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.

In three weeks, 193 world leaders will come to UN Headquarters in New York to formally commit to the SDGs. In the lead-up to their adoption, Mr. Curtis has been collaborating with international artists and celebrities to do everything he can for the SDGs to become as well-known as possible.

This led to the creation of the Global Goals campaign, launched at the UN this week, in which he calls on everyone to spread the word on the SDGS, with the hope of reaching seven billion people in seven days.

To find out how, the UN News Centre recently spoke with Mr. Curtis.

UN News Centre: Tell us about the partnership that’s been forged between civil society and the UN to spread the word about fighting poverty, injustice and dealing with climate change – the Global Goals Campaign.

Richard Curtis: I’ve been worrying about poverty issues and trying to do something about it since the day I watched Band Aid and Live Aid, and then I’ve been doing fundraising and the more that you think about these things, the more you realize that your personal involvement, doing fundraising, trying to see if you can help one person, is hugely important. But also, trying to affect the politics is also terribly important ‘cause that’s where the biggest money, and the biggest power, is and the biggest change will happen. I remember Bob Geldof saying to me that he thinks he made more money in 20 minutes having a cup of tea with

[former French] President Mitterrand than he did in the whole of Band Aid and Live Aid put together, ‘cause Mitterrand said we’ll up the aid budget by 0.01 and that was suddenly 100 times more than they’d raised.

Making the SDGs famous. Filmmaker Richard Curtis, founder of Project Everyone, explains how the Global Goals campaign seeks to tell 7 billion people in 7 days about the UN Sustainable Development Goals that will be adopted in September. Credit: United Nations

So over the years I’ve become very interested in campaigning on these issues… the Jubilee Debt Campaign… and I did something called the Make Poverty History campaign in the UK about the G7 in Gleneagles honouring the MDGs, and I became very interested in the idea that when the MDGs ran out and the new things replaced them that we should try and make the new things as famous as possible. Because I hadn’t really known about the MDGs until about 2005, and as it were my kids still don’t. And I suddenly realized or found out that I was not the only person thinking these thoughts. Actually everyone you spoke to, who’s passionate about these issues, all the NGOs that I know, and all the politicians said this is a real opportunity in 2015 to announce the new agenda, and make that agenda as effective as we possibly can, and create an extraordinary document and try and get an extraordinary result 15 years later. The action/2015 group came together, and of course because the SDGs are complex and have to do with justice and development and climate, it’s the biggest group ever.

Our message to the leaders is that there’s an epic opportunity to achieve amazing things on a global scale
And myself and some friends and some colleagues thought what we’ll do is just try and give a year to working out ways to communicate these SDGs, to try and make people excited about them, interested in them, realize that they’re to do with all the things that they feel passionate about. We said to ourselves ‘let’s try and get 7 billion people in 7 days’ and so it’s been a question of more is more, working with all different parts of the UN, with UN DPI, with UNDP, with UNICEF, with Amina [Mohammed] and the people who are negotiating the goals for a year, and then with a huge range of people in every area – online, digital, schools, faith, TV, radio – to work out many ways to talk about the SDGs in a way that normal folk would understand and be excited by.

UN News Centre: What is Project Everyone?

Richard Curtis: Project Everyone is this idea that we would try and get the Goals to everyone. So what we’ve done is we’ve analysed how you reach people. Facebook reached its first billion the other day; we gotta try and do fun things on Facebook. Ninety-two per cent of people still listen to radio during the course of the week; we gotta do something on radio. Cinema, huge thing; we spoke to the SAWA, who are the screen advertising association, and said to them ‘can we do an ad in cinemas in as many countries as we can reach?’ So what Project Everyone is, it’s a kind of self-made little organization that has tried to go out and find every way that you get to people and then create some resources. And the thing we’re launching today is a sort of first glimpse of a pack of resources – the films, the books, the posters, the online gimmicks… we just got a “dizzy goal” in from Usain Bolt this morning on my computer. You know we’re just trying to tell everyone about all the things that we’re trying to do, and then the message is to the whole world: listen to this and then tell other people.

via UN News Centre