United Nations, ‘Thomas & Friends’ Launch Collaboration to Introduce Sustainable Development Goals to Pre-Schoolers

The United Nations and Mattel, Inc., launched a collaboration at New York Headquarters today to introduce the Sustainable Development Goals to pre‑school audiences through the animated children’s series Thomas & Friends.

Through the collaboration, elements from 5 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are incorporated into nine of the 26 episodes of the new season of Thomas & Friends, which premieres on Nick Jr. in the United States today, with global roll-out in the coming months.  The specific targets represented in the episodic content are Goal 4 on Quality Education; Goal 5 on Gender Equality; Goal 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities; Goal 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production; and Goal 15 on Life on Land.

The collaboration will further come to life with short-form early childhood educational videos, parent tips and interactive activities available on a new website, www.AllAboardForGlobalGoals.com, that was launched in English today, with more languages on the way.  In addition to the five Sustainable Development Goals already present in the episodes, content featuring Goal 6 on Clean Water and Sanitation is also available on the website.  The short-form content and parent‑targeted materials are intended to help pre-schoolers around the world learn more about sustainability and start meaningful conversations between parents and children at the household level.

“In our quest to popularize the Sustainable Development Goals and raise awareness about them among all ages, Thomas & Friends was a natural fit for younger audiences, as well as their parents and caretakers,” said Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division at the United Nations Department of Public Information, who has led the collaboration with Mattel on the project.  “The [Sustainable Development Goals] also proved to be the perfect tool for Thomas & Friends to teach children the importance of taking part in the global efforts to end poverty, providing girls and boys with the same opportunities, and of course doing so while protecting our planet.”

Thomas’ unique focus on empathy, collaboration and friendship is more relevant than ever and such an effective way to introduce children to the most important global values of their lifetimes — as embodied by the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Richard Dickson, President and COO of Mattel.  “I cannot imagine a more appropriate partnership than Thomas and the United Nations — the most dedicated and purpose-driven people, organizations and brands never go it alone, but recognize the value of collaboration in creating a better world.  That’s why the United Nations exists, and that’s been the core lesson of Thomas for over 70 years.”

The collaboration grew out of a series of writers’ workshops that began in January 2017 and were organized by the Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division.  Over the past 20 months, United Nations subject matter experts worked closely with the Thomas & Friends production team to develop and finetune the Sustainable Development Goals‑inspired content, with the support of several United Nations entities, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Adopted by world leaders at the historic Sustainable Development Summit held at the United Nations in September 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals encompass everything from health to gender equality and education.  They 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/sustainable-development-goals/.

Thomas the Tank Engine was created more than 70 years ago.  Today, the pre‑school train franchise is enjoyed by families in more than 160 countries and territories, and in 55 languages across multiple touchpoints and formats, including:  500+ original television shows; 12 feature-length films; apps; toys; consumer products; publishing; live attractions and more.

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