All eyes were on screen, but the climate emergency was on the minds of attendees during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)—one of the largest publicly-attended film festivals in the world.
Behind the scenes, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) teamed up with acclaimed photographer Justin Wu and The Krim Group, to set up a pop-up photo studio to capture the concerns of celebrity influencers and amplify their calls for climate action. The activation marked the beginning of an initiative called “The World is in Our Hands,” which calls upon high-profile personalities to use their voice to shine a spotlight on the global climate emergency. The studio space was made available by the Fairmont Royal York, one of the Festival’s premier event hotels.
Simultaneously, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Aidan Gallagher’s photo appeared in an ad featured in a special issue of Variety magazine dedicated to environmental action in Hollywood. As part of the initiative, Aidan is challenging his fans and followers to shift to a more plant-based diet and highlighting the power of collective action— “when we all come together, we can have a huge impact,” he said.
Starting on 17 September, participants will begin sharing their photos on social media, each paired with a message describing how they are personally addressing one of the most critical issues of our time. By explaining how their daily actions are helping to reduce their carbon footprints—whether it’s traveling more sustainably, saving energy, or eating less meat—they will encourage their followers to join the movement.
“The World is in Our Hands” builds upon the UN’s coordinated #ActNow campaign designed to raise awareness, ambition, and action around climate change and to accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement. Primarily an online and social media campaign, #ActNow helps educate and encourage individual actions for climate, mainly by adjusting consumption patterns. By making simple changes to habits and routines, including everyday choices with less harmful effects on the environment, everyone has the power to confront the climate challenge.
Images will also be featured widely as part of UNEP’s communication efforts between the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York City in September and the Santiago Climate Summit (also known as COP 25) in December.
To keep the momentum going, additional photos will be taken at UNEP’s Champions of the Earth gala to be held on 26 September in New York City. From grassroot champions and corporate leaders to political pioneers, the Champions of the Earth award celebrates those taking bold action for our world. These laureates are transforming economies, shaping new and sustainable technology, and leading political change. They fight environmental injustice, protect our environment, and defend our natural resources.