Fairy Tales for a Fairer World

Contes de fées pour un monde meilleur - Cuentos de Hadas para un mundo más justo

In the Storybook, classic characters take on new adventures in the setting of traditional fairy tales from around the world, whilehighlighting issues such as climate change, epidemics, displacement, and inequality


The world is made up of stories. Stories shape our thinking and these thoughts steer our actions. Stories reveal truths about ourselves, people around us and the world we live in. They also have the ability to take us from reality into a world of imagination where ideas are born, creativity inspired, vulnerability exposed and a new hope for being the change is instilled. It is through stories that we connect with different characters, live through their victories, their challenges and ultimately develop a unique understanding of life beyond our own. Across genres, we empathise with others’ experiences, that like our own, are not always ending ‘happily ever after’. 

Fairy tales have been passed along for centuries and have become part of our cultural heritage. In a way, we are united by the stories that we grew up with. Many traditional tales share the same plot but have been adapted to their particular region. There are many stories where the princess must be married off to a suitable prince and although there are many variations, the backbone remains the same. We have all learned these tales and at some point reread them for our children. We also realise that some of these stories may also need updating. 

At the same time, we are at a unique moment in time. In September 2015, world leaders signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global agreement is a game-changer. We are at a point in human development where the conventional way of viewing our world is no longer an option. Preserving our planet and ensuring that humankind as a species survives is no longer about rich countries helping poor countries or about developing a certain industry at a high environmental cost. It’s not even about targeting a certain problem like poverty or maternal mortality and focusing on one issue at a time. 

It is increasingly evident that we need more integrated approaches and a greater awareness that we are all sharing this planet and that if we manage it carefully, and sustainably, we, and the generations to come have a bright future ahead.

This book is about bringing traditional tales into one story under a new light. The tales come from different parts of the world and they are simultaneously intertwined with elements we have learned from other stories. In this eclectic mix, the predictable plots of the tales we know are transformed by modern day elements and challenges. The result is an exciting new story that collects and highlights elements that are part of our world today and that are linked to the the global challenges we face. 

The result is an excitinig new story that collects and highlights elements that are part of our world today and that are linked to the global challenges we face. The stories link to the different Sustainable Development Goals providing gateways for interactive online conversations between the readers, experts, specialists and public figures. The aim is to bring these issues to the forefront and invite people across generations to join an online discussion that concerns all of us.

As we embark on the challenge of meeting the Global Goals, we must redefine how we work together. This book is an effort to innovate using traditional storytelling to engage people around global development challenges and connect through conversation.

If we all join this collective effort to breathe life into these stories that carry timeless and precious lessons on how to preserve and save our planet, we can rest assured that we have taken a first step towards achieving these goals. 

This book has been conceived and created by the Perception Change Project under the Direction of the Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva. The team seeks to find creative ways of communicating big ideas in big ways and opening channels of discussion across diverse groups within and outside the United Nations system. 

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