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globalgoals.hamburg : background and motivation

When the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 the year 2030 seemed far away. In exactly 15 years the goals are set to have contributed substantially towards ending poverty, discrimination, destruction, violence, climate change and unequal access to resources on a global and local scale. They are ambitious and they need to be. The implementation of new policies, short and long term strategies and particularly guarantees of access to equal rights and participation are essential to achieving the goals. At the same time a critical view is called for, as the goals are still based on models of economic growth that lie at the core of the problems that they intend to address.

In order to make the 17 SDGs known to the public and take them out to the communities for debate and participation a new project was initiated in the city of Hamburg. “globalgoals.hamburg” was started by two local global education specialists, Friderike Seithel and Liz Kistner.

The move towards a more socially just and ecologically responsible system for sustainable development is essentially a cultural task and poses a challenge for society as a whole – including government and non-government organizations. Art and creative formats were chosen because sustainable development demands this – and art can respond by developing comprehensive ideas and visions, transcending boundaries, showing contradiction, by rearranging forces, by innovation as well as allowing for irrational and ambivalent elements. Art can be a catalyst for unbiased and unconventional views, which are certainly needed in the debate around global sustainability goals. This is what the initiators of the project “globalgoals.hamburg” have in mind. Discussion and debate, planning and implementation are encouraged to enter universities, city halls, schools and institutions, as well as the streets and parks of a city that is experiencing the dynamics and tensions of global conflict.

The first large painting will be mounted in a highly frequented public space (Neuer Kamp 32, 20357 Hamburg) at the end of June. It was designed in a discussion process and finally created by the artist Eckart Keller. It takes up SDG 1: End Poverty – just before leaders of the economically most powerful countries meet for the G20 summit in the city of Hamburg in July.

In an interview the artist states that “…given the complexity of the issue one could not simply create an image of poor people. This is what the media do all the time. It was important to explore what the underlying causes for poverty are and what can be done to end these. … 80% of people affected by hunger and extreme poverty are living outside of the cities. The ideal that is illustrated in the painting is based on mixed crop and high diversity. This kind of permaculture could provide self-sufficiency. What we see instead is the destruction of diversity, for e.g. glyphosate, monoculture, seed monopoly, land grabbing and other destructive strategies in the name of progress. … This painting also relates to the context of the G20 summit. I am very pleased that it will be mounted in Karolinenviertel. I think people here feel similarly that the strategies to end poverty in fact exacerbate the problem.”

The project globalgoals.hamburg intends to work towards creating art work around all 17 SDGs in the city of Hamburg. It encourages participation and discussion and wishes to include schools, communities, professionals, individuals, artists and politicians alike. Further reading material is available in the blog.

The project team, Friderike Seithel and Liz Kistner, can be contacted at:
sdg-wandbild@umdenken-boell.de