SDGs and music: agents of change in action

The fifth edition of the SDG Global Festival of Action saw 20,000 people virtually gathered across Europe to discuss SDG trends as a way to create a response to a better recovery from the pandemic and share newly established practices.

One of the many sessions that took place at the Festival was the collaborative workshop entitled: Play Fair! Actioning Sustainability in the Music Industry. The workshop included a panel of international music experts who examined how the music industry could play a role in the implementation of the SDGs.

Shain Shapiro, the Group CEO of Sound Diplomacy and Executive Director of Centre for Music Ecosystems, hosted the workshop and stated that: “Music can play a role in the advancement of the SDGs and music can play a role in making the world a better place economically, socially, and culturally.”

Caroline Petit, Deputy Director of UNRIC, added that “the music industry is a strong network which connects people across generations and can make a difference to the advancement of the global goals”.

During the workshop the audience learned about the first-ever comprehensive SDG Music Guide. By the end of the day the Guide had been downloaded more than 300 times, thus proving the relevancy of the SDGs to the music industry and the important role music and musicians play in spreading awareness across all generations about the SDGs, thereby greatly contributing to a more sustainable world.

Guide to Music and SDGs

One of the examples outlined in the SDG Music Guide is ending hunger (SDG 2), where the music sector can contribute by raising awareness, redistributing food at music venues, and creating urban gardens at stadiums and concert halls.

The expert panellists were all prime examples of how powerful a partner the music sector is to the SDGs, as they have already been independently working in fields such as gender equality, education and life on land, and seeing results in their communities.

One of the participants, Jonathan Herzfeld, emphasized that the SDG message has not reached many of the world’s most marginalised communities and yet music is, and has been, an integral part of every single culture and is one of the foundations on which the SDGs can stand.

Ragnar Berthling, CEO of Musikcentrum Öst, added that music is a change-maker and can foster environments where active participants can learn from each other and create models of change that can be shared around the world.

The Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, Marina Ponti, concluded the workshop quoting the Japanese musician Miyavi by stating: “I don’t think music can change the world, but music can change people, and people can change the world.”


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