Just before the new seasons riots started in earnest, an exhibition was launched outside the UNESCO HQ in Paris. It sets out to explain the 17 sustainable development goals to a global audience and proposes actions we can all take to achieve them.
The exhibition, Whole Earth? A Citizen's guide to the Sustainable Development Goals (and how to save the world), has been designed by Mark Edwards, of the Hard Rain Project, with the support of UNESCO, the UK Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, and the UK National Commission for UNESCO. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said:
"Our message is that building a fairer world and protecting our planet starts with daily actions that can transform our common future, and this exhibition inspires viewers to question and be engaged.”
In an email to everyone who was at the December St George's House event on the Goals, Mark wrote:
"The launch of WHOLE EARTH? by UNESCO was not so much a celebration as a warning about the extraordinary challenge we face. You’ll notice a question mark in the title. Will we - can we - be brave and bold enough to meet the sustainable development goals signed up to by 193 governments? Are we evolved enough to take an extraordinary step toward a world where human systems and natural systems are aligned to create a whole earth – whole in the senses both of unified and healed.
Will governments and their voters really take this opportunity to transform society and underpin security for ourselves and future generations? Or will we be satisfied with gesture politics, setting goals that sound good but which we and our leaders have no intention of meeting. It’s an open question.
Let’s remember that none of the Millennium Development Goals were reached globally. Progress was made, but this time we have to do better or fail future generations. That would be our greatest failure. It would be unforgivable.
Meeting the goals will require spectacular global co-operation by governments and the active support and encouragement of citizens, schools and universities around the world. We will send a copy of the exhibition to every prime minister and president, a gentle reminder of the goals they or their predecessors signed up to. I may then go into hiding for a bit but I’m also working with a new generation of singer songwriters on a concert tour with music, theatre and events that reflect the SDGs."
Mark's final comment was that it was misleading to refer to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Technically, he said, they are owned by the 193 countries that signed up to them.
Nice point, I thought, but referring to them as UN goals will provide countries with bucket loads of excuses when they're not met. I don't expect to hear a change in terminology any time soon.