Documentary Story-Telling Brings Sustainability Issues to Life


A two-day conference at United Nations Headquarters today underlined the power of storytelling and documentary film in helping sustainability issues come to life in a compelling manner.

The conference aimed to target developing a better global future through documentary story-telling in bringing to life sustainability issues.

Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 American drama film directed by Terry George.

“When we are able to find personal stories that documentaries do very, very well; and illuminate for people the conditions [of] people who are dealing directly with this issue… there’s ways that people come to this that really are effective and touch us when we hear their stories crafted through the careful eye of the documentarian.” – UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador Don Cheadle

Mr. Cheadle was one of the guest speakers at the conference entitled Envision 2012: Stories for a Sustainable Future. The conference focussed on developing a better global future through building on three key issues: just and sustainable cities; clean water; and green energy.

The conference is a partnership between the Creative Community Outreach Initiative of the UN Department of Public Information, the Independent Filmmaker Project and the Ford Foundation.

In an interview for the UN News Centre, Mr Cheadle said documentary story-telling is an effective tool in the quest to draw more attention to the subject matter.

Anchored by the UN’s anti-poverty goals known as the Millennium Development Goals and held at the Ford Foundation’s New York headquarters, the event was also aimed at helping build momentum for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, being held in Brazil in June.

The Goodwill Ambassador said the issues raised by Rio+20 affect everyone, and call everyone’s attention.

“Ultimately, this is an issue that everyone is going to have to pay attention to because, I believe, it’s going to hit home very hard for a lot of people.” -Mr. Cheadle

In April 2011, two-day documentary forum gathered filmmakers, activists, journalists, aid workers, policy-makers and United Nations staff in New York.

The forum aimed at raising public awareness about the fight against hunger worldwide.

The third annual “Envision: Addressing Global Issues Through Documentaries” forum, comprised film screenings and panel discussions centred on the themes of combating hunger and poverty, one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that world leaders have pledged to try to achieve by 2015.

Earlier this month also, the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations (UN) are jointly producing a television documentary that will project the contributions of women in regional cross-border trade.

The film seeks to document the challenges faced by women traders and entrepreneurs in the region with a view to raising awareness for advocacy to address the challenges.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.