The United Nations on Tuesday enlisted a high-profile roster of royalty, entertainers and business leaders to promote its global goals tackling climate change, poverty and conflict that were approved last fall but have slipped from the headlines.
Their task is to boost awareness and discussion of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the 193 UN member nations approved in September to great fanfare and aim to achieve by 2030 at a cost estimated at $3 trillion a year.
Supporters have voiced concerns that along with funding and enacting the goals and keeping the processes accountable and transparent, a key task is keeping the SDGs in the public spotlight to build support and participation.
“We have to make the goals famous,” said Assistant UN Secretary-General Thomas Gass, who was heavily involved in the creation of the SDGs.
Taking on that task are Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Graça Machel, international activist and widow of former South African President Nelson Mandela, the UN said in a statement.
Also named were Argentinian footballer Leo Messi, who plays for FC Barcelona and is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador; Colombian singer and activist Shakira, and actor Forest Whitaker, a UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation.
From business are Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese e-commerce giant, and Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever PLC consumer goods company, the UN said.
Implementation of the SDGs requires dialogue between leaders and people, “between those who promised and those who will now expect those promises to be delivered,” Gass told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Geneva.
“Some of those people, they will listen to what Leo Messi has to say, and others will listen to what Crown Princess Victoria has to say .. They speak to different parts of society.”
The diverse group selected to help promote the SDGs, which address issues from poverty to gender equality, will “keep them alive and on the front burner,” he said.