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Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity: Climate Change at the Forefront with SAWA


Cannes Lions SAWA
In an interactive session entitled We Had an Asteroid, What’s Your Excuse? moderated by Boaz Paldi, Chief Creative Officer of United Nations Development Programme and featuring Nikolaj Coster Waldau, Actor and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, French Actress, Director, Producer Aissa Maiga and Florian Weischer, President of SAWA with a special appearance by Frankie the Dino, the panelists talked about how the community can join forces to be effective and save the planet before it’s too late.

Do you think that cinema can play a bigger role in helping solve climate change? And how SAWA, the Global Cinema Advertising Association, collaborated with the UNDP?
Florian Weischer: Definitely. The cinema audience consists mostly of millennials, generation Z, and generation X and these people are extremely concerned in climate change and could push the companies they are working with to make the change.  We felt that the medium of cinema would be good to inject something with purpose and the UN accepted this collaboration. For example, we communicate about gender equality and sustainable development in cinemas around the world and these campaigns are getting better year after year. Cinema is happy to have that because it helps us get more recognition by being more relevant.

You are one of the campaign’s biggest supporters, what inspired you to get involved?
Nikolaj Coster Waldau: I am a citizen and I have children before anything else, and one thing we can all agree on is that we need a good planet and solutions need to be found.

In your day job you use creativity to create change and films like Above Water that touch on water shortages
Aissa Maiga: Yes, Above Water is a documentary that I directed. I went back and forth to a village in Niger, a very dry region to film a community that lacks access to clean water. In a situation where a decade ago, the rainy season lasted five months and now because of climate change, it only lasts two months. You can imagine all the difficulties it brings with feeding the herd, the families, the crops, and for children who have to walk for kilometers every day to the nearest well instead of going to school.

Knowing that the least developed countries will suffer first from the climate change, how can we help with that?
Aissa Maiga: I think it’s time for citizens to put pressure on the governments and decision makers. For example, the energy sector is responsible for 73% of the green-house gas emissions and our government funds fossil fuel with our tax money. At the same time millions don’t even have access to electricity. So, these pressures can transition from fossil fuel energy to green energy for all. We have a responsibility towards counteractions.

You’ve traveled with the UNDP to places around the world, what’s your take on how we are doing on the ground?
Nikolaj Coster Waldau: It’s a global issue and we need global actions, but there is a difference between the actions each country can take. There are incredible people that are coming up with incredible solutions that don’t necessarily mean it will affect our comfort, yet we need to spotlight these changes.

By Victor N.