VR FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Young voices tackling urgent change.

Every September the world’s media focuses on New York as heads of state, experts and advisors from around the globe meet at the UN for the week of the General Assembly. This year, outside of the Assembly, guests could experience MY World 360°, a collection of 360° films highlighting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of climate action and reducing inequality.

The UN calls SDGs “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.” The MY World 360° project involved filmmakers in 24 countries and is a collaboration between the UN SDG Action Campaign, Digital Promise Global, and Facebook’s Oculus.

MY World 360° plays two roles, not only highlighting the UN SDGs but also giving a voice to the communities most often affected by the policies that impact SDGs. For instance, a Brazilian piece presents community-based tourism as an alternative to deforestation in the Amazon. North Carolina filmmakers look at the local sustainable farming community. And there’s an intimate portrait of Sham Shui Po, the most ethnically-diverse and poorest neighborhood in Hong Kong, where residents describe both the downside of living in such cramped conditions and the fierce sense of community it engenders.

The young people, who will soon be in charge, have understood the urgency of the agenda.

— Marina Ponti, Global Director, UN SDG Action Campaign

Immersed in 360°, viewers are placed into these communities, face to face with their people and stories. As Rodrigo Baggio, founder of Recode, an organization in Brazil that advocates for digital empowerment, says, “Human beings need to show other people about the necessity to impact and change the world, and these technologies have the power to do this.” By letting the interviewees tell their own stories intimately, the subjects’ voices are given power.

The benefits are there for the filmmakers as well. Through the MY World 360° process filmmakers become not only more involved in their local community but also part of an online community where they can get advice on equipment, training in software, screen early edits, and get feedback from other filmmakers. MY World 360° aims to create stories that generate change, amplifying the conversation around sustainable development.

”VR and mixed reality media offer creators an opportunity to share perspectives and inspire action to build a better world for all,” says Lisa Jobson, Project Director for the 360° Story Lab at Digital Promise Global.