Creativity for Good

“Well, the fundamentals are that we believe creativity drives awareness in a far stronger way than any other approach you can use.” – Terry Savage, Chairman of the Cannes Lions

The Sustainable Development Goals have excited the creative industry – fierce rivals in marketing and communications have found common ground to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.  Because of the broad range of issues and necessary advancements touched upon by these 17 Global Goals, every brand, agency, and creative can weave purpose into their narrative and directly influence their consumers, regardless of their product or solution.  The creative industry has the ability to widen perspectives and speak to the hearts and minds of the people, positively altering consumer behavior related to each goal. Purpose-driven campaigns, creative expressions, and recognized influencers has the unlimited potential to inspire action and progress towards advancing a better world. The Sustainable Development Goals Lions have been introduced to celebrate examples of successful implementation of this potential.

In this episode, Global GoalsCast will explore the stories behind the partnerships that have resulted in some surprising changes in consumer behaviour. 

In preparation for the festival and the historic, inaugural year of the Sustainable Development Goals Lion Awards, this episode of Global GoalsCast to further examine how the SDG Lion Awards and initiatives by creative forces, such as SAWA, are increasing attention on the Global Goals. Partnerships forged for good are partnerships that create positive change and are key to advancing the SDGs, humanizing all people, and generating positive impact on a global scale. We all have a role to play in building a better world by 2030.

Featured guests

David Griner

David Griner is Adweek magazine’s Creativity and Innovation Editor. He has been covering the advertising world for more than a decade and previously spent eight years working in the creative department of an ad agency. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and is the host of Adweek’s weekly podcast, “Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad.”

Terry Savage

Terry Savage is Chairman of Cannes Lions, the world’s leading celebration of creativity in communications. Prior to his appointment in 2003 as CEO of Cannes Lions, Terry Savage, an Australian national, was Executive Chairman of the global cinema advertising company Val Morgan, in Australia. Under his leadership, Val Morgan expanded from Australia into New Zealand, USA, South America, Middle East and Asia. During this time he was also President of the International advertising trade body SAWA (Screen Advertising World Association). Terry was the Australian representative for Cannes Lions for 15 years and during this period, promoted Australian creativity at the international event.

Nicolle Fagan

Nicolle is a One Young World ambassador and a co-founder of the Palau Legacy Project, which created and launched the award-winning Palau Pledge campaign in December 2017. She specializes in marketing & communications and has a passion for creating campaigns for social good. Prior to her time in Palau, Nicolle worked in advertising at Arnold Worldwide. She currently lives in Boston with her husband and young daughter, and she works as Marketing Director for the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Health at the New England Aquarium.

Cheryl Wannell

Cheryl Wannell joined SAWA in 2003 when she relocated to London and in 2006 returned to Australia and now runs the Secretariat from the Sydney. In 2004 she became General Manager and subsequently in 2017 became CEO and is responsible for running the Global Trade body. Previously, Cheryl worked for 20 years with Val Morgan Cinema Advertising based in Australia and was at the time of relocating to London was Managing Director Worldwide. Her background is in Marketing, Sales and Business Management. In 2015, SAWA and the global cinema advertising companies launched the first ever Global Cinema ad and as a medium became a supporter to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals to the core global cinema audiences of millennials and Generation Z. Cheryl drives this initiative as part of her role at SAWA.

Amina Mohammed

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria is the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.  Previously, she was Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from November 2015 to December 2016, where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action, protecting the natural environment and conserving resources for sustainable development. Prior to this, she served as Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning, where she was instrumental in bringing about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals. 


[00:00:00] Terry Savage Well, the fundamentals are that we believe creativity drives awareness in a far stronger way than any other approach you can use.

[00:00:10] Misc One day a giant came to visit our home…

[00:00:14] Nicolle why can’t we take the same practices that caused behavior change from a business perspective and apply that to environmental activism or an environmental campaign…

[00:00:24] Announcer The United Nations has launched a plan to fight poverty, injustice, and climate change…

[00:00:36] EGL Welcome to the Global GoalsCast

[00:00:39] CRE The Podcast that explores if we can change the world  

[00:00:42] EGL   We want to inspire you to join us. I’m Edie Lush

[00:00:46] CRE … and I’m Claudia Romo Edelman

[00:00:50] Credit Thank to HARMAN, the official sound of Global GoalsCast

[00:00:57] EGL this episode is about creativity for good– why it’s so important that the skillsets of the creative industry and honed to solve the most challenges issues of our time, and why it matters so much to win the hearts and minds of people in order to make a difference.

[00:01:12] CRE We want to shine the light on major campaigns happening around the Sustainable Development Goals.  We want to show that there is a market for good stories as more consumers are buying with their beliefs. We want to make the case for more brands and marketers to get involved in making a difference.  So this episode, we will cover a number of very interesting cases. I will be telling you about how we’re launching a major new awards initiative at Cannes called ‘The SDG Lion Awards’.

[00:01:43] EGL: And we’ll be talking about how the seeds of some really exciting projects were actually sewn in Cannes, among them “Common Ground” – an unprecedented commitment by the marketing and communications industry to put aside their usual fierce rivalry in order to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

[00:02:00] CRE: We will take an example of how the creative industry, combined with some enterprising people from the archipelago of Palau, have worked together to create a groundbreaking pledge that everyone visiting the country now has to sign.

[00:02:16] EGL: It’s a promise that all tourists have to make, right?

[00:02:19] CRE: A promise to be good environmental stewards for the duration of your stay. We will hear more about that later.

[00:02:27] EGL: Also today on the Global GoalsCast, we have an creative industry insider, David Griner, he joins us from New York. He’s the Creative and Innovation Editor of Adweek. He’s a busy guy and part of his role is to overseeing Adweek’s very popular  podcast “Yeah that’s probably an ad.”

[00:02:45] DG: Very happy to be here!

[00:02:46]  CRE : I like the title of your podcast – “Yeah, that’s probably an ad”  it implies for me that advertisers are getting smarter about how they put their messages across ….  David, in this podcast we always give away interesting pieces of data to show off with your mother in law and some ACTIONS that you can take.

[00:03:03] DG: Yeah, I love that, bringing practicality to some of this is really important cause this is, these are big goals, as I’m sure you talk about on each episode and it’s really important to show people how these things come to life in the real world.

[00:03:16] EGL So we’re going to come back to you in just a minute, David, cause I know that you are also going to be in Cannes.  But first of all, Claudia, the Cannes Lions advertising festival, you’ve been a regular delegate there, tell me a bit about it.

[00:03:29] CRE: The advertisement festival has been going on forever, 50 years, but over the last 5-7 years I think change improved dramatically, and the industry itself, I mean it’s reflecting what the industry itself has changed about.  So, when I started going, it was a little bit like the series ‘Mad Men’ where I could see all the agency people and getting the creatives from there, and then all of the sudden, BAM, you have creative created by countries, like Mexico, or by technology companies, like Facebook and Instagram, they are competing for the same pot. So, it shows that creativity somehow belongs to everybody, particularly because technology has allowed us to have access to new tools that make more people creative.  But there is one thing that is clear to me, if you are a creative, the Cannes Lion is the Oscar prize that you want to win in your lifetime.

[00:04:26] EGL:   So why is it called Cannes Lion?

[00:04:49] CRE:  Well, the first festival took place in Venice and the awards took their name from the lion of the piazza de San Marco. It then alternated between Venice and Cannes until 1984 when it finally settled in Cannes.  

[00:04:43] EGL: It’s now huge, right?

[00:04:45] CRE: It is.  It’s five days of discussions, arguments, laughter, tears with some of the most creative people around. But mostly, it’s about the competition between the best creative pieces in the world.  This year, there will be over 1600 delegates from industry superstars to musicians, actresses, formerly the Smiths, CEO of Youtube, etc

[00:05:12] EGL: And this is an important year for you as well, Claudia, right?

[00:05:16] CRE This is the most important Cannes Lion Awards that I probably will witness ever. This is the time in which the SDG Lion Awards will be launched and created for the first time.

[00:05:27] EGL:  Claudia, remind our listeners what’s behind the Sustainable Development Goals and why we have them.

[00:05:32] CRE: The Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, as we call them, are the masterplan for the people and its planet It is 17 goals ratified by more than 193 countries after 5 years of negotiation.  There is no plan B but there is no planet B either! And this is the time to act. We are the first generation that can eradicate extreme poverty for the world. We are the last generation that can stop the impact of climate change. And this is the first time in history that we can elevate the playing field for all.  But in order to make the Sustainable Development Goals happen, everybody needs to play a role and get involved. And that is why creativity and communication is so critical to penetrate the zeitgeist of the people.

So here is Terry Savage, or Savage, who is the Chairman of the Cannes Lions telling me about the important role that creativity plays in spreading the word about the goals.

[00:06:38] TS:  The fundamentals are that we believe creativity drives awareness in a far stronger way than any other approach you can use. In terms of the Sustainable Development Goals, what we have done, we have created a category that will award—by goal—a lion, and in that way we’ll enable people to focus very specifically on entering the awards, this particular category, by specific goals. So we’ll have a climate change lion. Will have a hunger lion. And that will give a lot of focus to people to create work that is very creative, to create a greater awareness level.

[00:07:23] EGL Terry Savage from the Cannes Lions there. Claudia, You were part of the the driving force that created these awards. Why did you think they were so important to create?

[00:07:31] CRE There are so many reasons, Edie. First of all, because we do have this historic master plan and It is a great framework.  And it’s a great framework for governments and for you know like industry, but you know also for the advertisement industry or a festival like Cannes.  So when I was part of the announcement of Common Ground, I went to talk to the organizers and I said, Listen, this is a great framework, we should use it to organize your creative industries that are related to purpose, social causes, and I think that by doing that, you not only are oging to have some framework and some structure  to put education to compete with education entries and the girls to girls, as opposed to girls compared to toothpaste or so on. But at the same time, it is an incredible incentive for the industry to have an award that ideally incentivizes them to create more of those type of entries.

The data is very clear The 2017 Edelman Brand Study shows that 60% of Millennials buy with their beliefs.  This isn’t just in the US where 47% of consumers are belief driven, its actually higher in China (73%) and India (65%) consumers. Consumers want brands to speak up and have a position

[00:08:31] EGL So, David, you  have been watching this industry for awhile, how do you think the SDG Awards fit into the wider advertising industry and what impact do you think they are going to have?

[00:08:40] DAVID: Well, as Claudia said, these are the Oscars of advertising.  To win one of these is basically the highest honor you can hope to get if you’re in advertising.  And so, when they add a new award, and Cannes certainly has added different Lions over the years, you know Creative Data and you know these ones, but those aren’t quite as exciting as when they create one like the Titanium Lions that recognize emerging types of marketing that doesn’t quite fit into any category.  And then most notably, the Glass Lion, which are specifically for campaigns and ideas that help empower women. And those Glass Lions really elevated the discussion of gender balance and equality and empowerment. The impact was very noticeable and very immediate. And now you’ve seen campaigns like fearless girl go on to win Glass Lions and become these big international discussion points.  Creating this award, it’s not something Cannes does lightly and it will bring a lot of spotlight to some really great initiatives.

[00:09:36] EGL So in case people haven’t heard of the fearless girl, it is a statue, right? Of a girl in her power pose.

[00:09:43] DAVID: Yeah, she was placed on international Women’s Day about a year ago facing down the charging bull, the famous charging bull of Wall Street.

[00:09:50] EGL Just so I can be clear, cause I’m not the expert here, are you guys both arguing that this could make the industry, and by industry we mean technology companies, we mean countries, we mean advertising agencies, creative companies in general, get more involved into purpose-driven campaigns?

[00:10:07] DG I believe it can.  I think anything you do that  basically says there is value in doing marketing for good, because there are, to be honest very limited opportunities for advertisers to be awarded for that. There is a lot of debate  within the ad industry about how many pro bono, how many nonprofit, how many causes you should be embracing because we are here to help clients, we are here to make money. And you know, Cannes has traditionally only given one grand prie, it’s their biggest award, the biggest thing you can win at Cannes is the Grand Prix, and they give it out quite a few of them, but thye only give out one to work for nonprofits or for causes.  And so that has been a real limitation in my mind. But the whole point of that is that they want to say ‘Oh, cause marketing is easy, anybody can do cause marketing that powerful. Doing work for a carpet company or a toothpaste, that’s hard!’ And I disagree with that fundamentally and I think that this is a good turn of events to create more opportunities to show that initiatives that accomplish this kind of greater good, that they should be celebrated and that they can be celebrated at festivals like Cannes.


[00:11:13] EGL OK so now we’re going to turn to a story, born at Cannes, and it’s led to the normally fiercely competitive advertising agencies working together for the common good. Claudia, tell me about Common Ground.

[00:11:25] CRE I love Common Ground and it was really, for me, one of the key things that I saw happening as a result of the Sustainable Development Goals being born, which was that the 6 advertisement agencies that normally compete fiercely, as you just said, decided to start a dialogue and let’s put down our differences and for once create a campaign of the campaigns.  Let’s create Common Ground and use the power that we have to advance the one goal that we have. And Common Ground was created and incentivized, by the industry, supported by the United Nations. I happened to be part of the Secretary-General’s office at that time. And I cannot tell you how important, how emotional I was when I was sitting in the audience of the Cannes Advertisement Festival in 2016, seeing the heads of the 6 advertisement agencies together with the Secretary-General where he said ‘ this ring that you see, this ring that has 17 colors that represent this is the logo of the Sustainable Development Goals, make it big, make it like a ring for the Olympics.  Make it symbolize, if the Olympic ring symbolized the best of sport, make this ring of the SDGs symbolize the best of humanity.’ I still get chills.

This podcast is produced by the We Are All Human Foundation, an organization that aims to advance equity, inclusion, and representation in a world where divisive language is getting traction, where we are forgetting that we belong to the same human family, and where the sustainable development goals can never be achieved if we don’t recognize that we are simply one.  That we are all human. Creativity matters in this sense because it is the one tool that is able to open the doors and open the hearts and the minds of the people regardless of where they are. We’re aiming to see a creative industry that is more inclusive, that brings more people that have not been able to have the chance to show their creativity to the world, of making the world a better place through communication. I am sure that festivals like the Cannes Advertisement Festival, will have increasing numbers and efforts to bring Hispanics, African-Americans, Africans, people from different regions around the world, to show what they can do the ideas that they have, be represented in festivals for creativity, particularly if it’s under the Sustainable Development Goals Lion Awards incentives.

[00:14:25] EGL You’re listening to the Global GoalsCast. Thank you for being with us. If you’ve joined us before you’ll know that in the first of our green miniseries we heard how remote islands are some of the first to be affected by climate change, caused by industrialisation on the other side of the world. But on the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau the problem is even more urgent. Palau is my idea of paradise, a beautiful island set in turquoise sea. But the sea level around its 700 islands has risen by about 9mm a year since 1993, almost three times the global average rate.

[00:15:03] CRE: But Palau has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to conservation. In 2015, they created the world’s sixth largest marine sanctuary. And last year, they came up with an amazing idea. Picture the scene; you are about to land in Palau and an in-flight movie comes on…….

[00:15:27] CLIP One day, a giant came to visit our home.  He stomped on our reefs, gobbled up our precious animals, took fruit from our gardens, even stuffed his pockets with turtle shells…

[00:15:50] Nicolle: The Palau pledge is a pledge that every visitor to Palau must take when they enter the country when they prior to leaving their country

[00:15:56] CLIP The children of Palau, I take this pledge as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home.  I vow to tread lightly, act kindly, and explore mindfully.

[00:16:11] Nicolle: When they’re actually in the air, they’ll watch an in-flight video which briefs them about the Palau Pledge and then when they get to Palau they will sign the  pledge as part of official immigration process for their entry into the country. And the Palau Pledge is a promise that they’re going to make to the children of Palau that they’ll do the right thing for the country for the sake of the children’s future.

[00:16:34] EGL Nicole Fagan there, part of the team that came up with the Palau Pledge campaign, and a One Young World Ambassador, one of our partners.  I love that idea, and this more than just a clever promotional gimmick. It’s officially part of Palau’s immigration process, having the pledge itself stamped in your passport.

[00:16:53] CLIP I think it’s important we sign the Palau Pledge to preserve the environment and show our commitment so everyone knows about the fragility of the nature here / I hope my children can see the beautiful place one day as I see today / At first I was surprised to have to do it. It’s not something I’ve ever had to do in any other country before but it really does make you think about what actions you can do to help protect the environment. And I think it’s a great idea for other countries to follow / Especially in places like Palau where their livelihood their culture, pretty much the economy of the island depends on it.  I personally feel that President Remengesau was doing a great thing by inventing this pledge.

[00:17:39] CLIP: Thomas Remengesau Jr The ocean is like a sick person. So we do have to partner in the challenge to not only restore the damages but really to prevent the environment from being further destroyed or damaged. And to do this we have to do a partnership with a tourist and visitors to Palau.

[00:17:58] EGL Some of Palau’s visitors and Palau’s president Thomas Remengesau  talking about the pledge. Nicolle Fagan told me how living sustainably isn’t a new thing for Palauans.

[00:18:08] Nicolle They’re very aware of the issues facing their environment because they’re so dependent on it. As a tiny island nation, they rely on their natural resources so much from the fish to the land to everything in between. And they’re so acutely affected by climate change that they’ve really had to be sustainably minded,  from when you know we weren’t thinking about sustainability Palauans have been living sustainably.

[00:18:34] CRE But whilst Palauans themselves know the importance of taking care of their environment, tourists, which are so vital to the area’s economy, aren’t always so knowledgeable and can disrespect and harm the delicate natural and living ecosystem through ignorance. Nicolle here again…..

[00:18:53] Nicole And we’ve really looked at the core problem being a lack of education among our incoming tourists and if we could figure out how we could educate them then perhaps we could have an influence on how they behaved while they were here in  Palau. We put together a brief and we started reaching out to our friends and we said we need help with this problem and we know that creatively we can solve it. And one of the friends that came back to us was the agency Havas Australia. The passport stamp was in early you know right away that was an early idea that we were excited about we were excited because they kind of nailed an opportunity that we hadn’t thought of as as our core group so we thought that this was just a really great partnership. We really believe in the power of an amazing idea. And while we know that of course the four of us could come up with great ideas, an agency like Havas that’s their bread and butter. That’s what they do. They come up with groundbreaking ideas. So you know while they might be traditionally used to sell more Jack Daniels why can’t we look at you know influencing behavior to prevent people from throwing their trash on the ground or stepping on coral. So we brought them in because we knew that they could bring to life these amazing ideas. And it’s a new approach for a country for Palao and people would be open to it because it’s kind of a new way of thinking about it.

[00:20:12] DG So I think what’s a great example about the Palau Pledge is that advertising effectiveness is often measured by, what they call, impressions, which is everytime one of us sees an ad, that’s called an impression. I’ve actually seen it.  You could make the best idea in the world but if no one sees it, people are going to say ‘Aw well that just wasn’t really effective’. What’s different about this example is that everyone who needs to see it, sees it. You’re going to see it, you’re going to see the in-flight video that we heard, you’re going to see it on your flight in, you’re going to literally have the pledge stamped onto your passport into your visas and you’re going to have the sign it.  And so that is the easiest ad campaign I’ve ever heard of to measure because everyone that comes in is going to see it. If more campaigns can think of ways to innovate where it’s not about how many ad dollars you put into promoting this thing in ads around the world, it’s about making it where it is integrated into what you do, and Palau has done a fantastic job of that. I think agencies are really going to take that lesson to heart.

[00:21:05] EGL and I love that kids play such an important role in this story.

[00:21:09] NicoleWe got the kids involved to help write the pledge. We’ve had kids involved at every step of the way. And as a Phase 2 of the project over the course of the next two years, we’re actually going to be taking the Palau Pledge and bringing it into the Palau curriculum in some way. We want to make sure that the plow pledge isn’t just something that is a campaign targeting tourists but it’s something that becomes ingrained in Palauian culture moving forward.

[00:21:36] CGE This is a perfect example of the importance  of enabling children, young people and the larger community to participate and have a direct voice in the development, implementation and evaluation of policies, and laws that affect communities. Young people are the foundation for effective development, and if we engage them, they will improve many of the structural development challenges that we’re facing today.

[00:22:02] EGL So this is a brilliant campaign that by the way, our partner One Young World alerted us to, connects so well with the theme of our show. You have people in Palau, who have worked for generations to look after their island, but with a real need for new creative ideas that go beyond what they’ve already done.


[00:22:23] Now, from the small screen of an in-flight movie to the wide-screen of the movie theatr. SAWA may not be a name you are familiar with, but if you’ve been to the cinema there is a good chance you’ve seen their work.

[00:22:34] CRE Yes, SAWA, the Global Cinema Advertising Association, actually set up the Cannes Lion Festival over 60 years ago. Their main job is helping advertisers and agencies get their campaigns on to huge cinema screens. Now they are helping to make the Sustainable Development Goals famous by creating big budget cinema ads and get them everywhere.  One of the most memorable call to actions on behalf of the UN and the goals was created by SAWA. Here’s SAWA’s Cheryl Wannell

[00:23:11]Cheryl Well SAWA brought John Hegarty to the table, and Richard Curtis, famous film director as I’ve said, worked together on the on the creative idea with Aardman Studios who are Wallace and Gromit fame, and they made this ad. We ran it in thirty five countries around the world. We reached 100 million people. But, in a retentive way, in an intrusive way. Not a passive way. And we then got Nielsen (the big research company out of New York) to do a case study, and we got incredible recall that, when we actually saw the results we actually didn’t believe it. We got one in three people recalled the ad “We Have A Plan” with all these animals set in the General Assembly in the United Nations, and one in three people recalled it after seeing it once, one week later on cinema. It’s almost unheard of recall which is amazing.

[00:24:10]CLIP We have a plan, the Global Goals for people and planet. To end poverty, to fight inequalities, and to defeat climate change. And I am proud to announce, the plan is agreed by everyone. The United Nations has launched a plan to fight poverty, injustice, and climate change.  Tell everyone. Join us at

[00:24:50]CRE Overall for me, the big question is what would it take to see more creativity for good, to see more of those goals stamped into the creative briefs of every agency and everyone working in creativity? What would it take to have that incredible ring, the symbol of the best of humanity that is represented on the Global Goals seen on the back the cereal boxes and everywhere around the world? What would it take? How do we make the case for creativity for good?

[00:25:23]David I think the answer to your questions is the clients.  That when agencies, they dedicate as much time as they can into efforts for nonprofits that maybe can’t pay that much or maybe can’t pay them anything, they give as much of their time as they honestly can to those projects and these awards, like at Cannes, give them a lot of publicity to help, but it doesn’t really pay the bills.  You know this kind of work often is something they are doing out of passion. I think things will change when the clients, the brands, the global brands especially, really can buy into these and not just say, of course they are all going to say that they agree with the goals, but when they really get earnestly true about it, when you see those executives coming to Cannes and saying ‘I’m going to make a commitment, this amount of my budget is going to go towards supporting these goals.’  That’s when the agencies will breathe a sigh of relief and say ‘great! We will do even more and spend more of our time and we’ll put our best talent on it.’

[00:26:15] CRE But clients will move with consumers, isn’t it? So it’s all about where you start the cycle because if consumers buy products that have a good heart and a good brand, even if they sometimes are more expensive, if they are green, if they are environmental or whatever, organic, where do you start?

[00:26:33]David We’ve seen time after time that there is data showing that there are consumers, especially millennial consumers and moving into Gen Z, that they really do appreciate when brands share their values and sometimes that gets political but often times it’s just showing that they have a commitment, and an earnest commitment, again not just a PR line of ‘yes, we love the planet and we want to help the planet’ but you’re actually doing something, you’re actually making a commitment.  Those brands have proven to be more effective with their consumers and i think they are trying to find more agency partners who can help them grow even bigger in that space and do more good in the world.

[00:27:06] EGL So do you see a tipping point, cause we know that things change once the ship starts to turn, there’s sort of nothing that will stop it.  Do you see things changing?

[00:27:18]David I think every year that I go to Cannes, and Claudia’s probably seen the same thing, is these initiatives, this kind of work, becomes a little less fringe and a little more on the main stage.  I think the examples, she’s given of bringing together all the holding companies that own the vast majority of advertising agencies in the world and having them on one stage saying ‘We share a belief in this cause that cause’ those make a difference. I think over the years, we’ve really seen that these companies that are driven by profit and really are focused on the bottom line, that they are starting to spend more time thinking about the greater good.  These tipping points they don’t happen in one year, it’s not like everyone says, you know overnight everyone just gets it but we see that these causes that when on the main stage at Cannes they say ‘Oh, this is what my clients want, this is what the people want, this is what my industry is doing, I’m going to do more of it, you know I’m going to be a leader in this space’ and i think we’re seeing more of that in the last few years.

[00:28:16] CRE And I would like to conclude from this, that yes, we’re making progress, yes we’re in the right path, yes we celebrate the SDG Lion Awards and SAWA and Common Ground for trying, yes we celebrate the UN Agencies and everyone that is working on this field to try to open up and partner more and we want to celebrate brands and companies to look even more for their consumers that are growing into buying with their beliefs.  Because if we continue working in this direction, we will make the change.

[00:28:49] EGL So we’re now at the point in the show where we give you some actions that you can go and take.  Claudia, what’s the first one?

[00:28:56] CRE Action #1: Palau Pledge – go and sign it at   Anyone can sign to show their support.

[00:29:05] EGL Leonardo DiCaprio signed it, and in fact, I signed it the other day. So David, do you have an action that our listeners can take or a message to the industry?

[00:29:13]David I have a little of both. I would say if you’re just not in the advertising industry but you want to help encourage brands, to Claudia’s point, they listen to consumers. So if you haven’t taken the time to thank a brand, a company, that you think is doing something commendable, take the time on social media, especially just to send them a note saying ‘I really appreciate this’ because, believe it or not, you’d think they just get so many messages that they don’t see it but they see those and those messages do get back to the people that matter.  I would say within the industry, I would encourage folks at the agency level to be proactive. Clients love it when agencies are proactive and bringing more information, new information to them, to help shaped their marketing efforts. I would say take the time to go over and introduce them to the Global Goals and make sure that they understand why this is important to your agency and why you think it’s important to brands and why you think it’s part of a larger movement within the industry. I think that kind of one presentation could end up yielding a lot of benefits over the long term.

[00:30:10]CRE My third action for today is for the creative industry.  Alright creative industry, badge your creative briefs. Stamp them with the logo of the SDGs.  Add into it, if the client is not asking you to do anything related to the SDGs, try to find a way to badge your creative brief with the SDG lens.

[00:30:35]Edie We’ve got an extra action in this episode that comes from a collaboration between Common Ground, we talked about them earlier in the episode, and Google, inspired by the idea that exponential change can be made possible through repeating little actions by the largest generation on earth, Gen Z. The project invites participants to share their stories, actions, and changes on YouTube.  Here’s Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammad, talking about Little X Little.

[00:31:02]AM Young people are part of the largest generation in history, 2 billion strong.  Your passionate, connected, informed, and you care deeply about our world. Right now, our world needs action, for gender equality, for the environment, for decent job, secure communities, and so much more.  We have a blueprint for a better world, the Sustainable Development Goals. Around the globe, young people are coming together to build a movement for success, they call it LIttle X Little. It’s based on a power notion. Yes, we face a number of big problems, but we can start fixing them through a lot of small actions. So listen up.  You are one of 2 billion young people. If each one of you takes action, you will create a wave of change that this world has never ever seen. Join the mission. Be part of 2 billion acts for good. Because step by step, little by little, we will get to a better world. Together, let’s get the job done.

[00:32:05]Edie Amina Mohammed there talking about the COmmon Ground Google Campaign, Little x Little.  Search for it on YouTube.

So now, we’re going to give you some data to take away that you can look really smart with your mother-in-law at Sunday lunch, 2017 Edelman Brand Study shows that 60% of Millennials worldwide say that they buy with their beliefs. They will buy your brand, buy more of it, switch from it, avoid it and at the extreme, boycott it over your stance on a controversial or social issue. This is now the new normal. This is why right after the incident in Philadelphia, where two African Americans were arrested in Starbucks for asking to use the bathroom, reacted so swiftly with a day of unconscious bias education.

[00:32:53] CRE This isn’t just in the US where 47% of consumers are belief driven, its actually higher in China (73%) and India (65%) consumers.

The good news is that a lot of companies see this as an opportunity because they realize that consumers will use their brand as a statement of what that they personally care about.

Before we go, thank you, David, where can we listen to your podcast?

[00:33:20] David We our podcast for Ad Week is call ‘Yeah, that’s probably an ad’ it comes out every week, usually on Mondays, and you can find it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, or Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts, same as you guys!

[00:33:32] EGL Thank you so much, David, for joining us. 

[00:33:35] CRE That was Edie Lush, and I am Claudia Romo Edelman. See you next time!

The National

Co-hosts Mustafa Alrawi and Edie Lush of Global GoalsCast discuss the Sustainable Development Goals which are large-scale, ambitious and inspiring. They are also changing the way we seek out investment opportunities as we move to meet this defined future with over $12 trillion up for grabs for the private sector according to the UNDP.

The podcast was produced as part of The National’s Future Forum initiative which over the next year will examine how advancements in technology and societal developments will impact our future, and also coincides with The National’s tenth anniversary.


Weekly, from The National’s newsroom in Abu Dhabi, the Business Extra podcast provides insight and additional analysis on the biggest business, economic and finance stories affecting us here as well as the wider region and the world. Find us on Apple Podcasts as well as our website Follow on twitter and all social media channels.

The National was founded in 2008, setting a new standard for quality journalism in the Middle East. 

Each day The National reaches an influential, English-speaking audience to deliver the latest in news, business, arts, culture, lifestyle and sports, while leading the region in analytical content and commentary.

Green Miniseries Part II: The Commitment

‘This ice was melting 4 months before it ever had melted and it was terrifying.  That, for me, was the beginning of saying ‘this is happening!’ Robert Swan

In celebration of Earth Day, Global GoalsCast will release the second episode of the Green Miniseries. In this episode, join veteran explorer,  Robert Swan on the bottom of the earth where we find him not elated, but heartbroken. He’s just discovered his boat has sunk, leaving him $1.2 million in debt and reneging on his promise to look after Antarctica.  

Robert’s exploration of the South Pole takes place the same year the hole in the ozone is discovered above the continent and the human impact on the stratosphere is beginning to be understood.  Global GoalsCast hosts explore the current ozone layer repair efforts and are joined by British Antarctic Survey’s Jon Shanklin – part of the team who discovered the hole in the Ozone layer – and Nathan Kurtz – of NASA’s IceBridge project documenting the glacial retreat – to dig into the realities that fueled Robert’s crusade.  

Travel with us to discover the surprising friendship, born of Robert’s obsession with Captain Scott, that restores his grit and determination to erase his debt, make good on his commitment to the southern continent, and become the first man to walk to both the North and the South Poles. Then, meet Barney, Robert’s son, and hear how climate action strengthens their relationship as they create a personal mission to protect the planet, together.

Featured guests

Robert Swan

Robert Swan is the first person to have walked to both the North and South Poles. His leadership and determination made his 900 mile journey to the South Pole, the longest unassisted march in history. He was awarded the Polar Medal by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Youth.

Robert is a polar explorer, a leader in energy innovation and founder of the 2041 Foundation. This story of unbelievable spirit will take you on a journey of inspiration, courage and humility. Robert committed to his dream at the age of 11, achieved it with a team after 22 years and is now, on a 50 year mission to help preserve Antarctica.

Barney Swan

Barney Swan was born in London, United Kingdom, and then moved to tropical Far North Queensland, Australia at the age of 7. Being raised off grid in Australia helped him developed an acute understanding of how valuable energy is, with conveniences often not being an option. With degrees in Business and Multimedia, Barney now lives and works in California, co-directing 2041’s expeditions and ventures. Over the last 5 years, he has applied and trained skills in outdoor leadership, team management, & project strategy.

Nathan Kurtz

Nathan Kurtz received the B.S. degree in Physics from Iowa State University in 2004, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Atmospheric Physics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2007 and 2009, respectively. He joined the Cryospheric Sciences Branch in the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 2013. His research interests are in remote sensing of the polar regions with an emphasis on the use radar and laser altimetry data. He is currently the IceBridge Project Scientist and is the principle investigator responsible for the production of the IceBridge community sea ice data products.

Jonathan Shanklin

Born in Wrexham, and educated at King’s School, Chester, Jonathan Shanklin has worked for the British Antarctic Survey since 1977 after graduating from Cambridge University. In the early 1980s he was instrumental in the discovery of the Antarctic Ozone Hole with Joe Farman and Brian Gardiner. He has made 20 visits to the Antarctic and received the Polar Medal in 2006. Other interests include amateur astronomy, where he is an expert on comets, and botany, where he is county recorder for Cambridgeshire.

Additional Resources

Photo credit: British Antarctic Survey.

Click to view: The first comprehensive study of snowfall across Antarctica provides vital information in the study of future sea-level rise.

Photo: Dr Liz Thomas, lead author, measuring ice cores in the field. The study analysed 79 ice cores collected from across Antarctica revealing a 10% increase in snowfall over the last 200 years.


Coming Soon!

Green Miniseries Part I: The Promise

‘The draw was the place itself, the tragedy, the drama, the story, the diaries of Scott.  There is no edge, there are no lies because it wants you dead.’ Robert Swan

Approximately 61% of all fresh water on the Earth is held in Antarctica.  The melting ice in Antarctica is a symptom of global warming, which impacts sea levels around the world. This treacherous, yet invaluable place, is the setting for the Green Miniseries as we follow the history and present day expeditions of explorers Robert and Barney Swan across Antarctica, and spreading the message about the importance of climate action to curb climate change.  This series begins with World Water Day, continues past Earth Day, until Ocean’s Day. 

In Part I of this miniseries, take a detailed look at the amazing career of veteran explorer, Robert Swan.  Listen and passionately experience how human vulnerability reflects the Earth’s fragility as this episode touches on the experiences of his previous expeditions to the North and South poles (he was the first explorer to reach both Poles) and the inspiration that these experiences played on his growing passion towards climate action and the preservation of Antarctica.  During this episode, Robert also reflects on the experiences, both the successes and failures, of great historical explorer Robert Falcon Scott who attempted a journey to the South Pole in the early 20th century.  Throughout the episode, hear how the impact of climate change affects Antarctica and the rest of the planet, from sea levels rising in Fiji to commercial extinction threatening the global shrimp population.

Featured guests

Robert Swan

Robert Swan is the first person to have walked to both the North and South Poles. His leadership and determination made his 900 mile journey to the South Pole, the longest unassisted march in history. He was awarded the Polar Medal by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Youth.

Robert is a polar explorer, a leader in energy innovation and founder of the 2041 Foundation. This story of unbelievable spirit will take you on a journey of inspiration, courage and humility. Robert committed to his dream at the age of 11, achieved it with a team after 22 years and is now, on a 50 year mission to help preserve Antarctica.

Adam Baukus

As a Research Associate at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Adam’s work focuses on marine fisheries. He studies the distribution, abundance and behavior of a variety of finfish and shellfish species, such as cod, monkfish, herring and shrimp. The projects he works on are interdisciplinary so he works with a diverse group of people and we apply what we learn to things like fishing gear design to reduce bycatch, increase our understanding of ecological systems and increased knowledge and opportunities in seafood marketing.

Colles Stowell

A seafood-loving New Orleans native, Colles brings passion and dedication to classrooms, restaurants and communities as he discusses the myriad issues affecting seafood systems. He launched the non-profit One Fish Foundation in 2015 to talk to students of all ages about such critical issues as how seafood is harvested or farmed, climate change impacts on marine ecosystems, and fisheries management policies. The One Fish Foundation mission is to ensure students, their parents, consumers and local communities understand that where their seafood comes from, how and when it was harvested and even by whom matters.

Tom Perry

Tom Perry has worked for over ten years telling stories from across East-Asia and the Pacific, including four in the Solomon Islands as part of the Pacific’s largest peacekeeping/development operation, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Tom is currently the World Bank’s Team Leader for Pacific Communications where he has led the production of the World Bank’s Virtual Reality (VR) storytelling initiatives. Tom previously worked for humanitarian organization CARE International, leading CARE’s media and communications responses to disasters and humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Vanuatu.

Additional Resources


[00:00:00] Robert Swan: The draw was the place itself.  The tragedy, the drama, the story, the diaries of Scott…

[00:00:10] Robert Falcon Scott: The eternal silence of the great white desert…

[00:00:13] RS: It was my first proper expedition…

[00:00:15] RScott: Cloudy columns of snowdrift advancing from the South…

[00:00:18] RS: The place itself has a fascination for me.

[00:00:21] RScott: Pale yellow grates held in the coming storm

[00:00:24] RS: There is no edge, there are no lies because it wants you dead…

[00:00:41] Edie Gorman Lush: Welcome to the Global GoalsCast.

[00:00:43] Claudia Romo Edelman: The Podcast that explores if we can change the world.

[00:00:46] EGL: This episode is the first in our Green Mini-Series, that we’re airing from Water Day to Earth Day to Ocean Day. 

[00:00:52] CRE: The whole series is about Robert and Barney Swan, Father and Son.

[00:00:56] EGL: I really wish I had a penny for every time I’ve heard you say that.

[00:00:59] CRE: I’d have some pennies for you.  Today, we are focussing on Water Day, and you might be wondering how this connects. Well, approximately 61 percent of all freshwater on the Earth is held in Antarctica. We’re talking about the Swans because their story mostly takes place in Antarctica and helps us illustrate how climate change could affect us all.

[00:01:23] EGL: The melting ice in Antarctica is a symptom of global warming which impacts sea levels around the world.

[00:01:29] CRE: This series is about Robert’s drive to walk to both the North and the South Poles.

[00:01:35] EGL: It’s about how he battled depression and financial ruin as a result of his polar obsession. 

[00:01:41] CRE: It’s about how Robert and his son, Barney, achieved another first – a trek to the South Pole surviving solely on renewable energy.

[00:01:51] EGL: We’re going to tell you about how human vulnerability reflects the earth’s fragility. And we’re going to tell you about how the Global Goals provide a way for us to protect the poles – the Earth’s early warning system.

[00:02:03] CRE: Well, that’s a lot of things in one episode.

[00:02:05] EGL: That is true, but we are ambitious!  We use stories to tease out the wider issues of the Global Goals.  With these episodes, we’re going to play some special music when we zoom out of Robert’s story to look at some other stories associated with Antarctica and what climate change and human impact has brought. Would you like to hear the music?

[00:02:24] CRE: I would.

[00:02:32] CRE: Well, that was nice music. Before we get to Robert Swan’s trek to Antarctica with his son, Barney, we want to take you back in history. Just at the time of the origin of Robert’s obsession with Antarctica.

[00:02:46] EGL: Let’s go back to before you knew him, to a time when he was discovering what really drove him.

[00:02:56] RS: “I saw a film on Christmas Day called ‘Scott of the Antarctic’…all about a very brave British explorer who got to the South Pole against huge odds, a tough journey.  You’ve got to imagine that Antarctica is twice the size of Australia and no one had ever been to the South Pole. And when Captain Scott arrived at the South Pole, they looked ahead and suddenly, they saw a flag in the middle of nowhere.  And realized that they’d been beaten to the South Pole by the greatest of all explorers, a gentleman from Norway called Roald Amundsen.  And he’d beaten Captain Scott and his poor team by one month. Think of that! And then very sadly on the way back he and his whole team died of starvation and cold out on the ice cap.  So deep down inside me, I had this feeling that maybe I could level the score. That was just a silly little thing as a kid I thought about”

[00:04:34] CRE: Even before those early explorations of Antarctica by Robert Swan’s heroes, came those looking for more than adventure and glory.   Captain Cook’s voyage in 1773 reported vast seal populations and that led to British and American hunters to head South. 

[00:04:54] EGL: I really like how you say voyage…OK, the polar region was considered untapped wealth. These original inhabitants of Antarctica were hunted and killed for their fur.  By the early 20th century seals were considered commercially extinct – no longer viable to catch.

[00:05:11] CRE: Yes, Edie, this is still happening all over the planet.  In the story you’re about to hear, commercial extinction is caused not by hunting, but possibly climate change, forcing fishermen in the Gulf of Maine to adapt.

[00:05:26] EGL: Colles Stowell of One Fish Foundation and Adam Baukus of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute tell us more.

[00:05:35] CS:It started in 2011 when the harvest of Northern Shrimp ‘pandalus borealis’ dropped off more than 50%. And then from 2011 to 2012, it dropped by more than 150%. It went from about 2500 metric tonnes of Northern Shrimp in the northern Atlantic, down to about 350 metric tonnes. So, they immediately put a moratorium on the shrimp.

[00:06:10] AB: “So right now the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than many other places in the ocean, making it less and less hospitable for shrimp. The survival of the eggs, the juveniles, the adults and their spawning behaviour is all closely affected by temperature, and shrimp prefer colder water. We use acoustic instruments which are basically a fancy version of a fish finder that you see in many boats. We developed a survey using 10 boats spread across the coast to go out and look for shrimp to determine if they are moving further East perhaps chasing colder water temperature. The preliminary results definitely showed us that we saw shrimp signal even further East in colder waters than historically would expect to see shrimp”.

 [00:06:55] EGL: And it’s not just Shrimp. There are worrying signs that Lobster numbers are declining, Colles Stowell again…… (Coles Stow-ell)

[00:07:02] CLIP: Colles “This recent study suggests that if global warming keeps at its pace in warming up the Gulf of Maine, as it has been which is, again, faster than 99% of oceans on the planet, the lobster harvest will likely be dropped by as much as 60%. That will put lobstermen out of business, that will affect waterfront communities”.

[00:07:29] AB: “In the world of fisheries, there is a lot of effort right now thinking about how we adapt? The species that we’re used to seeing are potentially going down, cod and shrimp are two examples in the Gulf of Maine, and new species are coming in and so it’s all about working together to try and adapt to the changes”.

[00:07:50] CRE: Adapting to change is a common theme on a global, as well as personal, level and is often fraught with difficulties. The conditions needed for good change require resilience and innovation, themes that are essential for the Global Goals to be delivered.

[00:08:07] EGL: Colles and Adam’s research is ongoing and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. One thing we do know is that the planet’s average surface temperature has risen by about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, that’s a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.  The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters of ocean showing warming of point three degrees Fahrenheit, just since 1969.

[00:08:37] CRE: We will catch up with Colles and Adam in a future episode to find out the latest developments. Thanks to our partner, Slow Food for their help with this story.

[00:08:48] EGL: Back to Robert Swan. That moment in front of the TV on Christmas Day watching Scott of the Antarctic was the beginning of a lifetime obsession. During his time at Durham university, Rob discovered a set of Scott’s journals in a used book shop. 

[00:09:03] CRE: He says this ‘foolhardy purchase’ of a hard bound, two volume set, emptied his bank account.  It also deepened his obsession to follow in Scott’s shadow.

[00:09:16] EGL: He still wanted to be a polar explorer, but there were a few obstacles in his way.

[00:09:21] RS: “The day I left university, I realised two things. One is that I had no experience at all.  So, I had no credibility.  So, there were two things on my mind.  One is that I had to find the right people and I didn’t know anybody. And secondly, I’d have to raise a huge amount of money because through my research I’d realised that If you wanted to go there you’d have to buy a ship, you’d have to spend a year living in a hut on the edge of Antarctica.  Then you’d have to walk to the pole and hope to hell is to your ship returned to collect you.  So, the first thing was to get credibility. And the only credible thing I could think of doing was to visit Antarctica. Normally, the British Antarctic Survey only takes scientists and serious mountaineers. So, I applied to join the British Antarctic Survey as a box mover.  I’ve always been quite good at moving boxes.  So, after a bit of a struggle I was accepted by the BAS.  Went to Antarctica, fell in love with the place and met the people that I believed were the right people that could execute the expedition to the South Pole. And I remember writing them all a letter at the end of this six months period in Antarctica saying, ‘Would you like to join me, one day I’m going to walk to the South Pole”, and nobody replied.  Six or seven years letter, I wrote to them again, and all of them said, ‘yeah we’ll come’.”

[00:11:05] EGL: In 1984, Robert found support in one of the sponsors of his past heroes, Shell, who fuelled Scott’s ship 75 years earlier. Without Shell’s support, Robert admits the trip never would have happened.

[00:11:18] CRE: Sir Peter Scott, the son of Robert’s hero, also became a patron in exchange for Rob naming the expedition, ‘in the footsteps of Scott’.

[00:11:30] EGL: We asked Rob what kept him going through the seven years it took to raise the 7 million dollars he needed to fund the journey.

[00:11:37] RS: “The draw was the place itself. To actually relive this historic journey to the South Pole. I had no idea what it was gonna take. I had absolutely no idea how much it would hurt, I had no idea what it was going to be like, but it was the tragedy, the drama, the story, the diaries of Scott, the film ‘Scott of the Antarctic’, all of these things to rather a naïve brain were driving me forward.  And as people joined us, then the thing took on a life of its own.  And suddenly ships were arriving”

[00:12:23] EGL: Rob’s mother named the ship that would take them to Antarctica the Southern Quest.  They nearly didn’t make it out of London.  At a launch attended by press, broadcasters, well-wishers AND a full military band, they ploughed straight into Tower Bridge. As the papers said the next day, their trip was “Starting out with a bang!”

[00:12:42] CRE: The southern quest was originally a fishing trawler, it needed work, mainly done by volunteers, to strengthen the hull, fit ice deflecting plates and supplies to fuel the 10,000 + mile voyage to Antarctica via New Zealand.

[00:12:57] EGL: While this was happening, Rob’s companions, Roger Meers and Gareth Wood worked on navigation, logistics and the materials to build a hut they’d use as basecamp.

[00:13:08] RS: “We will come back because we’ve taken every measure including having our wisdom teeth out and our appendix to make sure that we don’t suffer the same fate Scott did. But I’m not stupid enough to say the Antarctic and its winds and its weather temperatures down to minus 50 minus 60 degrees centigrade winds up to 125 miles an hour. I’d be crazy if I didn’t say that that didn’t frighten me. But we feel that we’ve prepared sufficiently to have cautious optimism about the expedition.

[00:13:37] CRE: That was Robert Swan in 1984.

[00:13:44] CRE: The southern quest left the UK in November 1984, calling into Cardiff for coal supplies.

[00:13:50] EGL: Rob, Roger and Gareth joined the rest of the crew in New Zealand and Rob used his time at sea to ground himself in the expedition. After many months of being in what he called ‘salesman mode’. He spent weeks working below deck in the ships engine room before he and his companions arrived in the most famous waters of the Southern Ocean, McMurdo Sound. Those birds you hear are the south arctic skuas, widely known as the pirates of the avian world.

[00:14:15] CRE: Rob climbed into the ships crow’s nest contemplating what he was doing in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet and saw Cape Evans, and the building he had spent most of his life dreaming about.

 [00:14:33] RS: “There was Scott’s Hut that I’d studied in history and I knew every inch of it and I had it in my head.  And I remember walking into Scott’s hut and truly expected somebody to come around the corner and say, ‘you know well we’ve been expecting you for a while, Swan’. There was a real sense that I was back in this place that perhaps I’d been before, in some strange way”

[00:15:07] EGL: Captain Scott and his team had built the hut in 1911. It had room for 25 men, 19 Siberian ponies and months of supplies. It was the base for Scott’s fatal trek to the South Pole and was inhabited by Scott’s crew until 1913, when the Terra Nova expedition officially ended.

[00:15:26] CRE: With the failures of Scott’s expedition in his mind, Robert started to fully comprehend what he’d got himself into. After seven days offloading 64 tons of supplies,

[00:15:39] EGL: Well, he did say he was good at moving boxes…

[00:15:42] CRE: He and his companions watched the Southern Quest sail off, leaving them alone in the icy wilderness.

[00:15:49] EGL: They knew they had nine months ‘wintering over’ with only 2hrs of sunlight a day at their newly erected base, and 900 miles to march before they would see their ship again.

[00:16:01] RS: “It was frightening to be left for a year on your own with no communications with the outside world and know that at the end of that year you’d have to deliver a journey of nine hundred miles on foot with no back up at all to the South Pole. And it was my first proper expedition.  So, it was a very, very soul-searching year there before we even left for the Pole. With people that didn’t like each other very much. So, you had that problem too.  Strong, different characters which I was very glad I chose, because I’d learned something as a kid, being number 7 in a family, that the reason that people upset you is because normally they’re right. So, I didn’t choose my best friends, I did choose people who were very very different than me.

[00:17:04] CRE: The ship was essential because they were wintering over before starting their march across the ice. That meant they needed shelter, a generator, fuel and supplies for nine long months of Antarctic winter.

[00:17:17] EGL:  It was one of the questions Rob was asked the most, ‘why did you have to winter over?’

[00:17:22] CRE: Their schedule was squeezed by weather at both ends. In November, the summer made it warm enough to walk, but it wasn’t warm enough to break up the ice for the ship to get to McMurdo Sound until January.

[00:17:36] EGL: So, they left Britain in the northern hemisphere in the autumn, arrived in the Southern Ocean in December, made it through the ice pack to drop off expedition members and supplies, and then got the boat heading North before the ice imprisoned it. They then had a nine month wait before expedition season – that is the optimal three months when the weather is inhospitable rather than lethal.

[00:17:59] CRE: During those nine months, Rob struck up a long-distance pen pal relationship with John Mills, the actor that played Captain Scott in the film that had inspired him nearly two decades earlier.

 [00:18:13]RS: “So I wrote to John Mills saying, ‘Dear Sir John it’s all your bloody fault.  I’m stuck in a hut with four people I hate.  We’ve been here for nine and a half months. I’ve got nine hundred miles to walk to the South Pole.  I haven’t seen a lady in a year and it’s all your bloody fault.’ So, I got a reply which was just a really nice photograph of John Mills in Ealing Studios with plastic snow on his face from the 1949 production of Scott of the Antarctic saying at the bottom, ‘Dear Rob, if you don’t look like this after a while you’ll know going the wrong way, Yours, Jonny”

[00:18:55] CRE: I love this story.  This fledgling friendship with the man Rob considered to be Scott, would come in handy later in his life.

[00:19:06] EGL: Here’s a diary entry from Captain Scott – Arctic prose at its best.

[00:19:11] RScott: The eternal silence of the great white desert. Cloudy columns of snow drift advancing from the south, pale yellow wraiths, heralding the coming storm, blotting out one by one the sharp cut lines of the land.

[00:19:25] RS: I spent a hell of a lot of time living the history of Scott, feeling what it would have felt like, looking at their old equipment.  So, once we started the journey it became a machine. Where you are using minimal energy to do everything. So, you pull your sledges up, you put the tent up, so there is a well-oiled machine that gets better oiled as you go.

[00:19:56] CRE: Robert, Gareth and Roger left their hut on October 25th, 1985. They put on their sledge harnesses and began to pull loads double their own body weight.

[00:20:08] EGL: As they left, they passed the McMurdo Williams airfield, used by the Hercules aircraft on their way to the South Pole, a mere three hours away by air. Rob wouldn’t see the South Pole for another 90 days.

[00:20:23] CRE: He wrote in his book about the expedition:

[00:20:26] EGL: “Early on, for me, there was only the sledge, the harness. I tried to make it my friend. I saw no other option. But how do you not grow to hate your torturer? Always it was there, the weight, the pull, the dull slog. Slide one ski forward and pull. Now slide the other ski forward and pull. Repeat ad nauseam.”

[00:20:49] CRE: After 450 miles, Rob’s dream shuddered.

[00:20:54] “My sledge was starting to get heavier and heavier and heavier.  And I started to feel much weaker than I thought I should be feeling. One day, 450 days into the journey I stopped, and I couldn’t move. And Roger, came back, very kindly, and said Rob, don’t’ worry, I’ll pull your sledge the last 500 meters to the camp which they’d set up waiting for me. And he put the harness on and he could hardly move the damn sledge. And he wrote in his book, that moment I realized Robert must have had a muscle for a brain. How the hell he wasn’t complaining pulling the log through the sand “

[00:21:49] EGL: In the tent that night, Roger examined Rob’s sledge and discovered the runners had been put on backwards, creating extra friction and requiring excess effort.

[00:21:58] CRE: Can you imagine?

[00:21:59] EGL: I can’t bear to think about it.

[00:22:01] “The next day, very kindly, Roger and Gareth said, ‘Hey Rob you just go ahead’. And I went ahead, putting in the same amount of energy as I had been.  And after about an hour I looked back and I couldn’t see the other guys.  They were miles behind me.  And on that day, I knew I had another 500 miles in me to make it to the South Pole.  That was a very, very difficult time.  At that time of those runners, and that very hard weakening of me mentally and physically was something that came back to haunt me very badly on the South Pole energy challenge that we’ve just undertaken. “

[00:22:53] CRE: We will get to the South Pole Energy Challenge in episode 3 – it’s the journey he did last year.

[00:023:01] “Had the situation just been a weakness of mine, not a practical weakness I think at that stage we might have been able to turn ‘round but probably not.   And we’d made a decision between us as a team that if somebody could not keep going then that person would be left to die. And the only decision that we’d never got ‘round to making which it was too hard to make was did you leave that person food. The place itself has a fascination for me because there is no edge, there are no lies it is entirely truthful because it wants you dead.

[00:23:48] CRE: One thing I’ve learned about Robert, his commitment to Antarctica is deep.  Here’s where he makes the first of many promises to the place he has idolized since his childhood.

[00:24:00] RS:  If I make a deal, I do it. And we were suffering, I was suffering, and I went quietly out, and I said, look, to Antarctica, don’t do us in, I’ll look after you. I wasn’t really saying you know I’ll have a whole plan and campaign and I will devote the rest of my life to preserving you. It was more like trying to get out of jail. It was just to do something, to say something that hopefully Antarctica wouldn’t kill us. I didn’t realize that it would then become a lifetime’s commitment.  I was inspired by Scott, Shackleton and Jacques Cousteau to continue with that promise.  But the promise came from panic. The promise didn’t come from some good feeling that I want to be doing the right thing.”

[00:25:05] EGL: I wonder if he has ever regretted making that promise.

[00:25:09] CRE: So, let’s look at why Antarctica is so important to protect.  It may feel like you’re on another planet when you’re standing in minus 60 degrees centigrade, but we know that we are all connected. What happens in the farthest polar region affects the most tropical of islands. 

[00:25:28] EGL: Time to put on your sunglasses, Claudia. From the sub-zero temperatures of the Antarctic, we’re now going to go warmer climates now in the South Pacific, where the islands of Fiji are some of the first to experience the impact of global warming, and the melting of the ice caps.

[00:25:43] CRE: This story comes to us through one of our partners, the SDG Action Campaign. One of the finalists in the awards that they organize is a 360° virtual reality video called ‘Our Home, Our People’, that explores climate change vulnerability and resilience in Fiji through the stories of four people. Here, producer Tom Perry tells us about the challenges that they are facing.

[00:26:10] Tom Perry: The Pacific is really on the front lines of climate change and Pacific islanders have done almost nothing to cause climate change and yet the Pacific is really the part of the world that’s already seeing its impact so severely.  Catalina is really the main character in the film and she is from a small community called Vunisavisavi which is in the north of Vanua Levu in Fiji, it’s one of the larger islands in Fiji, and the significance of this community is that it’s one of the first communities in Fiji where homes have already been moved because of the significant impact of sea level rise on that community already. And it’s already changing some of the dynamics of how people plant their crops and what people are doing for food and for fishing as well.  One of the striking things when you walk into this community is the soil is just rock hard and that’s because the salt water has just completely swamped it.  Particularly during the king tides which happen 2-3 times a year and that, as the community says, it’s only a few years ago that that wasn’t happening. There’s an enormous strength and sense of community in Fiji that is really tackling this issue head on. They really are coming together to build whatever the necessary changes and developments are that are going to protect themselves from climate change.

[00:27:42] CRE: Tom’s film captures their story beautifully. Even if you don’t have VR glasses you can see a web version of it at

[00:27:52] EGL: OK, Claudia, get the fleece mittens back on, we’re heading back to Antarctic. By the time the trio reached the Beardmore Glacier, they had bonded over their blisters, sores, aches and pains.

[00:28:04] CRE: As Robert wrote in his book, “Barrier, done. Glacier, done. Plateau ahead.”

[00:28:11] EGL: They walked faster, marching 9 hours a day, covering over 17 miles a day. Here’s Rob talking about his first sight of civilization for 90 days.

[00:28:20] RS: “We came up a hill and we could see the South Pole station for a good 20 miles. Which doesn’t sound very much, but that’s two days of walking, so it drove us nuts.  To be able to see this damn thing, it never seemed to get any bigger, but we could see it! We walked in to the under-ice station and everybody was clapping, and we felt so proud of what we’d done. Although we were very different people, we had come together, and we had done what people had said could not be done. And I was thinking about Scott and I was thinking about the upset that Scott must have felt arriving at the South Pole to find the Norwegian flag there.

[00:29:14] CRE: Before we go on, let’s hear what Captain Scott said when he reached the bottom of the earth.

 [00:029:20] RScott: We marched on, found that it was a black flag tied to a sledge bearer; nearby the remains of a camp. The Norwegians have forestalled us and are first at the Pole. It is a terrible disappointment.

We have turned our back now on the goal of our ambition and must face our 800 miles of solid dragging – and good-bye to most of the day-dreams!

[00:29:53] RS: “5 minutes after our arrival, the base commander came out from the South Pole and said sorry rob your ship just sank ‘five minutes earlier before we arrived. And the loss of Southern Quest suddenly mixed up history, mixed up me for, thirty-two years it completely screwed my head because – suddenly I was Scott”

[00:30:23] EGL He was Scott AND Shackleton – another great polar hero – all bound up in one.

Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, was crushed beyond repair by the force of millions of tons of ice on its 1914 attempt to cross the vast south polar continent.

[00:30:40] CRE: Robert’s boat, the Southern Quest, had cracked under that same immense power of nature. His escape vessel had become another shipwreck, joining Shackleton’s Endurance in some of the most lethal seas in the world.

[00:30:56] EGL: So Instead of revelling in the tremendous achievement, something he’d been looking forward to since he was 11, Rob stood there contemplating how he was going to get everyone home, thinking about the $1.2 debts secured by the boat, and the mess he promised he would never leave in Antarctica.

 [00:31:15] RS: So, I felt just as Shackleton must have felt when his ship went down, and I didn’t know what to do.  All I knew was that I’d lost a ship, I had twenty-five people standing on an iceberg, I had three people at the South Pole that all looked like somebody had forgot to have buried us. And I’d made commitments to leave Antarctica as clean and tidy as possible.  To Jacques Cousteau, I’d made the promise, although a bit hollow, I’d made the promise to look after Antarctica.  I realised if we did not pull something round, we’d just be seen as a failure.  And I don’t like that word very much.  It’s never been a part of my vocabulary, actually until recently.

[00:32:13] EGL:  Talk about a cliff edge!  I can’t imagine how Robert must have felt, but we won’t have long to wait to find out, because that’s coming up in the next show. In the meantime, let’s talk about water.

[00:32:22] CRE: We’re looking at the Swan’s journey, not only because we find it really interesting and close to us, but also because it helps us shine a light on how climate change is going to impact our life.  Global warming is causing the shrinking of the ice cap. 

Global warming is also causing the intensification of the water cycle that causes more extreme floods and droughts globally.

[00:32:47] EGL: Many dry regions, including the Mediterranean and southern Africa, will suffer badly from reduced rainfall and increased evaporation. Scientists estimate that around one billion people in dry areas, that’s thirteen percent of the world, may face increasing water scarcity.

[00:33:06] CRE: So here are three important facts. Water is a right, not a privilege: 2.1 billion people do not have access to safe water today.  That means one in four cannot get safe drinking water at home when they need it.

[00:33:23] EGL: Water is a daily chore.  For 263 million people – that’s more than the size of Brazil – it takes over 30 minutes per round trip to collect water.  Most of the time, this is women and girls. 

[00:33:38] CRE: By 2025, 1.8 billion people are expected to be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity.

[00:33:48] EGL: And here are three actions for today.  You can follow the Swan’s journeys on

[00:33:54] CRE: Visit the UNICEF website to see what they’re doing to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in over 100 countries worldwide

[00:34:02] EGL: You can also make a big difference yourself, in your own consumption

Join our social media campaign  #ICommitTo and commit to turning off the lights, walking more, carpooling or, even better, riding a bike instead of driving.  Eat the food you buy and make less of it meat.  

[00:34:23] Coming up in our next show, we head back to the South Pole, where we left Robert, his ship sinking and a team of explorers to get home. We’ll be hearing about what Rob did next, another chance meeting with an old hero, and a reconnection to those promises that Robert made to do everything he could to look after Antarctica.

[00:34:44] EGL: And, if you want to make sure you don’t miss that or any of our episodes, subscribe to us via Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there, give us five stars, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, @globalgoalscast, for the latest news and developments.

[00:35:01] CRE:  That was Edie lush and I am Claudia Romo Edelman.

[00:35:04] EGL: That was the Global GoalsCast

[00:35:10] CREDITS: Thanks to HARMAN, the official sound of Global GoalsCast. 

Music in this episode was by Andrew Phillips, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Aasheesh Paliwal and Ellis.

Excerpts from Journals: Captain Scott’s Expeditions, used by permission from Oxford University Press.