Culture as the cross-cutting axis of the SDGs

SDGs and culture

It is possible you may not identify culture and sustainability, but there is an intrinsic relationship between both aspects. For example:

  • The cultural system is integrated in an environment with a series of needs. In addition, it must help to its proper conservation and underline the importance of the climate emergency.
  • In Agenda 2030 it underscores how, thanks to culture, it is easier to adopt a global point of view about sustainable development.
  • Culture, as such, is related to and depends on systems such as health or education, inter alia. If they all take the environment into consideration, the result will be more satisfactory.
  • Any cultural service must include, in its initial design, structure and functionality, aspects related to sustainability.

What does SDG 17 indicate?

This is the goal that is most related to the cultural system. Its basic principles are summarised in the following factors:

  • Improving cooperation between different countries, facilitates access to culture.
  • Promoting cultural technologies and systems that enable developed countries to help those that are in a development stage.
  • Creating a technology bank to promote its use and make sustainability culture known.

How can the cultural system achieve the different SDGs?

The common denominator of any of the actions must be the total sustainability of the sector. It is important to value that:

  • Each system entails many actors whose action has to be coordinated.
  • A global plan must be drawn up to achieve the goals of the quality education proposed (SDG 4), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), reduced inequalities (SDG 10) and everything related to peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16).

Key for sustainable cultural action

In order to achieve the sustainable development goals from cultural action, as UNESCO indicates, what available options have to be evaluated:

  • Those related to material heritage. Such is the case of libraries, museums, archives, archaeology and monuments.
  • Those that manage intangible heritage. The study of tradition, festivities, handicrafts, etc.
  • Performing arts such as painting, sculpture and photography.
  • Musical arts, cinema, literature and audiovisual culture.
  • Architecture and design, which should not break the natural balance of the more direct environment.
  • Digital and communication media.
  • Advertising (particularly, the advertising carried out in physical media which could alter the ecosystem surrounding it).

Depending on the corresponding option, the system of choice must have the following properties:

  • Generating individual or group skills that connect with the cultural and historical roots of each community.
  • Selecting cultural management that adapts to the sustainable development indicated.
  • The system contributing to maintain the balance with the environment and promoting respect for the environment.
  • Guaranteeing cultural rights, always respecting the free and cultural expression of every person.
  • Promoting solidarity and commitment when defending fundamental rights, as explained in SDG 17.

Ultimately, culture and the SDGs go hand in hand when designing cultural plans and activities that bear in mind the environment in which they are implemented. It’s all about meeting the goals set out in Agenda 2030 and enabling each cultural action to not forget about the importance of sustainability.