary

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 found that the 15-year effort to achieve the eight aspirational goals set out in the Millennium Declaration in 2000 was largely successful across the globe, while acknowledging shortfalls that remain. The data and analysis presented in the report show that, with targeted interventions, sound strategies, adequate resources and political will, even the poorest can make progress.

“Following profound and consistent gains, we now know that extreme poverty can be eradicated within one more generation,” said Ban Ki-moon. “The MDGs have greatly contributed to this progress, and have taught us how governments, business, and civil society can work together to achieve transformational breakthroughs.”

The MDG report confirms that goal-setting can lift millions of people out of poverty, empower women and girls, improve health and well-being, and provide vast new opportunities for better lives.

Only two short decades ago, nearly half of the developing world lived in extreme poverty. The number of people now living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.

The world has also witnessed dramatic improvement in gender equality in schooling since the MDGs, and gender parity in primary school has been achieved in the majority of countries.

More girls are now in school and women have gained ground in parliamentary representation in nearly 90 per cent of the 174 countries with data over the past 20 years. The average proportion of women in parliament has nearly doubled during the same period. The rate of children dying before their fifth birthday has declined by more than half, dropping from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births since 1990. Figures for maternal mortality show a decline of 45 per cent worldwide, with most of the reduction occurring since 2000.

Targeted investments in fighting diseases, such as HIV/AIDs and malaria, have brought unprecedented results. Over 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted between 2000 and 2015, while tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions saved an estimated 37 million lives between 2000 and 2013.

Worldwide, 2.1 billion have gained access to improved sanitation and the proportion of people practicing open defecation has fallen almost by half since 1990. Official development assistance from developed countries saw an increase of 66 per cent in real terms from 2000 and 2014, reaching $135.2 billion.

The report highlighted that significant gains have been made for many of the MDG targets worldwide, but progress has been uneven across regions and countries, leaving significant gaps. Conflicts remain the biggest threat to human development, with fragile and conflict-affected countries typically experiencing the highest poverty rates.

Gender inequality persists in spite of more representation of women in parliament and more girls going to school. Women continue to face discrimination in access to work, economic assets and participation in private and public decision-making.

Despite enormous progress driven by the MDGs, about 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger. Children from the poorest 20 per cent of households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as those from the wealthiest 20 per cent and are also four times as likely to be out of school. In countries affected by conflict, the proportion of out-of-school children increased from 30 per cent in 1999 to 36 per cent in 2012.

In the context of the environment, global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased over 50 per cent since 1990 and water scarcity now affects 40 per cent of people in the world and is projected to increase.

World leaders have called for an ambitious long-term sustainability agenda to succeed the MDGs. Building on the success and momentum of the MDGs, new global goals will break fresh ground with ambition on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, cities and human settlements, industrialization, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, peace and justice.

“The emerging post-2015 development agenda, including the set of Sustainable Development Goals, strives to build on our successes and put all countries, together, firmly on track towards a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable world,” concluded Ban Ki-moon.

The Millennium Development Goals Report, an annual assessment of global and regional progress towards the Goals, reflects the most comprehensive, up-to-date data compiled by over 28 UN and international agencies and is produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. A complete set of the data used to prepare the report is available at mdgs.un.org.  For more information, press materials and an inter-agency media contact list, see www.un.org/millenniumgoals.

Media contacts:

Francyne Harrigan, E: fharrigan@un.org / T: 1 (917)-367-5414
Sharon Birch, E: birchs@un.org / T: 1 (212)-963-0564


FFD Side Event: Multi-Stakeholders’ Positioning to Support Implementation & Monitoring on Financing for Development Post-Addis

UN Millennium Campaign side event co-sponsored by the Governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Uganda

In partnership with: The Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), Ford Foundation, Women in Parliament Forum (WIP), UNDP Regional Service Center in Addis, UN Volunteers (UNV) and Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), and Southern Voices on Post-MDGs

Monday 13th July 2015, 3.30pm – 6pm at the Intercontinental Hotel, Addis Ababa
RSVP: nardos.hagos@undp.org


The UN Millennium Campaign’s (UNMC) input into and influence on the debate on how to finance the Post-2015 development has been wide-ranging and impactful. The Campaign was part of the push to get tax dodging and illicit financial flows on the African Union’s political agenda through collaborations with the UN Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA), the Pan African Parliament and other partners across the continent.

The Campaign has conducted outreach and research in Africa and Asia on means of financing structural transformation and the post-2015, both of which have contributed to the overall financing for development and Post-2015 processes.

As we move towards the Third International Financing for Development Conference to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Campaign will continue to support stakeholders to define their roles in the implementation and monitoring of the outcomes of Addis conference within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Campaign’s financing work in Africa

The UNMC was one of the first organisations in Africa to hold deliberations on how the Post-2015 agenda will be financed on the continent.

In November 2013, the Campaign held a series of deliberations which preceded the Global Thematic Consultation on Governance held at the Pan-Africa Parliament in Midrand, South Africa. The deliberations brought together African thinkers, parliamentarians, experts, academics and civil society. Some of the key recommendations that emerged included; at the international level; implementation of Beneficial Ownership and Automatic Exchange of Information, observation of Paris Principles of Aid Effectiveness, increased transparency of international tax systems, and, exploration of innovative sources of financing. At the continental/national level the recommendations looked at; domestic resources mobilisation, addressing the structural factors that create a domestic environment that is conducive to illicit financial flows, establishing/improving existing registry of company ownership, making tax systems more accountable to the people, and managing remittances.

The outcomes also highlighted some of the challenges in improving financing for development such as; maximising the benefits of natural resource rents, matching tax potential to revenue needs and raising taxes in a progressive way, curbing illicit financial flows, and transforming foreign direct investment into tax revenues.

The conference and subsequent reports formed the basis of participation in the Financing for Development discourse for several civil society organisations and coalitions in Africa who continue to be heavily engaged today with technical support from the Campaign.

The Campaign’s financing work in Asia

As a follow up to the work done in Africa, UNMC received a grant from the Government of the Republic of Korea to support a multi-stakeholder process to generate some ideas and lessons, from the Asia-Pacific Region, to contribute to the global dialogue on the financing and implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development goals being negotiated under the auspices of the UN system. The reflections to this effect should draw, from among others, the principles outlined in the 4th High Level Forum on aid Effectiveness: “The Busan Partnership on effective Development Cooperation” and the “Busan indicators”.

The overall objective of the Asia initiative was to generate voices from civil society, academics and other stakeholders as input into the discussion on formulation of the post 2015 agenda; in particular the financing question. Specifically the initiative:

  • Gathered voices from Asia on regional issues specific to the financing agenda that will contribute to the global debate on the post 2015 development agenda
  • Generated a common set of policy asks as a basis for advocacy on financing the sustainable development developed
  • Plans to conduct advocacy at national, regional and global levels to influence the process and content of the financing discussion

Multi-stakeholder voices and position: Financing for Development side event

Aims and Outputs

As part of the Campaign’s on-going process of supporting engagement of multiple stakeholders in financing for development, the side event will;

  • Further disseminate the results and findings of our work on financing in Africa and Asia;
  • Critically explore how these compare with the outcome document, currently called “The Addis Ababa Accord”.
  • Explore the roles of different stakeholders in (i) supporting the implementation of the outcomes, (ii) contribute to monitoring the outcomes within the context of both official and unofficial process.

From this, UNMC expects the side event to have two primary outputs;

(1) Develop and collect the building blocks of a multi-stakeholder strategy to support implementation and monitoring of the Financing for Development outcomes within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. This will form the basis of the Campaign’s work and engagement with partners on financing for development going forward.

(2) A multi-stakeholder declaration on the (i) position and (ii) vision on financing the Post-2015 agenda. This will underpin and guide the strategy noted in point (1) above.

Organisation and Participation

The side event will be co-sponsored by the Governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Uganda, and led by the UN Millennium Campaign in partnerships with Ford Foundation, Women in Parliament Forum and UNDP Regional Service Center in Addis.

The Event will be attended by Delegations from member states as well as high level personnel including the SG’s Special Adviser on Post 2015 Ms Amina Mohammed, ASG Mr. Thomas Gass from UNDESA, Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy, SG’s Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development and MDG Advocates, and representatives of the Economic Commission for Africa ECA. The. Participants from civil society and private sector will include the Africa civil society coalition on partnership for Development, Center for Policy Dialogue of Bangladesh, and founding members of IMPACT 2030. Parliamentary institutions participating will include the Network of African Parliaments on the MDGs, AWEPA and the Pan African Parliament. The Africa inter-faith initiative on Post 2015 will also be in attendance.


Cartagena Data Festival: The Data Revolution

On 21 April 2015 at the Cartagena Data Festival (Colombia), the UN Millennium Campaign, along with Datashift and GNDR will be hosting a side event on The Data Revolution. The event will showcase some of the most innovative ways to engage citizens in collecting data and share the benefits and challenges of participatory approaches in this field.

Some of the featured initiatives include:

  • MY World and the World We Want 2015 have served as a space for social engagement; cooperation and partnership; transparency; and as a knowledge management platform to host open data, documentation, media, and sophisticated data visualizations that help integrate and communicate the voices of millions of people on sustainable development. The results of the data collected can be access live at www.worldwewant2015/trends
  • MY World is a survey that that asks citizens all over the world to vote for the issues that would make the most difference to their lives and that of their families. Currently over 7 million people have responded to the MY World survey from all parts of the world through offline, online and through mobile phones.
  • The World We Want 2015 is a UN and civil society domain that amplifies peoples’ voices by curating the content coming from the global conversation on post-2015 discussions. It is a unique online space that applies innovative techniques to mine and visualize data, displaying it in a user friendly format. The WWW2015 platform hosts official UN and civil society offline and online consultations for post-2015, as well as a vast array of documentation from civil society, private sector, academia and UN.
  • U Report is a free SMS-based system that allows young people to speak out regarding what is happening in communities across the country, and to work together with other community leaders for positive change. It is led by UNICEF.
  • Frontline Data  gathers data on the various threats people face to analyze and visualize it using various tools and methodologies. During 2014 and 2015 the platform has been running 3 regional pilots and is led by Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction.
  • Datashift is a multi-stakeholder, demand-driven initiative that builds the capacity and confidence of civil society organisations to generate and use citizen-generated data and leverage technology to monitor development progress, demand accountability and campaign for transformative change. An initiative of CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Civic Participation, the DataShift’s vision is a world where people-powered accountability drives progress on sustainable development.

Will you be at the Cartagena Data Festival? RSVP to our side event here

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