Tie the G8 to a virtual promise

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date: 3 June 2008

embargo: for immediate release

Unions and campaign organisations under the banner of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty are using the campaign power of the web and virtual world Second Life? to call on the leaders of the G8 to meet their promises to fight poverty and inequality.

Every year on 7 July, the people of Japan celebrate the custom of Tanabata by making wishes for the coming year, and tying them to a bamboo tree. This July, leaders of eight of the world's wealthiest and most powerful nations - the G8 - will be meeting in Hokkaido, Japan.

To coincide with the G8, people across the globe are being invited to make a virtual Tanabata wish for immediate action on workers rights, education, health and HIV/AIDS, climate change and international aid. The wishes will be displayed online and presented to the Japanese Prime Minister before the G8 meetings begin.

Situated on Union Island (www.slunionisland.org), the Second Life home for trade unionists, is a giant virtual Tanabata tree, which shows the numbers of people making different wishes for the G8, as well as a list of the most recent to have added their names to the campaign. Users can also take an interactive Tanabata tree for their own space in Second Life, helping to spread the word amongst the virtual world's 13 million users.

Campaigners will also be hosting events under the giant tree in the run up to the G8 summit, to discuss the issues behind the campaign.

TUC Head of International Relations, Owen Tudor, said: 'Union Island is, like the unions who created it, a global phenomenon. With visitors from California to Mongolia, and from Norway to South Africa, it now offers the chance to take virtual action that results in real change. Trade unions share a common desire with development activists to see global action against poverty, and bringing this campaign into Second Life can send a new sort of message to world leaders.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- Find out how to visit the virtual island, and more background information on the project and Second Life at www.slunionisland.org

- The interactive Tanabata tree in Second Life was XML enabled by David Boelke of Second Life development company QA Computing.

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
John Wood E: jwood@tuc.org.uk SL: Johninnit Ni

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