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The U.N. Wants You To Take A Selfie, Spin Around, Listen To A Llama

How do you compete with a talking gecko and a slogan like "We Have The Meats?"

That's the challenge for the media campaigners to get people to pay attention to the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a set of 17 goals to end extreme poverty, abolish inequality and improve the environment, among other things, by 2030.

The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, will be officially adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, which runs from September 25 to 27. To create pre-summit buzz, Project Everyone is asking the public to do "whatever it takes to tell everyone" about the goals.

Global Citizen, an anti-poverty advocacy organization, and action/2015, a coalition of more than 2,060 organizations, nonprofits and NGOs, are helping spread the word.

"To get to different people, time zones and parts of the world, we've got to have different methods," says Mark Woods, head of social media at Project Everyone. "And digital makes things more possible than ever."

According to Project Everyone: "The more famous these global goals are, and the more widely they are understood by everyone, the more politicians will take them seriously, finance them properly, refer to them frequently and make them work."

Here's a look at some of the "different methods." Readers, we'd love to hear what you think: Clever campaign? Too silly? Or just silly enough? And do you have any other ideas to publicize the goals?

1. Take a selfie.

Celebrities like Mindy Kaling, John Legend and Kate Winslet are sharing photos of themselves with the Global Goal they're most passionate about and are encouraging members of the public to do the same. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai shared her selfie with Global Goal #4, quality education — while Pussy Riot, who dropped an F-bomb in their tweet, shared#5, gender equality.

2. Take part in the Dizzy Goals Challenge.

Soccer stars like Gareth Bale, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer recorded videos of themselves spinning until they're dizzy, then attempting to score a goal. Anyone who'd like to give it a go is urged to capture and share the moment on video. "Suggested words" for those who fail: "I missed my goal so that world leaders don't miss theirs." And for a success: "If I can score a dizzy penalty then together we can all score the Global Goals." Two videos featuring Arsenal and Liverpool FC brought in a whopping 1 million views.

3. Watch a talking llama.

If an animated llama and the voice of Liam Neeson explained the Global Goals, would that help you understand them better? That's the hope of director Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill), advertising executive Sir John Hegarty and Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep). The llama speaks in #WeHaveAPlan, a one-minute ad about the world's plan to end extreme poverty. It'll play in cinemas around the world as part of the ads that run before a movie starts, launching on September 25.

4. Star in "We the People," a crowd-sourced video.

In an attempt to make a film with the "biggest cast ever," goal gurus are asking the public to record videos of themselves reading their favorite global goals. Celebrities like Richard Branson, Stephen Hawking, Meryl Streep and Queen Rania of Jordan have all done it. Some of these crowd-sourced video clips may be included in "We The People," a short film that will be shown on September 25 at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

5. Listen to Africa's first crowd-sourced song.

To capture the voice of Africa's youth talking about extreme poverty, which heavily affects the continent, top producers from Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria launched a verse-writing competition. There were 5,712 entries from 24 African countries. The result is the song "Tell Everybody," with lyrics drawn from some of the entries. The winning verse in English, submitted by Farhan Yusuf of Tanzania, reads: "Africa is the continent of tomorrow, An Africa free of need, poverty and sorrow, the whole world is going to take a bow, Africa, your time is now, now, now!"

6. Watch a film from One Direction.

One Direction, the megapopular boy band, called out to their "amazing fans" on social media, asking them to describe the world they'd like to live in. In under two months period, 80,000 submissions of photos and videos were received from 172 countries. Fans filmed themselves talking about the importance of eradicating poverty and hunger and cleaning up the planet. They showed off scenery from their hometowns and spoke out for "women's rights or gay rights or last slice of pizza rights."

A few hundred submissions were incorporated in "Dear World Leaders," a three-minute film introduced by the members of One Direction. The video, which launched in August, currently has more than 2.1 million views. One YouTube comment: "Am I the only one who cried at this?"

What do you think about the projects in this campaign? Would you take the dizzy goals challenge? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Malaka Gharib is the deputy editor and digital strategist on NPR's global health and development team. She covers topics such as the refugee crisis, gender equality and women's health. Her work as part of NPR's reporting teams has been recognized with two Gracie Awards: in 2019 for How To Raise A Human, a series on global parenting, and in 2015 for #15Girls, a series that profiled teen girls around the world.
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