UN Virtual Reality and Global Sustainable Development Agenda


As much of the world slows down for the holidays and New Year — and as many of us spend time reflecting and with family — we found a virtual reality experience that is also appropriate for year-end considerations: UN Virtual Reality.

In addition to helping raise awareness about various global issues, it’s also a terrific demonstration of the power of VR.

Through the UN VR experience, you can visit Jordan, Liberia, Nepal, and more.

As the United Nations writes: “Continuous evidence has pointed to the fact that global development goals will not be reached unless we concentrate on building resiliency in the most vulnerable communities. In recent years, several countries which were on track to reach their targets were derailed by humanitarian situations, such as war, natural disasters, and health epidemics. People around the world are unable to reach their full potential because of lack of education, health services, sanitation, jobs etc.”

“In September 2015, countries ratified the new Global Sustainable Development Agenda, with the target of creating a better world for people and planet and leaving no one behind. This presents the opportunity for renewed energy for global action to build a more equal and peaceful world. The United Nations will play a key role in coordinating new partnerships for action with governments, the private and public sector.”

“2015 is also the year when ‘Virtual Reality’ (VR) technologies hit the consumer market. For the past year, the SDG Action Campaign (formerly known as the United Nations Millennium Campaign) has coordinated the Virtual Reality Series Project to bring the world’s most pressing challenges home to decision makers and global citizens around the world, pushing the bounds of empathy.”

“Building upon its mandate to amplify the voices of those who are often unheard, particularly the world’s most vulnerable, the project seeks to show the human story behind development challenges, allowing people with the power to make a difference have a deeper understanding of their world, and hopefully to act to make a difference.”

“In addition to showcasing the VR experience at high-level UN meetings, the SDG Action Campaign is working with partners to create advocacy platforms, awareness and fundraising campaigns. By sharing these VR experiences the SDG Action Campaign is searching for partners who similarly hope to inspire change that improves peoples’ lives and creates the world we all want.”

Newsweek visited the UN and describes “four white virtual reality headsets used to show the film Clouds Over Sidra, a seven-minute virtual reality documentary commissioned by the U.N. that immerses the viewer in the sights and sounds of Zaatari, through the eyes of Sidra, a 12-year-old girl. By donning the headset and a pair of headphones, viewers take part in the daily life of the camp, including school, an all-girls soccer lesson and family meal time.”

“The film, which has been screened at film festivals around the world, made its way into U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks at the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference in Kuwait in March, which saw international donors pledge $3.8 billion in funds to Syria. Barry Pousman, one of the directors of Clouds Over Sidra and director of programming at Discovery Digital Networks, says virtual reality films like Clouds Over Sidra could help to fight donor fatigue in the fifth year of the Syrian war when other humanitarian crises such as those in Yemen and South Sudan are stretching funding thin.”

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