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United Nations, Thomas & Friends™ Launch Collaboration to Introduce Sustainable Development Goals to Preschoolers

Press Release pr18-057-E 2018.09.10

(c)2018 Gullane (Thomas) Limited.

New Thomas & Friends Season to Explore Themes, From Gender Equality to Responsible Consumption, Inspired by Sustainable Development Goals

NEW YORK, 7 SEPTEMBER 2018—The United Nations and Mattel, Inc., today launched at UN Headquarters a collaboration to introduce the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to preschool audiences through the animated children’s series Thomas & Friends™.

Through the collaboration, elements from five of the 17 SDGs 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. Specifically, the Goals represented in the episodic content are: #4 Quality Education; #5 Gender Equality; #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities; #12 Responsible Consumption and Production, and #15 Life on Land. 

This collaboration will further come to life with short-form early childhood educational videos, parent tips and interactive activities available on a new website, AllAboardForGlobalGoals.com, that was launched today in English, with more languages on the way. In addition to the five SDGs already present in the episodes, content featuring SDG #6 Clean Water and Sanitation is also available on the website. The short-form content and parent-targeted materials are intended to help preschoolers 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. The SDGs 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,” said Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division at the United Nations Department of Public Information who has led the collaboration with Mattel on this project.

“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 UN 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 Outreach Division of the United Nations Department of Public Information. Over the past 20 months, UN subject matter experts worked closely with the Thomas & Friends production team to develop and finetune the SDG-inspired content, with the support of several UN 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 United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment). 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders at the historic Sustainable Development Summit held at the United Nations in September 2015. Encompassing everything from health to gender equality and education, the Goals 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 https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/.

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

For further information, contact Mr. Jeffrey Brez, Chief, NGO Relations Advocacy and Special Events, United Nations Department of Public Information, at brez@un.org or +1 212 963 8070 / cell +1-917-328-6736.