BTS at The 2021 UNGA: Celebrities and Climate Change Activism

BTS at The 2021 UNGA

Global musical sensations, BTS,  merge pop-culture and diplomacy through their speech at the recent UNGA held in New York.

September 20, 2021 marked the third visit of global pop icons, BTS, to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The seven-member group, comprising RM (Kim Namjoon), Jin (Kim Seokjin), Suga (Min Yun-gi), J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), Jimin (Park Ji-min), V (Kim Taehyung) and Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook), was appointed as the “Special Presidential Envoy for Future Generations and Culture” by president Moon Jae-in, to accompany him to the UNGA and affiliated events.

The septet delivered an engaging speech following their President’s address on the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). They spoke about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the youth around the world, which has been called “the lost generation”. They also addressed the involvement and contribution of global youth in the fight against climate change. The speech was given with the aid of stories and images that their fans, the ARMY (Adorable Representatives M.C. for Youth), sent to them using the hashtags #YourStories and #YouthToday on social media.

“I learned that there are many young people interested in environmental issues and choose it as their field of study. The future is [an] unexplored territory, and that’s where we, more than anyone, will spend our time. And they are searching for the answers,” said the Group’s Leader, RM.

BTS has been well-known for expressing their strong sociopolitical opinions in their music since their debut in 2013. They have continued working to bring attention to self-love and mental health, primarily through their “Love Yourself” campaign in partnership with UNICEF. They have used their massively influential platform to contribute to various causes, the members’ individual philanthropic endeavors being the cause of inspiration for their massive fan base. 

ARMYs show love for their favorite artists and celebrate important anniversaries and achievements by making positive contributions to society and the environment in many creative and proactive ways. Fan-run organizations have brought forward initiatives, like One In An Army’sWe Purple Earth” campaign and Borasaek Vision’s Sustainable Development Goals with ARMY”, to create a culture of charity, volunteer work and activism among BTS fans across the globe. Well aware of their massive numbers, the BTS ARMY has equated being a big fandom to the potential of creating a big impact.

The members of BTS are not the only celebrities using their platform to motivate people to take initiative against climate change. Many actors, artists and athletes, among other public personalities, have used their massive following to spread information and awareness around global issues like climate change.

Athletes

Sports are an aspect of civilization that has always been intrinsically tied to nature. Due to climate change and global warming, many sports dependent on nature are suffering. Inconsistent winters and reduced snow cover have become a threat to many winter sports, while erratic wind and wave patterns have created similar issues for open water sports. Many Olympic athletes have spoken about climate change and sustainability in the “Athletes for the Earth” campaign.

Actors

Films have the potential to inform and inspire their audience, and the acting community has major influence over public opinion. 

Upon founding his eponymous foundation in 1998, which is “dedicated to the protection and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants”, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has been a prominent figure in the climate change movement. Other Hollywood activism front-runners include Jane Fonda, Rosario Dawson, Mark Ruffalo, Lupita Nyong’o, Don Cheadle and Natalie Portman, to name a few.

Artists

Like BTS, other artists in the entertainment industry are using the power of their art and platform as a medium to bring about change. Younger artists, like Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, Megan Thee Stallion and Jaden Smith, have gracefully taken on the mantle of eco-activism through their music, following in the footsteps of veteran artists, like Lana del Rey and Coldplay. Coldplay has even given up on world-touring unless the tour is carbon-neutral

Recently, the K-pop group Blackpink released a video discussing the effects of climate change in hopes of calling their fans to action. The four-member group, composed of members Kim Jisoo, Kim Jennie, Park Rosé and Lalisa Manobal, has been named the cultural ambassadors for COP26, the upcoming United Nations’ climate change conference in Glasgow in November.

Climate change is increasingly altering life as we know it. It is thus important for individuals to use their privileged positions and platforms to connect, inform and educate their audience.   

Banner image courtesy of BTS official Twitter

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