The United Nations and Mattel, Inc., today announced at MIPJunior in Cannes, France, details of their collaboration to incorporate a number of the Sustainable Development Goals into the storylines of the animated children’s television series Thomas & Friends™.
The new collaboration will result in the inclusion of elements from five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the upcoming Thomas & Friends™ series, which will be aired in more than 110 countries in 33 languages. Specifically, the Goals selected are: 4 on Quality Education, 5 on Gender Equality, 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production, and 15 on Life on Land.
The collaboration was formed out of a series of writers’ workshops organized by the United Nations Creative Community Outreach Initiative in January 2017, where the Thomas & Friends™ production team worked with experts from the United Nations and several of its funds, programmes and agencies to identify the Sustainable Development Goals most organic to the Thomas & Friends™ storylines and that could most readily be adapted for a preschool audience.
The new Thomas & Friends™ content will first be seen in the new movie, Thomas & Friends: Big World! Big Adventures! The Movie™, premiering in 2018, while the new television series premieres later that year. In addition to movie and episodic content, Thomas & Friends™ will be bringing the Sustainable Development Goals to life through a variety of additional content, including bespoke short-form episodes highlighting Sustainable Development Goals lessons, parent-targeted social media campaigns, children’s activity sheets, and tips for parents on the lessons kids can learn from the Sustainable Development Goals.
At the 2017 MIPJunior World Premiere TV Screening in Cannes today, Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information, shared the stage with Christopher Keenan, Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, Mattel Creations, and Kate Schlomann, Vice President and General Manager, Thomas & Friends™. They revealed details of the collaboration and discussed how they hoped the new content would inspire young audiences.
Mr. Nasser said: “We recognize the power of the creative community and entertainment industry in reaching much wider audiences through story telling. The UN Creative Community Outreach Initiative works with partners, such as Thomas & Friends™, to translate our messages into everyday language that young people and children can better understand and relate to. Once children understand these concepts, they will grow to be more responsible adults.”
Kate Schlomann added: “We see great value in the Sustainable Development Goals and chose the ones that felt most natural to the Thomas & Friends™ storyline and provided opportunity for a new type of life lesson using messaging that is easy to understand for a preschool audience. Our new show is all about discovery, curiosity and wonder of the new world Thomas is exploring so big issues are explored through Thomas’ eyes of innocence, much like those of our young audience. The content hopes to inspire the next generation of global citizens and produce meaningful conversation and learnings between children and parents.”
In addition, the new series of Thomas & Friends™ will include the launch of a new African character called Nia (pronounced “Nee-Yah”) who will take a lead role in the new series and upcoming feature film. For the development of her character, producers turned to Tolulope Lewis-Tamoka, UN-Women’s Africa Programme Adviser, who advised the production team on the portrayal of gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment.
Ms. Lewis-Tamoka said: “I was very happy to work with Thomas & Friends™ to innovatively spread the message of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular gender equality, to young people. I like how the Sustainable Development Goals are illustrated through female and male engines of different sizes, shapes, skills and abilities to represent the diversity and potential of global society. My family and kids have also been very excited as they watched Thomas & Friends™ growing up, so they helped in choosing Nia’s name and her colours.”
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders at the historic Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. Encompassing everything from health to gender equality and education, the Goals will mobilize efforts around the world to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals, please visit www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment.
For further information, contact Jeffrey Brez, United Nations Department of Public Information, at firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred) or tel. +1 917 328 6736.