Applying the SDG's to the Entertainment Industry

As we all strive for meaningful actions in our work and daily lives to combat global challenges like climate change or environmental degradation, frameworks like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a unifying framework for action at all levels. 

“The [SDG’s] aim to transform our world. They are a call to action to end poverty and inequality, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy health, justice and prosperity.”

World Health Organization

What are the SDG’s?

The SDG’s were created by the United Nations in 2015 when world leaders came together to agree to a historic global agenda to secure a healthy, thriving planet, in which no one was left behind, by 2030.  The 17 interconnected goals address global challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. Roles and actions for governments, civil society, and the private sector are outlined for each goal and progress is monitored regularly.  

Countries are incorporating the SDGs into their plans and policies to guide development priorities and the business community is encouraged to integrate the goals into their social governance strategies.

SDGs and the Entertainment Industry.

In recognition of the entertainment sector’s ability to inform and influence societal changes, the U.N. has called on the media and entertainment sectors to support the SDG’s through the “Media Compact” which aims to leverage media and entertainment companies to advance and accelerate progress towards the goals. The SDG Media Compact began with 31 founding media and entertainment companies and has grown into a powerful alliance of almost 400 members around the world, spanning 160 countries on five continents, with a combined audience of about 2 billion people worldwide.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have several implications for cultural sectors. From the perspective of content, the expansive nature of the SDGs means that any of them may be relevant for a production.  Exploring the goals from the viewpoint of storytelling may inspire writers or research teams in finding interesting avenues to explore that also support the global goals, even if the content is not directly about environmental issues. For example, a documentary about the justice system could explore SDG 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” to find facts and analysis about armed conflicts and their impact on people, and connect with efforts to advance this goal around the world.  A high-stakes medical drama series about might find inspiration in Goal #3 Health. A children’s animation may advance Goal #4: Education, Goal #5 Women’s Empowerment, or others.

From the perspective of physical production, all productions can advance Goal #13: Climate Action, Goal 12: Sustainable Production and Consumption and Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and perhaps others.

By incorporating SDGs into our operations and our content,  industry not only contributes to goals but also sets an example for responsible storytelling that resonates with audiences worldwide. Through these goals our sector not only plays a role in driving this beneficial transformation but also sets an example by incorporating sustainability, into both creative endeavours and business strategies paving the way for others to follow.

Further reading

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

SDG Media Compact