Sunday, 17 January 2021

UN in your language

Meanwhile in the city of a thousand Lights and a thousand Mayors

Eiffel Tower, by Jean Philippe Pariente

The Paris attacks may have succeeded in blocking the climate march, but they did nothing to quash the creative spirit of civil society actors.

The massive Climate march, planned for Sunday 29 November, was replaced by a giant shoe installation symbolizing the march. Footwear belonging to famous personalities such as Pope Francis and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were displayed on the Place de la République as part of an installation of over 11,000 shoes, put up by activists. And instead of marching, thousands gathered to form a human chain that went from Place de la République to Place de la Nation.

Over 600,000 people took to the streets in 175 countries around the world to call for an ambitious deal at the Bourget.

UNSG Shoes Copyright Avaaz

The Standing March, a colossal light projection of renowned French artist JR and Oscar-nominated American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky is another major public work of art. The video projection aims to remind leaders that the world is watching as they gather to negotiate the Paris Agreement aimed at keeping global warming below 2°C. It was projected on the Assemblée Nationale at 8pm on November 29th and 30th and at the Panthéon on December 3rd. It will travel throughout Paris until December 7th at different locations.

Meanwhile in the streets of the French capital, climate messages are on every wall. Posters, banners, ad campaigns and graffiti, all send the green message.

Less accommodating, other activists took to the streets on Friday 4 December, dressed in baby clothes and bibs asking for the negotiators to conclude “a grown up deal”.

The Paris Climate conference has mobilized an unprecedented number of leading contemporary artists who have turned Paris into an open-air museum of contemporary art.

The Eiffel Tower kicked off the events with 1 Heart, 1 Tree. The iconic metal tower has been turned into a virtual forest through a smartphone application. For each virtual tree, a real tree will be planted as part of a reforestation project across the world. On the launch of 1 Heart 1 Tree on 29 November, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seized the opportunity to incite artists and civil society to “play a decisive role”.

The Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde has also been turned into beams of light. Passers-by are invited to transmit their heartbeats directly into thePhare(Beacon) via a sensor in situ and make the monument sparkle (for more information visit

 concorde MileneGuermont 03 cr web

Magnum Foundation and #Dysturb, a group of photojournalists, pasted 25 large images of photographers from all over the world. The images show the effect of climate change. Each print is captioned with facts and figures on climate resilience. An interactive plan including the pictures location and a description of the project is available on #Dysturb website. #Dysturb in partnership with the UN pasted 70 photos on the walls of Paris to celebrate UN70.

All through the COP, the Conference of Creatives hosted by a hundred artists, architects, scientists and philosophers, started on 1 December. It is an international and public summit based on creativity and partnership aiming at finding alternative solutions to the challenges of climate change that are being debated at the COP.

One of the most talked about works of art is the controversial Ice Watch, created by the celebrated Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing. Twelve immense blocks of ice, harvested from free-floating icebergs in a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland, are arranged in clock formation on the Place du Panthéon, where they will melt away during COP21. The carbon footprint of the artwork is 30 tonnes CO2.

Filmmakers too have been very active in supporting the Climate talks.

The Mobile Film Festival in partnership with UNDPI has contributed to raise awareness of the impact of climate change through the mobilization of amateur video makers from all over the world. The concept behind the festival is “1 smartphone, 1 minute, 1 film”. This year’s theme was “Act on climate change.” More than 750 videos shot in 70 countries have been received, 76 have been selected. The public participated with over 2 million votes and over 17 millions have seen the films. The public prize was awarded at a ceremony at Grand Palais on Friday 4 December.The winner is Parametric, by Amila Kumarasinghe from Sri Lanka.

The one-minute program on French private TV channel TF1 Là où je t’emmènerai, broadcast right before the 8pm evening news, has invited numerous guests speaking on behalf of the UN. The guest chooses a place in the world where he or she would like to take the viewers. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’schoicewas the endangered Island of Kiribati. UN goodwill ambassadors Jane Goodall and Bertrand Piccard and the actor Alec Baldwin are amongst the upcoming guests.

COP has also provided the opportunity for the “pioneers” of the future with the Shamengo platform. More than 5000 architects, agronomists, engineers, journalists, artisans, artists, doctors are part of this innovative project. On 3 December in Paris Catherine Berthillier, the founder, announced the construction of the first two “villages” in Bordeaux, France and in Guiuan, Malaysia. She also stated that the city of Paris is the first one to officially join the Shamengo platform.

One of the most active actors in support of COP21 has been the Paris City Hall and Mayor Anne Hidalgo herself. On Friday 4 December, in partnership with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, a summit of the Mayors was held at Paris City Hall. The Mayors will work on a Declaration to be submitted to the negotiators at the Bourget. A number of celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Redford and Sean Penn, who are advocates for climate action and support UN’s efforts towards building a sustainable future, attended the event.

Since 4th December, the exhibition “Solutions COP21” has been open to the public at Grand Palais. Organised by Comité 21 and Club France Développement durable, this exhibition gives prominence to 500 actors: “one third of them are associations, one third bodies or institutions and one third companies”, even big ones. During the whole week the emphasis will be on climate innovations news, debates, conferences and shows.

Part of the DPI team has set up shop at Place to B.A stone's throw from Gare du Nord, from where delegates take the train to the conference site at the Bourget, a new kind of hub for climate activists and bloggers has been created in a new youth hostel. Place to B, the brainchild of the French journalist Anne-Sophie Novel, is co-working space where over 600 “residents” brainstorm, vent and network with other green activists.

Place2Be Credit Perrot Thomas

And everywhere, watching over the events is Elyx, the UN’s first honorary digital ambassador, the creation of the French artist, Yak…

DPI is supporting a number of events in some of the iconic landmarks of the French capital. These events are called “Blue Points”. Check out the interactive map for updates:

Watch this space for events taking place in Paris from Saturday 5 December to the end of COP21including Human Energy, An afternoon with Robert Redford, Earth to Paris and UNDP’s Equator Prize ceremony.


UNRICs Related Links

·         UNFCCC News on COP21

·         UNESCO Events

·         Earth to Paris

·         What will the Paris Agreement Look Like?

·        The Lazy Persons Guide to Saving the World


Photo Credits

  • Jean Philippe Pariente

  • Avaaz

  • Thomas Perrot


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