UN initiative steps up public engagement for more sustainable lifestyles


In light of worsening climate impacts around the world and strong public concern about the climate crisis, the United Nations is stepping up engagement of its global audiences, calling on everyone everywhere to turn the recovery from COVID-19 into an opportunity to do things right for the future. Driving the effort, the UN’s ActNow campaign now offers a gamified experience for individuals to learn, engage and take action for a more sustainable future.

The UN’s worldwide consultation on the occasion of the Organization’s 75th anniversary identified the climate crisis and the destruction of the natural environment as the most overwhelming medium- and long-term concerns for people in all regions. A new mobile app in support of ActNow helps people to directly address those concerns. It allows users to not only log and track a set of everyday actions but also see the impact they are making in terms of CO2, water and electricity saved. Impact metrics along with educational journeys, challenges, tips and quizzes provide engaging entry points for users to develop sustainable habits. The app was developed by the tech start-up AWorld (‘because there is no Planet B’).

Targeting primarily individuals in the twenty major economies (G20), which account for 78 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the ActNow campaign encourages people to take ten everyday actions for a healthier planet, such as driving less, buying local produce, eating more plant-based meals, and making clothes last longer. Since the original launch of the campaign at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2018, ActNow has seen close to 800,000 individual climate actions logged through a chat bot.

COVID-19 has not stopped the climate crisis. Carbon emissions are quickly returning to pre-COVID levels, and greenhouse gas concentrations have reached new record highs. The damage inflicted by climate change continues to mount — from worsening wildfires, floods and storms, to rising food insecurity and economic loss.

While bold action is urgently needed from governments and the private sector – the UN Secretary-General is convening a roundtable of global climate leaders tomorrow and the President of the General Assembly is hosting a UN Summit on Biodiversity on 30 September — individuals also have a significant role to play. “We want to empower people to make climate action an integral part of their daily life and be part of the solution to the climate crisis,” said Melissa Fleming, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. “The global problems we face can seem overwhelming, but there are things every one of us can do.”

“COVID-19 is a wake-up call from nature, reminding us that our lives depend on a healthy planet,” said Alessandro Armillotta, co-founder and chief executive officer of AWorld. “This is the time to change course toward a more sustainable lifestyle, and we are proud to support the United Nations in such an important mission.”