Inspire

FIGHT FOREVER CHEMICALS CAMPAIGN

Converging an impact campaign with a narrative feature film to make visible an unseen health crisis to enact policy change and mobilize the conscious consumer
FIGHT FOREVER CHEMICALS CAMPAIGN

United States – In November 2019, the “Fight Forever Chemicals” campaign was launched by Participant alongside the narrative film Dark Waters to draw the attention of consumers, brands and governments to the modern-day implications of the quiet proliferation of dangerous PFAS, or “forever chemicals.” Participant combined the power of a good story well told with real world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues and for this campaign the overarching goal was to accelerate the passage of policies that would restrict the use of forever chemicals in the United States and Europe. The Fight Forever Chemicals Campaign had two supporting objectives: (1) to strengthen the movement of advocates holding the government and industry accountable for proliferating forever chemicals, and (2) to raise public and political consciousness of the modern dangers of forever chemicals. 
 
Forever chemicals, also known as PFAS, are a family of per- and polyfluorinated chemicals that create the nonstick, stain-resistant, and waterproof products we use in our daily lives. They are bio-persistent, meaning they do not break down in the environment and build up in humans and animals over time. They are in the blood of 99% of humans. 
 
Against the backdrop of insufficient regulation, minimal awareness of the dangers of forever chemicals, and activist fatigue, the Dark Waters campaign raised the public profile of this threat and supported the movement of activists demanding stronger environmental health protections. Together with partners in 21 states, policymakers, activists, and filmmakers the campaign effectively helped bring forever chemicals from the margins to the mainstream. Since the launch of the campaign, there has been more action on forever chemicals than any other period in history. The film and campaign helped influence at least 14 pieces of legislation in the US, including important measures to clean up, mitigate, study, and ban PFAS. In Europe, the EU announced a total phase out and ban of PFAS as a class. 43 multinational companies pledged to go PFAS-free, and 3M announced that it would stop producing forever chemicals. In the six months after the film’s release, there was a 62% increase in mentions of the term “forever chemicals” and in 2023, the term was officially added to Dictionary.com.  

 

“Carcinogenic chemicals have taken residence in our daily lives–contaminating communities around the world. We set out to make forever chemicals and the systems that proliferated them visible.”

Amanda Chen, VP Social Impact, Participant  

Amina J. Mohammed

Deputy Secretary-General
Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG)

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment.

Ms. Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning. She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. Mohammed began her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria. She served as an advocate focused on increasing access to education and other social services, before moving into the public sector, where she rose to the position of adviser to four successive Presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed has been conferred several honorary doctorates and has served as an adjunct professor, lecturing on international development. The recipient of various global awards, Ms. Mohammed has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels. She is the mother of six children and has two grandchildren.

MAME BALLA

ARTIST, SINGER, SONGWRITER, MUSIC ENTERTAINER, PRODUCER

Mame Balla is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, and music producer based in Europe who sings about peace, environmental issues, the experiences of growing up in West Africa and more.

Mame Balla has worked with Bouba Ndour, producer and brother of the famous singer Youssou Ndour, with whom he released two internationally successful albums. Between his solo career and the former music groups Dancehall Masters and Darou Salam, Mame Balla has partnered with international artists of different music genres such as Senegalese pop singer Viviane, dancer Ndeye Geye, hip hop group Gokh-Bi System, and Dutch-Albanese rapper Jon Tarifa. He has also partnered with Polish and German artists for a jazz project, and performed with Congolese afrobeat singers in the Netherlands. Between 1999 and 2004, Mame Balla and his former group Dancehall Masters received awards as Best New Group and Best Group in The Gambia; and also received the prize Prix de l’intégration at a Senegalese hip-hop awards. Mame Balla took a course in music production at the State of Mic Studio in The Gambia. Performing with Pape Samory and Issa Ndiaye. 

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile

CULTURAL ARCHITECT, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST AND PERFORMANCE ARTIST

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile is an international award-winning cultural architect, communications specialist, performance artist, development practitioner and human rights advocate. OkayAfrica named her one of the 100 Most Influential Women of African Descent in 2018. Her accolades include being nominated for the US State Department’s International Women of Courage Award, a TED Fellow, Queen’s Young Leader, Chevening Scholar, Mandela Washington Fellow, and OutRight’s UN Religion Fellow. She holds a Sociology Masters in Human Rights, Culture, and Social Justice, with a focus on Disability Rights and Public Space Design, from Goldsmiths University of London, UK. Her published writing spans theatre, academic texts and policy analyses. 

MARINA PONTI

DIRECTOR OF THE UN SDG ACTION CAMPAIGN
Ms. Ponti is the Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign since July 2018.
 
Prior, Ms. Ponti served as Global Deputy Director and Regional Director for Europe for over a decade and was at the vanguard of innovative campaign initiatives, building multi-stakeholder coalitions, mobilizing resources and forging long-term partnerships between civil society organizations, local government, parliamentarians, media, the private sector and the UN.
Ms. Ponti served as an advocacy and resource mobilization specialist with UNICEF and the UN Secretariat. She also was Chief Operating Officer of Catapult -a girls and women’s right crowdfunding platform and as Special Advisor on post-2015 during the final negotiations of the Agenda 2030 for the global network Social Watch.
 
Ms. Ponti holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Milan and has completed an executive education programme from INSEAD in Global Management, Finance and Partnerships.

Ulrika Modéer

Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy (BERA) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Ms. Ulrika Modéer officially began her role on 20 August 2018 as UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy. In this role she leads the organization in nurturing and growing key relationships with Member States, and new and emerging partners, as well as lead UNDP’s communications and advocacy, as it works to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Modéer previously served as Sweden’s State Secretary for International Development Cooperation and Climate and has been instrumental in reshaping the country’s international development cooperation to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. She combines a strong policy background with parliamentary and civil society experience and has had several assignments in Latin America (Bolivia, Guatemala) and Africa (Mozambique/South Africa). Ms. Modéer holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

TOLU OLUBUNMI

FOUNDER AND CEO, LIONS WRITE

Tolu Olubunmi is a Nigerian-born, American-raised chemical engineer turned political strategist, social entrepreneur and public speaker. She is the founder and CEO of the social impact venture, Lions Write. In 2018, Tolu was tapped by the Director-General of the UN Migration Agency (IOM) for a special appointment as Advisor to the UN Department of Global Communications and Manager of the Climate Action Campaign ActNow.  Tolu has established and led numerous NGOs and campaigns focused on education, migration, economic inclusion, sustainability, and climate change. She has worked closely with leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society to shift culture, influence public policy and build strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships – she served on the World Economic Forum’s Migration Council, co-founded Immigrant Heritage Month, and has helped draft and implement U.S. immigration policies.  

Tolu sits on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League, Board of Directors of USA for IOM. In 2015, the World Economic Forum named her one of 15 Women Changing the World and an Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur. Her inspiring personal story and work have been profiled by several media outlets, including BBC, MSNBC, TIME, CBS, US News and World Report. Tolu is an inaugural Leadership Institute Fellow at the Center for American Progress and holds a chemistry-engineering degree from Washington and Lee University. 

His Excellency Mr. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari

Director General

Qatar Fund for Development

Since 2014, Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari has led the establishment, strategy-setting, partnerships, and funding programs of the Qatar Fund for Development in developing countries. Previously, Mr. Al-Kuwari was the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director – Joint Venture and International Business of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). He has been appointed to the boards of leading organisations, including: Harrods, Volkswagen Group, Fairmont Raffles Group, Songbird Real Estate, Qatar Exchange, Katara Hospitality, and Mowasalat. He holds an Executive MBA in Business Administration from the London Business School, an MBA in Accounting from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Qatar University. He graduated from the Leadership Development Program at Harvard Business School and Qatar Leadership Center.