Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Jan Lee headshot

British Filmmaker's Audacious Plan to Bring U.N. Goals to Everyone

Words by Jan Lee

The United Nations has a goal, and it's a steep one: To halve the world's extreme poverty rate by the end of this year.

Actually, it's only one of eight goals that were established for the planet at the start of the new millennium. The others are equally steep and include ensuring that every child (boys and girls) can access and complete primary education, ensure global environmental sustainability, and halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS.

And most challenging of all is their target date: the end of 2015.

While the U.N. is still a far way away from the completion of these targets, it had made considerable progress, the agency said. According to the agency, extreme poverty rates were cut in half by 2010, five years ahead of the actual goal.

"Despite this impressive goal," however, "1.2 billion are still living in extreme poverty."

So, filmmaker Richard Curtis ("Notting Hill," "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Make Poverty History") and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation want to give the program a tiny push: They want to mobilize the entire planet.

To launch this effort, called Project Everyone, they have put together an impressive list of resources from around the world -- a kind of go-to list of experts who know the culture, languages, media, and strategies for reaching populations near and far. Experts include Brazilian television celebrity Caldeirão do Huck; author Paulo Lima, known for his talent in reaching young readers in multiple countries; and media moguls like Nizan Guanes of Africa Advertising and Mandalah.

Last year, Curtis called on radio stations from around the world to help support the project by broadcasting it to every area of the planet. He calls the U.N. Millennium Development goals a "checklist for the world" and says everyone deserves the right know about them.

"Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could say to people, this is the optimistic version of the future, the first generation to live without extreme poverty and the first and last generation to live with climate change?" said Curtis after announcing his challenge to radio stations last year.

In September, the U.N. is due to set new goals for the next 15 years. Curtis and Project Everyone want to ensure the world is ready, so they are launching Action 2015: an even larger campaign to ensure all 7 billion world members are engaged and know that the outcome of these goals affect them as well.

"The hopes for Action 2015 are huge," said Sara Jacobs, spokesperson for Action 2015. "Already thousands of people are mobilizing behind the campaign around the world, and we want and need millions more speaking out for the future they want, so world leaders know they have to act, and act big in 2015."

Image of children at Ebola treatment center: United Nations

Video: Action/2015 - New Year's Eve 2015 - Rio de Janeiro from Mandalah Conscious Innovation.

Jan Lee headshotJan Lee

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

Read more stories by Jan Lee

More stories from Investment & Markets