The ambitious Great Green Wall initiative will see a nine mile-wide and 4,750 miles-long line of trees and plants grown through 12 African nations, across the Sahel region on the Southern border of the Sahara. The aim is to help prevent desertification and climate change, and in turn protect rural heritage, restore biodiversity, and improve living conditions for the local population.
The African Union project has been backed by heads of state across the continent along with world leaders, and has found support from regional and international organisations, many of whom have helped to co-finance the $2bn budget, including the World Bank, the EU and the UN.
As part of an ongoing initiative to help promote the wall, the UN has been working with brand consultancy venturethree, who recently crafted a VR experience. This was taken to the COP21 climate change event in Paris last year, which was attended by government ministers and heads of major funding bodies. It aimed to tell the inspiring story of the Great Green Wall in a tangible, compelling way and used moving image to show the progress happening on the ground, including a narrative of a young girl from a local community near to the wall, who was the same age as the wall itself.
venturethree also recently invited students from LCC to present innovative ideas using non-traditional media to help raise awareness of the wall. They briefed 120; LCC shortlisted 22; 10 of which were then chosen for a recent exhibition; and three ideas were chosen to be developed and realised. These ideas – by Sumi Khan, Christopher Ong and Beth Johnson – are shown here.
Idea: The Hourglass by Sumi Khan
“With the majority of awareness campaigns today, all you see is masses of leaflets, posters, stickers and if you’re lucky a teddy bear. But none of these really stand out, as they all follow a standard route. This is what I didn’t want to do; instead I visualised a fun and thought-provoking way to explain the Great Green Wall. The idea was to create a piece that would speak for itself. Something that constantly changes as time moves on. I wanted it to symbolise the sand, time, trees and soil;
as well as to show the versatility of trees & plants (oils, glue, perfume etc.) It led me to the idea of the hourglass. Within the hourglass, sand acts as the Sahara desert, the tree represents hope for the future of Africa and the seeping sand symbolises time.
“Instead of leaflets and posters to accompany the hourglass, I have created a ‘gift box’, including a mini hourglass that can be used as a key chain, figurine, necklace etc. As well as a 3ml vial of fragranced oil made only from plants & trees. This will hopefully engage with the viewer and prompt them to think what they can do to support the GGW initiative.”
Idea: The World’s Biggest Gardening Project by Beth Johnson
“This project aims to target a young, tech-savvy audience who are always online and connected. This demographic care about consumer culture, online video content and TV, and have the power to share brilliant ideas. Unfortunately, they’ve become wary of social/political/environmental campaigns and often assume that they are donation motivated. This campaign positions the GGW as a creative phenomenon through a subversive strategy, undercutting the cynicism some may feel with a more
conventional approach. We’re going to spread the word about a badass new television series called The World’s Biggest Gardening Project. The Great British Bake Off and similar reality TV shows regularly receive 10 million+ viewers, proving their widespread popularity. By placing content about the GGW in media attached to a show, it will be easier to include educational material in an unexpected, entertaining way.”
“The World’s Biggest Gardening Project will use a variety of social stunts and offline print materials to ensure a mass audience reaches the educational website. Once our unsuspecting audience clicks through, they will learn about the REAL gardening heroes in the Sahel. The public will discover the GGW is not simply a reality TV show, but a huge climate change initiative. Original content, such as short films of individual stories in Africa, will spread through social channels, and the website provides an opportunity for extended engagement, with videos, news, interactive maps and a shop with branded gardening products. The campaign could eventually be extended by the United Nations into a documentary on the initiative.”
Idea: Explore Your New Wonder of the World by Christopher Ong
“As the Great Green Wall is a long-term project, its completion will ultimately be seen by the next generation. Therefore, this concept is aimed at 5-8 year-olds,
appealing to the adventurers, explorers and kids with strong imaginations. By planting seeds of information in these young minds, we’ll create gatekeepers of the Great
Green Wall – making the new wonder of the world famous and memorable. ‘Explore your new wonder of the world’ is an exhibition for the younger audience, encouraging them to get involved with what’s happening now and for the future. Located in the Science Museum’s Media Space, this exhibition will be on show for an initial four-week period during school holidays, and then on a yearly- basis to exhibit further developments on the overall project.”
More information on the Great Green Wall project is available on venturethree’s website at venturethree.com/clients/un/growing-a-world-wonder, or on this Vimeo film.