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Museums and the Sustainable Development Goals
05.10.2019

New guide: Museums and the Sustainable Development Goals

Henry McGhie, founder of Curating Tomorrow, has launched a new guide for museums, galleries, the cultural sector and their partners on how they can contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs set an ambitious target, seeking to put the world on a path to a sustainable future by 2030.

The SDG agenda can be summarised as being made up of ‘five Ps’: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. The first three relate to the three dimensions of sustainability (social, environmental, economic), while peace and partnership enable and support the pursuit of sustainability:

People: to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.

Planet: to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.

Prosperity: to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social, and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.

Peace: to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence.

Partnership: to mobilise the means required to implement the 2030 Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.

Although published by the United Nations, the SDGs are not just for governments: they are an invitation to all sectors of society, in all places, to collaborate and participate in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Henry argues that museums have a key role to play in delivering the goals.

His new guide is therefore intended to help empower museums (small, large and of any kind, anywhere), museum workers, museum networks and their partners to contribute to achieving the goals. It tries to make it easy for museums to understand their place in the SDGs and how they can take them up in their work.

The guide outlines a six-step plan for museums to plan activity to support the SDGs and outlines seven key activities that align with the SDGs, mapping these against the 17 Goals and 169 targets. The six-step plan and seven key activities are scalable and can be applied to individual museum workers (in different roles), museums, role types, museum networks and the museums sector.

Download: Museums and the Sustainable Development Goals 2019

(Adapted from Henry’s blog, "Curating Tomorrow")

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