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|Born||1973 (age 47–48)|
|Alma mater||University of Amsterdam|
Mark Woerde (1973) is a well-known Dutch former advertising man who has shifted his focus to using his creativity to make the world a better place. He founded LetsHeal, an independent not-for-profit think & do tank that focuses on protecting Mother Earth and her inhabitants. A change of perspective; since the scope of his work is now directed towards real-world social issues instead of being centered around the promotion of a brand or a client. LetsHeal’s method involves radical, creative interventions that yield large impact. Hence, Woerde has got to and influenced billions of people, though he himself is mostly active behind the scenes.
Apart from the large impact he has in this indirect way, Woerde is still actively in contact with his former peers in the creative industry, calling upon them to use their talent for good.. To do so, the former advertising man is often found in the media, and he gives guest lectures all over the world. In 2000, Woerde co-founded the renowned Dutch advertising agency Lemz, which became part of Havas Group in 2016. This transition put Woerde in a position where he could leave the advertising company and focus solely on LetsHeal.
Woerde was the driving force behind the success of Neighbor Day (Burendag), an early prosocial activity to stimulate social cohesion. It was developed by Woerde and his partners at advertising agency Lemz; Peter de Lange and Remco Marinus for coffee brand Douwe Egberts. Neighbor Day was started in 2006 and has evolved into an annual tradition in the Netherlands. Neighbor Day inspires people to look after their neighbors, spending time together and making their neighborhood even more beautiful. After three years, Woerde managed Neighbor Day to earn the participation of the Dutch Royal Family and the Oranje Fonds.
In 2014, Woerde's dream to set a worldwide, radical example of how creativity can make this world a better place was realized. He initiated and realized a two year covert operation to put Webcam Child Sex Tourism on the agenda of politicians and police forces all over the world and dedicated the initiative to Terre des Hommes. Tens of thousands of children in developing countries have to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam and predators from other countries direct the children and pay. Proactive policing is the solution that Woerde and his team found and aimed to promote. To illustrate how big the problem is and how viable the solution, Woerde decided to track down and identify 1,000 predators from over 65 countries with his team, handed them over to Interpol and demanded to patrol the websites were Webcam Child Sex Tourism takes place by hundreds of thousands of offenders.
Over one billion people have seen the operation in the evening news. Sweetie, the virtual girl that the team developed to track down the predators became the icon of the initiative. Many children in developing countries were rescued and laws were changed. After receiving a letter of recognition from the United Nations, Woerde and his team admitted to the creative industry that they were behind this initiative. Woerde decided to give one public interview to the popular TV show Humberto Tan’s RTL Late Night to explain the intervention and to make clear that he was no longer involved in Terre des Hommes, Sweetie or police activities.
In the video appeal, each of the leaders contributed a personal statement for the exclusive purpose of creating this joint appeal.
- Ayatollah Al-Milani advises people to make friends with followers of all religions.
- Patriarch Bartholomew calls on the world to “recognize the beauty of God in every living human being”.
- Pope Francis and Rabbi Abraham Skorka demonstrate how their religious experiences have been enriched by their interfaith friendship.
- Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawki Allam stresses not to focus on differences between religious groups.
- The Dalai Lama calls for a deepening of spiritual friendship.
- Archbishop of the Church of Sweden Antje Jackelén stresses the importance for society: “This should start a process that will take prejudices away and where new insights and hope is born.”
- The Archbishop of Canterbury adds that “It’s not complicated, start with sharing what we all share, which is the pleasure of conversation.”
The video appeal was seen by an estimated 300 million people in the news and carried forward by local religious communities.
Mark Woerde in the media
- "Golden UN/RFBF Global Business & Interfaith Peace medal". Twitter.
- "MENSCHEN & WIRTSCHAFT Sweetie ist überall | F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung". www.genios.de.
- Sachs, MaryLee. "The Year of Independents At Cannes". Forbes.
- "Zo'n 1,2 miljoen Nederlanders vieren Burendag". Algemeen Dagblad.
- 'Girl' used to find pedophiles online - CNN Video
- "Computer-generated 'Sweetie' catches online predators". BBC News.
- RTL Late Night • Voor Mark Woerde was 'Sweetie' een missie (in Nederlands)
- "World's Top Religious Leaders Issue Rare Joint Appeal". HuffPost.