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

 

 

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