Mobile app raises awareness of Global Goals, connects people who want to make a difference

19 September 2016

In collaboration with partners, the United Nations has launched a mobile application to provide a global forum for industry, governments and individual citizens to collectively realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“So many people and groups around the world are already undertaking innovative projects in support of the Goals,” said Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information (DPI) Cristina Gallach at the launch.

“What is special about this app, is that it connects people and activists who want to make a difference in this world,” she added.

Collaborating with the Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSMA), which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, and non-profit global campaign Project Everyone, the UN created the Action app, which also includes associated SDG targets, explanatory videos, key data, and suggestions on how people can take action to help achieve them.

While the Goals were adopted in 2015 by UN Member States, everyone – civil society, businesses and citizens alike – is called upon to achieve them.

“That is why the SDGs in Action mobile app is so timely,” continued Ms. Gallach, saying it “will bring the Goals closer to people and help make them more understandable and relatable to everyday life.”

The Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Under-Secretary-General David Nabarro, said that the UN is pleased to be working with GSMA on a multi-year road map for cooperation and harnessing the critical role that the mobile industry can play in advancing the Goals.

“This includes a broad range of efforts in support of the SDGs – from inviting leading companies to join hands and support initiatives on women and children’s health, disaster relief, data collection and analysis, to aligning industry-wide sustainability business practices with the Goals,” he noted.

Richard Curtis, founder of Project Everyone, noted that the success of the UN Global Goals hinged on the active engagement of citizens. Having created exciting and fun films in multiple languages, including an introduction to “The Global Goals 2016,” the film writer and director created a series of original and interactive animations with the world’s most popular fictional character Mr. Bean. In the animated World’s Largest Lesson’ video, actress and activist Emma Watson shows children how they can get involved in the SDGs.

“This is the year when everyone can start to play a part towards achieving the Global Goals – and the SDGs in Action app really is the place to do it,” Mr. Curtis stressed. He explained how exciting it was to play a role in creating the first app “to give everyone, everywhere, the opportunity to share with both their friends and world leaders, what they want and how they themselves are taking an action to make it happen.”

Mats Granryd, the Director General of GSMA, underscored that the SDG agenda is far-reaching and ambitious – from ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being to achieving gender equality and making cities and settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable to helping to combat climate change and its impacts.

“Mobile networks have the power to accelerate this journey in a way that no other technology can,” he expanded. “And through the partnership with the United Nations and Project Everyone, we are able to engage industry, governments and individuals in working together to achieve the SDGs.”

The app is a dynamic, collaborative tool that puts a spotlight on how innovation is helping to achieve the SDGs. It includes the latest sustainable development news from around the world as well as case studies that illustrate the mobile industry impact in achieving the goals. Features – such as sharing, likes, scoring and a leader board – are designed to drive engagement with the app and increase global activity to achieve the SDGs.

Based on the SDGs that are of the greatest interest to them, users can tailor their experience, including signing up to receive notifications on those specific goals. They can also interact with others around the world; find nearby events to join in supporting the goals; and create ‘actions’ in their community and invite others to join.

As a lead-up to the Global Citizen Festival that evening, “The Global Goals Mobile Show – the very best of Goals Week,” presented by YouTubers Estee Lalonde and Akilah Hughes, is going out on mobiles globally at 6:00 pm EDT on Saturday, 24 September.

“I’m looking forward to seeing and reading about all these grassroots projects and achievements,” concluded Ms. Gallach.


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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

INTERVIEW: Global Goals give 'epic opportunity' to the world – Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis is known around the world as the film-maker behind international hits such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Mr. Bean, Love Actually, and Bridget Jones’s Diary, as well as for his involvement with the charity Comic Relief. However, over the past year, the British filmmaker and founder of Project Everyone has been working closely with the United Nations to help give prominence to something completely different – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 targets aimed at achieving three main objectives in the next 15 years: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change.