New-and-improved Tinker Bell: UN’s latest Honorary Ambassador of Green

Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure

Now she's green inside and out!

I always thought Tinker Bell was a bit green — with envy, that is. Peter Pan’s faithful fairy sidekick was far too possessive of him: every time another female appeared to get close, Tink would try to chase her away. She typifies the Jealous Female.

And now, Tinker Bell is very officially green, too: The United Nations has just named the Disney animated character Tinker Bell an “Honorary Ambassador of Green” to help promote environmental awareness among children.

The announcement came just prior to a screening at UN Headquarters in New York of the world premiere of the Walt Disney animated film, “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.”

In the new movie, being released on DVD and BluRay on 27 October 2009, the feisty fairy first seen in 1953’s Peter Pan classic animation movie finally gets a makeover for her journey away from the magical land of Pixie Hollow.

The new and improved Tink looks more tomboyish: more of her body is covered in clothes, yet she still retains her curvy figure. “We wanted to make Tink as real as possible in Lost Treasure,” says director Klay Hall. “It made sense she was going to put on a jacket, leggings and boots. This is sort of a new phase for Tink, and the look brings her up to the current feeling we are trying to convey,” such as the belt she uses to carry items she needs.

Tomboyish yet curvy...“We’re delighted Tinker Bell has agreed to be our Honorary Ambassador of Green,” said Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. “This beloved animated character can help us inspire kids and their parents to nurture nature and do what they can to take care of the environment.”

The UN event was intended to promote environmental awareness in the lead-up to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, where countries will aim to ‘seal the deal’ on a new global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Protecting the environment is an underlying theme of the Tinker Bell movies, according to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), which finds that the Walt Disney Company uses its storytelling to inspire a love of nature and spirit of conservation in its audience.

In the latest film, Tinker Bell’s greatest adventure takes place in autumn, as the fairies in Pixie Hollow are busy changing the colours of the leaves, tending to pumpkin patches and helping geese fly south for the winter. When Tinker Bell accidentally puts all of Pixie Hollow in jeopardy, she must venture out on a secret quest to set things right.

Tinker Bell Director Klay Hall, Producer Sean Lurie and cast members Mae Whitman (Tinker Bell) and Raven Symoné (Iridessa) were among those attending the premiere, hosted by DPI as part of the Secretary-General’s Creative Community Outreach Initiative.

The Initiative links the UN and producers, directors, writers and new media professionals seeking a working relationship with the world body with the goal of raising awareness of critical global issues.

Well, I can think of one Big Challenge for the creative community worldwide: find some way, any way, to ‘animate’ (i.e. bring to life!) the chronically dull and dour Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, who in his own admission is often invisible!

But hey, some feats are beyond even the most creative people! So just enjoy these two online videos…

Tinker Bell and The Lost Treasure: First 6 Minutes


Next Election or Next Generation? World leaders, time to choose is NOW!

Yugratna Srivastava: Lend me your ears...

Yugratna Srivastava: Lend me your ears...

This week saw the UN’s invisible man hosting mostly indifferent leaders at a Summit on one of the world’s most pressing challenges: climate change.

Nearly 100 world leaders accepted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s invitation to participate in an historic Summit on Climate Change in New York on 22 September to mobilise political will and strengthen momentum for a fair, effective and ambitious climate deal in Copenhagen this December.

The call for action at the summit did not just come from world leaders – many of who simply can’t see beyond their next election – but also from the next generation who stand the most to lose if climate talks fail.

On their behalf, Yugratna Srivastava, a 13-year-old Indian girl, spoke forcefully at the podium, sending a wake-up call to those assembled. “We received a clean and healthy planet from our ancestors and we are gifting a damaged one to our successors. What sort of justice is this?,” she said.

She added: “The Himalayas are melting, polar bears are dying, 2 of every 5 people don’t have access to clean drinking water, earth’s temperature is increasing, we are losing the untapped information and potential of plant species, Pacific’s water level has risen,Is this what we are going to hand over to our future generations? Please……no!”

She said the three billion young people in the world need them to take action now to protect the planet for future generations.

Watch part of her speech in this TV news story:

Read full text of her speech

Read Indian TV news channel IBN’s interview with Yugratna Srivastava just after delivering her speech.

Read Ban Ki-Moon’s summary of the Summit, delivered at its end

All this news coverage reminded me of another passionate young girl who similarly addressed – and challenged – the world leaders 17 years ago at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Her name was Severn Cullis-Suzuki, and she was a young Canadian environmental activist. Then 12-year-old Severn closed a Plenary Session with a powerful speech that received a standing ovation.

Raised in Vancouver and Toronto, Severn Cullis-Suzuki is the daughter of writer Tara Elizabeth Cullis and environmental activist and TV personality David Suzuki. When she was 9, she started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in many projects before 1992, when they raised enough money to go to the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio. Their aim was to remind the decision-makers of who their actions or inactions would ultimately affect.

Listen to the memorable speech at the Earth Summit by Severn Cullis-Suzuki:

Severn was every bit as sincere, concerned and passionate about the global environment as Yugratna Srivastava was this week. Seventeen years later, notwithstanding the lofty pledges at the Earth Summit and later gatherings, the environmental crises have multiplied and worsened.

Very few of the world leaders who assembled in Rio are still in office — and that underlines part of the problem. Governments have far shorter time horizons than what many of today’s global challenges demand. I am constantly reminded of what the eminent Indian scientist Dr M S Swaminathan told me in my first interview with him in 1990 (yes, even before the Earth Summit): “In democracies, rulers think in terms of the next election. In dictatorships, about the next coup d’état. Nobody is thinking in terms of the next generation!”

It was no small feat for the UN’s Invisible Man to bring 100 heads of state or heads of government together on such a long-term issue. But it’s going to take many more meetings, bickering and hard bargaining before the leaders begin to think in terms of the next generation.

Read my June 2008 comment: Message to the UN on World Environment Day: Kick your own CO2 habit!