U.N. madness week is upon us! I’m sorry, I meant to say that the U.N. General Assembly kicks off this week.
The world’s leaders will gather in New York to give speeches and hold diplomatic meetings. It is the Super Bowl for the international set and a special year for humanitarians. On Friday, U.N. member states will officially adopt the new set of global goals that are meant to make the world a better place for everyone. Targets from ending poverty and hunger to mitigating climate change are meant to set a course through 2030.
They replace the oft-criticized Millennium Development Goals, which come to a close at the end of this year. It is like having your team play in the Super Bowl instead of just watching the spectacle and over-hyped commercials.
And this week is really no different. Leaders will rub elbows with celebrities at swanky parties or the Clinton Global Initiative. Various groups vie for media attention about their particular program or new report or charismatic (usually white male) CEO. But the new goals make this year special. There is a big push to make the goals recognizable to everyone everywhere. And campaigners are tossing everything but the kitchen sink at people. Even a design firm was brought on to brand the 17 goals.
Originally known as the Sustainable Development Goals, the goals have a new and more straight-forward name – The Global Goals. Not only are there more goals, but they apply to every country, including the United States. With the potential to set the global agenda for the next 15 years, a lot is riding on the ability of the goals to enable action by government and corporations.
But snazzy boxes with memorable phrases is not enough to get people to care. And caring itself is not enough. Campaigners have high hopes that active citizens can ensure their countries are doing everything possible to attain the new goals. It does, though, have to start with people knowing that the goals exist and what they do in the first place.
Enter the celebrities, a favorite resource for awareness-raising activities. Just about everyone from Hollywood and the music industry is involved. Yes, even One Direction. A whole bunch of them are taking selfies with the number of their favorite goals. South African actress Charlize Theron digs goal number 3 (good health and well-being).
Starting Sunday the Social Good Summit, hosted by the U.N. Foundation and Mashable, has a long list of participants including Sienna Miller, Adrian Grenier and Theron. The night before, a major pep rally in the form of a concert in Central Park at the Global Citizen Festival. Performances by Pearl Jam, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran, provide support to mega-star Beyonce. In between acts, more celebrities and videos will inform the crowd about the Global Goals.
The basic messages are for people to get involved by telling everyone else about the goals. Whether it is a selfie or sharing a post on Facebook or making a video, the idea is to make the goals famous.
The advocacy push means business. Movie theaters will carry an advertisement for the goals featuring a talking llama, starting this weekend. Another tactic steals from the ice bucket challenge. People are urged to spin around a dozen times before trying to kick a soccer ball in the goal through the dizzy goals challenge. There is also the throwback to the LiveAid days of the ’80s with a modern twist. A music video of African artists, sung in multiple languages, pleas for everyone to tell their friends and family about the goals.
If your head is spinning trying to keep up with all of this, it may be because you took one too many turns in the dizzy goals challenge. But that ill feeling will soon pass and so will the all of the craziness in New York City. By late next week talk will turn back again to the latest celebrity scandal or presidential hopeful gaffe. Advocates hope that people around the world will keep in mind the Global Goals after the hype fades. Maybe they will succeed this time around.
Here’s to the beginning of all the craziness that will soon follow. And there is no better way to kick things off than with a song about the city hosting the big events written about a non-native and sung by Father John Misty in the style of Lou Reed. Welcome to New York!
Disclosure: Global Citizen is a sponsor of DAWNS Digest, a daily newsletter I help produce that appears as News in the Humanosphere each morning.