Last year we joined the United Nations’ SDG Media Compact. We were the only music company to sign it, joining a number of television stations and media outlets as signatories. Our commitment has been to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals in everything we do. Our events are gender equal, plastic free and sustainable, and we’re working to make them meat free. We are committed to gender and pay equality. We’re doing all we can to ensure our offices are as sustainable as possible. We carbon offset flights. And we’re working on ways to bring the music industry and the SDGs together.
This is the bare minimum. Every day we need to do better. We’re facing a climate emergency and I recognise that every time I get on a plane - something I do far more than most - I’m contributing to climate armageddon. I also recognise that all of us, wherever we are, live within our own individual hypocrisies. I aim to be as carbon neutral as possible, but I fly all over the world. And so on. We all do this. But this is no excuse.
Working in music gives us an incredible gift, selling our universal language. We all speak music. And yet, our business has little involvement with another global language, the one of sustainability created through the SDGs. These 17 goals and 169 targets have been ratified by 193 countries. The aim is that by 2030, the world is a much better place for all of us.
These are lofty ambitions, but we all must try, everyday, to be better. And given our platform with music and our work with global cities and organisations, we want to create a better structure to engage the music industry together with the SDGs. Our plan, starting at Reeperbahn Festival this year, is to develop an SDG Music Compact, and launch it in 2020.
The UN has signed Compacts with the fashion and media sectors, among others. The Compact is an overarching commitment, industry wide, to the SDGs. And in music, despite little correlation or collaboration with the SDGs, we’re doing as well in combating our global challenges as any sector. Both Live Nation and AEG have committed to renewables and removing plastic. The Keychange program is one of the most successful in any sector to increasing gender equality. Many festivals are powering stages through waste and many countries operate fair play schemes, to ensure creators earn what they deserve. But there’s only a few examples of our universal language - music - working with the universal language of sustainability - the SDGs. Musicians perform as part of Global Citizen, or at other climate action conferences. But these initiatives are few and far between. The music ecosystem as a whole is not tied to the SDGs.
So here’s the plan. Through a landmark partnership with the Reeperbahn Festival and their Creative Solutions Summit, we’re organising the first ever Sustainable Development Goals & Music Conference, on September 20th. We have speakers confirmed from across the music industry - including Julie’s Bicycle and Live Nation - alongside SDG representatives from the UN and EU. On top of that, for the whole duration of the festival, Reeperbahn will also host the SDG Interactive Wall, a massive and special installation to understand and engage with the Sustainable Development Goals. Read more on the event here.
We’ve also confirmed additional programming at WOMEX and with a number of partners, are developing the wording of the Compact, to begin to seek signatories in early 2020. Our partners include Music Declares Emergency, along with the UN itself.
In 2020, we will launch the EU wide Music Compact in Europe - a set of commitments and programming that brings music in line with the SDGs, to demonstrate our leadership and positive impact. This will follow in 2021 with a global launch of the SDG Music Compact.
Our focus is to ensure the music industry commits to gender equality, climate action, sustainable cities and fair pay. But also, and importantly, our leadership in music must be included at the highest levels of debate around the world, rather than us simply being entertainment at the end of a conference.
If every government around the world took music seriously as the economic giant it can be, we can create a new generation of creative entrepreneurs. If we can make festivals carbon neutral, then our insights can be taken off the stage and into our towns and cities. If we included music in global development conversations, we can ensure music ecosystems are being developed in emerging economies, which can reduce poverty, increase literacy and promote equity. To do this, we must first align the SDGs and music. This starts at Reeperbahn Festival. Join us.