Interview with WWF about upcoming projects and the miserable condition of our planet

For more than five decades, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been a champion for the preservation of natural habitats. Despite WWF’s many successful campaigns and efforts, the current situation of our environment is rather bleak. According to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018, the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians has declined 60% in the last 50 years. The World Wildlife Fund is more than ever dedicated to its mission to protect and restore nature. Reason enough to ask WWF about its upcoming projects and plans to save the world.  

RsL: What WWF projects and campaigns can we expect for 2019?

WWF: Some anticipated projects that you can expect for 2019 are Earth Hour, the launch of Our Planet that is in collaboration with Netflix, and the plastics campaign.

Some information about these campaigns: Earth Hour is the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment. This year’s Earth Hour focused on raising awareness of the importance of nature. You can find some quick facts about Earth Hour here.

The plastics campaign asks people to sign a petition that asks world’s governments to take action for a UN agreement to end plastics leakage into the seas by 2030.

Our Planet, a Netflix series, is created in collaboration with Silverback Productions and WWF that features jaw-dropping nature stories, grounded in the best science, and highlights the most pressing challenges facing nature today.

The main goal we are working towards is the upcoming “Super year” 2020 where we aim to inspire the world to act to show governments and key decision-making bodies that nature matters and we have to protect it. Based on our goals, we decided 5 pillars that will support it in 2019: Brand revolution, Earth Hour, Education, Living Planet Report, and Our Planet.

RsL: What do you hope to accomplish with Our Planet?

WWF: WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018, released in November 2018, presents the stark reality of the impact humans are having on our planet. The report shows that global populations of vertebrate species have declined, on average, by 60 percent since 1970, due in large part to human activities. We now have the solutions and technology to reverse this trend, which involves a transition to a more sustainable use of the planet’s resources. But it is also clear that continued degradation of our planet is unsustainable and will be to the detriment of humanity, as well as the other species and wild places.

Our Planet shows the beauty and wonder of the natural world, but it also highlights the fragility of the planet and the negative impacts of humankind. It shows a path forward by pointing to solutions, so audiences come away understanding not just the threats that face our planet, but also what we can do to save it. The powerful message it conveys will dovetail with a unique opportunity to call on global leaders to commit to urgent action to protect the one place we call home, sending the clear message that it is no longer acceptable to continue to destroy our environment and that urgent action is needed.

RsL: Documentaries are a suitable medium to raise awareness, but movies are more popular and have a much larger audience. Has WWF ever considered producing feature (theatrical) films with stories regarding environmental issues?

WWF: We are not aware of such considerations.

RsL: In the past, WWF has released charity albums like No One’s Gonna Change Our World and Environmentally Sound: A Select Anthology of Songs Inspired by the Earth. Are any other albums planned for the near future?

WWF: We have no plans as of now.  

RsL: How important are social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook for your campaigns? Which one has proven to be the most effective and gave you the best results?

WWF: WWF has over 25 million social media followers. Social media channels are very important for WWF to reach the right audiences with our conservation campaigns. We have a robust audience journey planned for supporters who join our social media channels.

The channel that will be most effective completely depends on the campaign goals. At WWF we believe in continuous testing to see if the messages are resonating with the audience on that particular social media platform. We like to keep the experience on the social media channel rather than driving people out of the experience.

 

Thanks to Kirmaine Chen and Michael Parsons for the interview!

 

For more information click on the links below:

LINK: WWF

LINK: Plastics Petition

LINK: Earth Hour Facts

LINK: Our Planet

LINK: WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018

LINK: Silverback Films

 

 

The Human Element Official Trailer

THE HUMAN ELEMENT is a new documentary from the makers of THE COVE, RACING EXTINCTION and CHASING ICE directed by Matthew Testa and produced in association with the Earth Vision Institute. You can rent or download the film on iTunes.

The official synopsis:

„With rare compassion and heart, THE HUMAN ELEMENT follows environmental photographer James Balog on his quest to highlight Americans on the frontlines of climate change, inspiring us to re-evaluate our relationship with the natural world.“

Homepage: https://thehumanelementmovie.com/

iTunes: http://radi.al/TheHumanElement

Link: Earth Vision Institute

 

 

Teaching girls martial-arts to combat sexual violence

The Austrian aid organisation SONNE-International is offering young Indian women martial-arts courses so they can defend themselves against sexual violence.

SONNE-International was founded by Chairman Erfried Malle and the Styrian physician Dr. Susanne Prügger in 2002. Their mission is to support education and training to decrease poverty. Their strategy is „to help people to help themselves”. Target groups are children and adolescents, women and underprivileged communities in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India and Myanmar.

According to their website, their methods are:

  • Partnerships:

„We choose, conceive and implement the projects together with our local partners in a participatory manner. The partners are responsible for conducting the project on site, for writing regular reports, for administering the finances and for carrying out annual audit reports. SONNE-International provides the financial means, administers, controls and evaluates the projects and keeps contact with the funding bodies and with major as well as small donors.“

  • Gender equality: 

„We put particular emphasis on gender equality when conceiving our projects as well as with regard to their execution, administration and management.“

For more information about the organisation and its projects visit the homepage: SONNE-International

 

Any story suggestions?

Because of the overwhelming amount of philanthropic activities and efforts, it can be quite a challenge to find the right story to report about. If you have any recommendations or suggestions what I should write about (news, projects or humanitarian organisation) let me know. Or maybe some of you have an inspiring story to tell how you or somebody you know has improved the world?

Send a mail to: info [AT] readingsaves [DOT] org

 

 

Interview: Philanthropy & Entertainment

Money, or lack thereof, is a major concern in the world of philanthropy. The funding process is a challenging and exhausting experience, even soul-crushing. Securing financial support for a charity or development project can decide about life and death. Even if you successfully accomplish the task and gather enough money, another urgent cause will emerge soon after. It is a never-ending battle. The budget and good will of generous donors have a limit, though.

I pitched the idea that the philanthropic sector should adapt to the ways of the entertainment industry by producing and selling movies, video games and books. They are huge moneymakers. Money that could be used to finance development programmes.

I have asked several organisations for their opinion on this matter. Three of them were kind enough to answer my questions:

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

ReadingSaves: What is your opinion about the partnership between the entertainment industry and your organization?

Mang: Partnerships with the entertainment industry have helped to raise awareness as well as funds for UNICEF. Fame has some clear benefits in certain roles with UNICEF. Celebrities attract attention, so they are in a position to focus the world’s eyes on the needs of children, both in their own countries and by visiting field projects and emergency programs abroad. They can make direct representations to those with the power to effect change. They can use their talents and fame to fundraise and advocate for children and support UNICEF’s mission to ensure every child’s right to health, education, equality and protection.

Marecek: Cooperation with celebrities can definitely raise awareness for certain causes. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and many other organisations carry out campaigns with celebrities.

Carretero: At Greenpeace, we have a strong history of working with Key Influencers and have seen time and time again the positive impact they have had on our campaigns and projects. They have helped us to access new channels and platforms, reach new audiences, and have given us the opportunity to test and try a range of innovative projects that otherwise might not be possible.

Key Influencers also strengthen the people-powered campaigning that we do. Their support can have a significant impact on mobilization (for example, boosting petition signatures), which can have a considerable effect on our campaign outcomes. They also help to increase public awareness, typically through attracting major media attention to a campaign or action. Celebrities and influencers can also have major impacts on our fundraising, particularly through making appeals to our supporter bases or even through contributing personally. They can be wonderful incentives for our supporters to purchase tickets to our events, and can introduce us to influential networks of their own, which can help us both programmatically and financially.

Key influencers also help us to influence big decision-making bodies – whether that be world leaders, governments, CEO’s of companies, etc. They can make groups like Greenpeace more relevant, and help to validate the work that we do. They also share our stories and act as a familiar voice that helps to build trust and bring in a range of new audiences. We are incredibly grateful for the influencers we work with and the multitude of others who are supporting charities, as they are using their platform to create real change at a time when it is needed most. They have a very unique ability to really engage people in a deep and meaningful way, and we are so appreciative for what they do.

 

ReadingSaves: Do you think selling entertainment products (books, movies, video games) could help your cause?

Mang: Examples for current partnerships with the entertainment industry: Disney Partnership (Link) and Paddington Movie (Link).

Marecek: The Red Cross is open to cooperate with many industry sectors. Of course partnerships between the entertainment sector and humanitarians have the possible potential to be fruitful. The core competence of humanitarians is to deliver aid to those in need. I think that should be the contribution of the humanitarian sector – also in cooperations with the entertainment industry.

Carretero: While selling products such as video games, movies, toys, etc. can be a great business model for some groups, Greenpeace typically avoids mass production of products, as we believe that there is already enough ’stuff‘ being produced in the world today. We try to incorporate Key Influencers into our story, into our campaigns, and into the every day work we are doing to protect the planet. We have typically avoided selling items or manufacturing products to further engage with influencers or the entertainment industry, but understand that it may work for other organizations.

Christoph Topitschnig

 

Why the United Nations should create an Entertainment Empire

The United Nations needs to have its own entertainment enterprise to sustain its future operations.

The Digital Age has changed the way we produce and consume entertainment products. Everything has become faster, cheaper and more global. New digital technologies give companies and individuals the opportunity to develop, publish and distribute their creative goods to a global audience. The rise of online companies like Amazon and Netflix is a clear sign for a changing media landscape.

Which leads to the question: Why are organizations like the United Nations not seizing this opportunity to become a major player in the entertainment industry?

Movies, video games and novels should be produced and published by the UN. The net proceeds raised by the sales of these products will be used to finance the UN Development Programmes (UNDP), or programmes of other UN departments like the WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP,

Here are 5 reasons why the UN should seriously consider this proposal:

1. Entertainment is a lucrative business

The UN is frequently underfunded. Shortfalls and budget cuts for aid programmes or relief missions have become the norm. Meanwhile Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry report record earnings. The Disney Company has earned $55.1 billion in total for the fiscal year of 2017. The studio’s entertainment segment made over $8 billion, thanks to Marvel’s superhero universe and the Star Wars galaxy.

Rumours about a possible sale of MGM and Sony Entertainment persist. Even Warner Bros. Studios might be up for grabs, if the AT&T merger fails. The United Nations could buy at least one of them. Just imagine, James Bond, Superman and Batman fighting together under the banner of the UN!

But movies are not the only way to make big money in the entertainment industry. Net revenue for the video game giant Electronic Arts has been over $4 billion for the last couple of years. Author Earnings reports $1.3 billion in E-book sales for the last three quarters of 2017 (US only).

These numbers suggest a profitable market with potential for expansion. In the beginning, the UN would need some serious commitment to establish itself on the global market, but the gain and the benefits could easily outweigh the risks.

2. It’s (relatively) cheap

If movies and TV shows are considered to be too expensive to start with, then the UN should sell books. They can be produced and published budget friendly in electronic form. Selling E-Books online would cut the distribution costs dramatically. Additionally, many well-known books are in the public domain, therefore freely available with no license fee or any other copyright issues attached. The UN would be able to publish stories written by Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells and many more.

Even the development of video games has become affordable, thanks to the mobile phone and tablet market. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter are popular places to find supporters. While the UN is already using the website for its aid programmes, a different approach could turn out to be more successful in the long term.

Take for example the video game Star Citizen. Star Citizen is a space simulator that raised over $182 million; meanwhile an UN refugee campaign has reached $1.7 million. People would rather spend their money on the development of a video game than a charity project. Crowdfunding should be used for the production of entertainment commodities. The net proceeds from the sales of these products will be transferred to UN programmes.

3. Increasing awareness and social relevance

Brand recognition is not necessarily something the United Nations has a problem with. Celebrities like Emma Watson are already supporting UN campaigns and social causes. But entertainment products could help the organization to broaden its audience and reach people who normally wouldn’t bother with the UN and its mission.

4. The entertainment industry is recession-proof

Depressions or recessions take a toll on the economy. Many businesses are struggling to survive during such troubling times. There are few markets that are not only resilient to a downturn but actually gain from it. The entertainment sector is one of them.

Why?

Because the entertainment industry offers people a distraction and an escape from the cold, harsh world and all its tribulations. Hollywood knows how to sell dreams and illusions to the masses and so should the UN.

5. Achieving Financial Independence

The UN depends on the goodwill of its member states with their flaky leaders and unstable economy. An entertainment enterprise would not only decrease the UN’s vulnerability to unforeseen budget cuts but also secure funding for future peacekeeping efforts. The ultimate goal would be a self-sufficient and financially independent United Nations.

Conclusion:

The United Nations should act decisively and not miss the opportunity to establish an entertainment enterprise. Other NGOs like Greenpeace, Red Cross, WWF or PETA could follow its lead.

People are more likely to spend money on entertainment products than on charity. That certainly doesn’t speak for humanity, but instead of ignoring this fact, we should use it to our advantage. Why should Hollywood be the only one making profit by selling dreams and fantasies to people all around the world? The philanthropic industry should claim a piece of the pie. It’s time to give the money to those who would invest it for a better and more humane future.

A final word of warning: If the UN decides to enter the entertainment world, avoiding preachy content would be recommended. Building schools in Africa or providing food supplies to war torn areas are certainly important and admirable tasks, but people don’t pay money to watch that in a movie theatre. The audience wants to be entertained, not lectured.

by Christoph Topitschnig, BA

 

About the Author:

  • Studied Film & Media at the University of Vienna.
  • Created the “Austria Alliance”, a short-lived political party.
  • Founder of the “Reading saves Lives” – Initiative.
  • Author of “Endgame – The Tragedy of Kings and Pawns” (eBook, 2018).
  • Contact: topitschnig [AT] lesenrettet [DOT] com

New Year’s resolution

A new year has approached! What is your New Year’s resolution? How are you going to change your life or other people’s lives?

Are you going through a rough patch? Do you know someone that could need your help or support?

It’s time to make improvements.

The United Nations is working with governments, business and civil societies and individuals to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030.

More information about the „17 Sustainable Development Goals“ can be found at the official UN Website HERE

You can read the Sustainable Development Report 2017 (pdf) HERE

 

 

Help & Improve

It’s Christmas-Time!

A reminder for everyone who is reading this message: Try to improve the world in one way or another. No matter how small or insignificant you think your contribution is, every action can make an impact!

Do we need a New World Order?

Eclipse Climate change, energy crisis, genocides, religious wars, economic woes and widespread corruption are only few examples of a vast spectrum of threats our society has to cope with. The call for change, peace and safety has become louder with each new issue.

If we don’t solve these problems quickly, the consequences will be devastating for our society and future generations. But could a global government be the solution for all our tribulations? Or is the idea of a “Universal State” just a delusional fantasy of megalomaniacal leaders and conspiracy theorists? Are people even going to accept such a World State?

The Shape of Things to Come

The idea of a unified world government to preserve peace between nations has already been discussed throughout the ages.

Philosophers like Plato or Immanuel Kant, writers like Dante Alighieri, Thomas Hobbes and H.G. Wells imagined utopian societies, a ‘New World Order’ or even a ‘Golden Age’. While their ideas were based on humanistic principles, authors of the modern World War era like Arnold J. Toynbee and Oswald Spengler have predicted a far more pessimistic outcome.

But what is a world government? A global governance is a political system that would make and enforce laws on international level without restrictions. It would require the unification of all nations under a global ruling system or a single ruler with cultural and economical power. This alliance could be achieved either by peace or by force. But only a peaceful unification would ensure a long lasting and stable relationship between each nation and its people.

A World Divided

The European Union is not a new global player but an old one. The EU has hardly the will and certainly not the resources to regain the status of a world leader. The Brexit is just the beginning of the end for the old continent.

The Middle East, despite its wealth, is drowning in ongoing wars or too busy copying the mistakes of the West. Africa is used as “resource cradle” for other nations and with all the turmoil and civil unrest not stable enough to be a powerful global force. South America is a victim of bad economic decisions and drugs; and Russia has proven to be a strong but uncertain factor.

Some believe that China’s economic growth will turn the nation into the next leading superpower. Experts have already set a date: 2025. But natural resources have a limit and Liebig’s Law of the Minimum will ensure a rude awakening for most experts and China.

After the end of World War II, the United States has achieved not only monetary but also cultural hegemony on global scale. America has formed modern society like no other nation before. Needless to say, this kind of influence has its price. Military interventions in Afghanistan, Iran, Vietnam, Iraq and Libya are only few examples of a ruthless foreign policy. The troubled relationship with North Korea does the rest.

The Decline of America

Admired and despised at the same time, the US has many enemies and allies. It is impossible to deny America’s supreme position and its role as ruling force. Calling the United States an empire might go too far for some but imperialism is certainly the political path the government has chosen to achieve and maintain its leading position. But even an empire as mighty as the USA has an expiration date.

German historian and philosopher Oswald Spengler described in his book, “The Decline of the West”, the cyclic rise and fall of civilizations. Spengler does not speak of empires but distinguishes between cultures and civilizations.

According to him, a civilization represents the end stage of a culture. It is no longer creative and growing.

Reasons for the decline and fall of a civilization like the Roman Empire are manifold: a decadent lifestyle, aggressive foreign policy, increased taxation, unrest in colonies, overstretched military forces, loss of civic virtue among its citizens and corrupt leaders; others may blame the invasion of barbarians. Sounds familiar?

With all the economical and political problems and enemies, America’s position as global leader is about to end. The country is no longer a unifying global force; rather the opposite is the case.

After America’s downfall, a new powerful global player has to replace the United States as fast as possible; otherwise the world will be torn apart by different interests with no chance of recovery.

Kingdom Come

Let us assume, the world would be transformed into a Universal State. How could this State succeed?

People have to identify themselves as citizens of the world, a united global society striving for the common good and the improvement of the human race. But this new awareness must not be imposed on society. Only an incorruptible event can unite mankind.

A new global awareness requires a proper ruling government. As history has proven, a totalitarian system must not be imposed on a population. People would reject and rebel against it unless they freely choose such state. This New Order might not be implemented by a single nation but rather by an institution. The United Nations could be suitable for the task. Unfortunately, corruption, incompetence and the lack of real authority prevent the UN from taking advantage of its full potential.

A future global community is possible. The old world has outgrown its usefulness. The question is not if or when a New World Order will happen, but what kind of Order will rule.

 

Author: Christoph Topitschnig, BA