World Stamps

Thomas the Tank Engine chugs onto new UNPA issue

May 3, 2021, 9 PM

By Molly Goad

The United Nations Postal Administration is issuing a pane of 10 stamps and labels Sept. 12 featuring everyone’s favorite train engine to bring attention to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals educational program.

That’s right, Thomas & Friends have teamed — or should we say steamed — up with the United Nations to teach youngsters about six of the 17 goals via videos, parent tips and activities at

The six goals will also be referenced in new storylines for the Thomas & Friends animated television show, and the train’s latest movie: Big World! Big Adventures! The Movie. According to the Thomas & Friends website, “For the first time in the series’ history, Thomas leaves Sodor to travel the world, experiencing and discovering new cultures and countries, including China, India and Australia!”

The initiative that is being intertwined into Thomas storylines began in 2015, when countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development  Goals. The 17 goals were agreed upon by all 193 UN Member States in a global effort to end poverty, ensure prosperity and protect the planet.

The following list contains the 17 goals, with the six featured in the Thomas & Friends stamp pane listed in bold:

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms
  • Goal 2: Zero hunger
  • Goal 3: Health
  • Goal 4: Quality education
  • Goal 5: Gender equality
  • Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
  • Goal 7: Energy
  • Goal 8: Economic growth
  • Goal 9: Infrastructure, industrialization
  • Goal 10: Inequality
  • Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
  • Goal 13: Climate change
  • Goal 14: Oceans
  • Goal 15: Life on land
  • Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Goal 17: Partnerships

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The program includes kids-appropriate conversation starters to get children thinking about these big-picture ideas, including: Should we throw away old toys?; What should we do with them?; What would happen if we didn’t have trees?; How do the people move around in cities?; Where does water come from?; What happens if our water is dirty?; and more. 

Nine stamp designs depict Thomas and his friends in scenarios that coincide with the six goals. The 10th stamp shows Thomas and Nia — a new female a new tank engine from Kenya — in the center of the initiative’s rainbow logo. All stamps have the $1.15 denomination in the upper left corner, and "UN 2018" in the bottom right.

The 10 labels are se-tenant (side-by-side) with the stamps. Six of the labels each show one of the six goals with its icon. Two labels have a smiling Thomas train, and one features a winking Nia. The final label includes the “Sustainable Development Goals” text on a white background.

The sheet is $14.95. For more information, visit the website; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.