Chapter 9

Messages for a better World

The lost cinema

An interesting history of international cooperation can be uncovered while exploring the Palais des Nations. Deep within the C Building, a former cinema exists, which had 156 seats and projected 9.5mm, 16mm, Super 16 and 35mm films. Though these days few know where it is, during the interwar period it played an important role for the League of Nations. As film gained popularity, the League recognized its potential as a tool for information and cultural exchange. Later, the room was used frequently by the United Nations, from 1947 to 1985, to project films on everything from the post-war reconstruction of Europe to weekly news updates. The films were a way to introduce new initiatives and disseminate information from around the world to Geneva-based staff.

Renewing the space is an important part of the Strategic Heritage Plan renovation and construction project. The room will be revitalized into a multi-use space, funded by a donation by China. It will feature interpretation booths, flexible seating that is fully accessible for wheelchairs, upgraded lighting, and modern audiovisual and broadcast equipment. Additionally, the main room will have two adjoining lounges, which will add to the flexibility of the space.

Through the years, the cinema was not just a place to watch movies: it also played an essential role in sharing information and building mutual understanding. The renovation project will ensure that these goals are passed on into the future.

© UN Photo: Adam Kane

© UN Photo: Adam Kane


01-5b-UN Photo-Josie Bauman copy

© UN Photo - Jean-Marc Ferré

Between January and April 2019, France 24 broadcast UNTV Geneva’s Stand up for Your Rights campaign to a worldwide audience. Viewers on every continent were able to tune in to watch Sharmeen Obaid, an Oscar- and Emmy-award winning Pakistani filmmaker, standing up for the equal rights of women; Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor, keeping the memory alive; and Laura Dolci, an advocate for victims of terrorism.

Highlighting global efforts to make the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a reality, the SDG Studio’s short videos were aired on France 24 in September and October on its French-language channels.

The France 24 group of four channels broadcasts 24/7 to 333 million homes around the world. It has a weekly TV viewership 55 million in 183 countries and its websites are visited by 18.2 million people a month.

The Swiss public broadcasting channel RTS also showed UN Geneva-produced videos and mini-documentaries to millions of people in 2019. The Geneva Witness mini-documentary series portrays people who have an extraordinary commitment to peace, human rights and humanitarian causes.

The episodes aired from 28 October to 1 November on RTS, where they reached an audience of more than 205,000 viewers. They were also broadcast on TV5Monde Québec and TV5Monde Europe.

Watch Geneva Witness stories on RTS about individuals’ commitments to peace, human rights and humanitarian causes. 

Watch all of the SDG Studio interviews.

Nicolás Caroli

Cyclist for sustainable development

“I had a dream of going around
the world on a bicycle… The bicycle is the transport of the future. It connects us with people, reduces inequalities, and, best of all, it doesn’t pollute! Know that together we can change the world. Remember that life is the art of meeting people, that we are born to meet others. To meet each other is to confirm that humanity is one family and that we inhabit a single country called Earth. Let’s achieve the 2030 Agenda, let’s make it happen even earlier!”

Play video


01-5a-UN Photo-Adam Kane

© UN Photo - Jean-Marc Ferré

UN Geneva is using the power of film to raise awareness of important social, political and cultural issues. Every year, a wide variety of films are screened through Ciné-ONU, followed by discussions featuring the film’s producers or actors, along with experts from the UN and other entities.

The 2019 Ciné-ONU programme included cinematic masterpieces such as Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s hauntingly beautiful drama. The film won three Academy Awards in 2018. It also secured a nomination for best actress for Yalitza Aparicio, who took part in the discussion following the film’s Ciné-ONU screening. With a queue stretching for more than seven blocks, the event easily filled the 320-seat Empire cinema.

The films shown in 2019 also included The State Against Mandela and the Others, which celebrated the 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth.

The Babushkas of Chernobyl explored the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and The Queen of Ireland gave a humorous yet serious insight into the evolution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.

Paul Rose

Explorer and environmental activist

“There is a change in our human behaviour, and industrial behaviour is changing… I am very optimistic about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, all of them.”

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01-5a-UN Photo-Adam Kane

© UN Photo - Antoine Tardy

With more than 900,000 followers, the @UNGeneva social media channels – on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – serve as a powerful platform for amplifying voices, spreading ideas and increasing awareness about important causes and events.

One of those events, the Youth Activists Summit, was inspiring for the many who took part in person at the Palais des Nations, as well as for thousands of young people around the world who followed the event on social media.

Watch a video about how @UNGeneva spread the messages of six inspiring young women at the Youth Activists Summit.


UN Geneva continues to evolve in its role as a centre for learning and knowledge, specializing in multilateralism and in the work of  the United Nations. The Next Page, a podcast, was developed to advance the conversation on multilateralism in one of the fastest-growing multimedia formats. Episodes focus on both historical and current issues, and feature conversations with experts, recordings of events and debates, and insights shared by UN Geneva staff. Launched in June, 16 episodes are already available on iTunes, Spotify and Podbean.

Listen to episodes from The Next Page.



© UN Photo - Adam Kane

Climate change is the defining issue of our time. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, convened the 2019 Climate Action Summit in September, in New York. The aim was to mobilize political and economic energy at the highest levels, in order to advance climate action to help accelerate implementation of many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In the lead-up to the Climate Action Summit, the UN and Angry Birds collaborated to support citizen action on climate change around the world.

“Every action we take counts towards protecting our planet,” said Sterling Brown, an actor in The Angry Birds Movie 2.

In Switzerland, Red, the Angry Birds character, joined by UN Geneva staff members, met with the public on the shores of Lake Geneva and at the Balexert shopping centre to spread the #ActNow message. Hundreds of people, young and old, took time to learn and share with others how they will take action to combat climate change.

Ryan, 6, and Nayla, 8, pledged to “turn off the lights when we leave a room”.

Béatrice, 13, will “try to eat less meat”.

Sophie, 10, said: “Everyone can act now; kids can also change the world.”

Even little actions can make big differences

  • Save energy
  • Eat less meat
  • Eat local produce
  • Use reusable bags and water bottles
  • “Upcycle” clothing
  • Take five-minute showers
  • Drive less
  • Recycle
  • Turn lights off
  • Unplug electronics