It’s finally starting to be accepted that climate change is not only an environmental or humanitarian problem,
but also an economic and cultural one.
David Wallace-Wells

The 2019 Dialogues Eduard Miralles will be devoted to thinking and understanding what the world of culture is doing in Catalonia, Spain and Europe to contribute to the global challenge of sustainability. If you search for synonyms of “sustainable” in the Catalan dictionary, you will find concepts such as feasible, reasonable or viable. What is the relationship with culture?

As David Wallace-Wells points out, the definition of sustainability, as agreed upon by the international community, links environmental health and the protection of biodiversity with social justice, equity and inclusion. It refers to individual opportunities, but also to well-being and capacity development, and implies a sense of global citizenship based on human rights and dignity, democracy and good governance.

In one of her latest conferences Eulàlia Bosch wondered: How have we made un-sustainability so sustainable? How have we structured our ways of living and interacting basing our judgements on assumptions that are so poorly grounded on the logic of feasibility or viability? Where does this trend of not thinking about our actions’ impact come from? When was the value of immediate and compulsory use of news, information and products, also cultural, socially imposed and quickly discarded as non-recyclable waste? What has led us to largely rejecting not only the classics and the things that endure as well as history and traditional knowledge but also the relationship with everything that is more natural and essential?

Culture is not extrinsic to the acquisition of values. It is its structuring element, the one that shapes the narrative that justifies this way of living through multiple languages. At the same time, culture is a specific sector in which people work creating, producing and managing, distributing, exhibiting, training, educating or researching. In general, they do this in a very un-sustainable way here and everywhere else.

But it is precisely from culture from where we will be able to think about this reality, analyse it and, if necessary, change it. This is exactly what the global and local agendas focused on sustainability are not keeping in mind or do not know how to take into consideration.

We are talking about the public policies that will have to be derived from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals which has been agreed upon by the international community and that, for the first time in history, has generated a certain universal consensus. All the countries and corners of the world know (although some deny it) that it is necessary and urgent to act. They know about the scientifically proven severity of the global health of both our planet and societies. Facts prove this daily and the countdown has begun.

For many years Interarts has argued that public policies are, also and above all, cultural policies. Gradually, international acknowledgement has grown and today there are many entities and people that work to make everyone understand the essential relationships between the economy, environment, education, urban planning, agriculture, social welfare… and culture. This is already very clear in the 2030 Agenda.

In these dialogues we want to present the work currently undertaken by the Commission on Culture of United Cities and Local Governments – UCLG, Culture Action Europe and the Spanish Network for Sustainable Development – REDS.

We will also listen to the activities undertaken in Catalonia by the National Council of Culture and the Arts – CoNCA, the 2030 Agenda Commissioner of the Barcelona City Council and CIDOB’s ‘Global Cities’ project.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Gemma Carbó, President of the Board of the Interarts Foundation.