On 2 August 2015, the United Nations 193-member states agreed on an agenda for the world’s sustainable development over the next 15 years, seeking to end poverty, achieve gender equality, inclusive and quality education for all and ensure food security in every corner of the globe by 2030.
“Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” replaces the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of the year and comprise 17 goals, which specify 169 targets. The SDG targets must now be formally adopted by member states at a special UN summit from 25-27 September in New York. Implementation of the sustainable development agenda will begin on 1 January 2016.
According to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the goals “address the requirements for all humanity to be able to live decent lives free from poverty, hunger and inequality, with all men and women, girls and boys able to develop their full potential,” (U.N. press release, “Member States lauded for reaching agreement on new UN sustainable development agenda”).
Unfortunately, the 17 goals, as published in U.N.’s website, do not cite culture as a specific goal – a missed opportunity to understand culture as key to sustainable development.
Culture Action Europe, together with other leading international cultural networks (International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies, (IFACCA), Agenda 21 for culture – UCLG’s Committee on Culture, International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD), Arterial Network, International Music Council (IMC), International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and RED Latinoamericana de Arte y Transformación Social) had campaigned to include culture as a sustainable development goal. You can read more about this campaign here.
However, we shall now promote and develop culture’s recognized role as an element in furthering these SDGs, as can be read here:
Preamble 36. We pledge to foster inter-cultural understanding, tolerance, mutual respect and an ethic of global citizenship and shared responsibility. We acknowledge the natural and cultural diversity of the world and recognize that all cultures and civilizations can contribute to, and are crucial enablers of, sustainable development.
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all:
4.7: By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.