A close up image of a pair of hands, which are now a deep dark blue from working with natural dyes as part of the weaving process.
Crafting Futures in the Silalang sub-district near Pua, Thailand. This area is surrounded by forested mountains which provide communities and women artisans with the source materials for their natural dyes.  ©

Simon Mills

The Missing Pillar Talks are now available to watch online. Find out more in the dropdown menus below. 

The Missing Pillar Talks is a series of events on culture's contribution to Sustainable Development. They respond to the recommendations of our recent report, and invite speakers to respond to key questions about where we are going, who plays what role, and what actions can be taken towards sustainable development.

The first talk 'Heritage and sustainable development – learning from the past, shaping the future' looked through a heritage lens to current thinking and practice, inclusive and holistic approaches, Covid-19 recovery and climate action. 

The second talk 'Working together – culture, place and partnership for sustainable development' took place in May and focused in on the connections between cultural practice and policymaking at local, regional and national levels.

The Missing Pillar Talks are brought to you by the British Council in partnership with the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Culture Committee of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). 

Follow the Talks online using the hashtag #TheMissingPillar.

The Missing Pillar Global Talks: Common Sense and The Community
9-10 March 2022, 13:00-17:00 GMT

Find out more and register 

Working together – culture, place and partnership, Monday 24 May 2021

Working together – culture, place and partnership for sustainable development 
2pm to 3.30pm BST on Monday 24 May 2021 

Watch the Talk online 

In this Missing Pillar Talk we focused in on questions about how people, organisations and decision makers can work together in pursuit of sustainable development through culture: from grass roots to policy to place. Where are we going, who plays what role, and what actions can be taken?


  • Commissioner Sophie Howe, Wellbeing of Future Generations, Wales
  • David Wilson, Bradford UNESCO Creative City of Film
  • Claire McColgan, Culture Liverpool
  • David Bryan, independent consultant and Chair of Battersea Arts Centre, Brixton House and Voluntary Arts

Breakout rooms

1. Art on the streets and the Sustainable Development Goals with Charlotte Pyatt

What are some of the values, opportunities and obstacles for local community practice connecting with the SDGs? In this breakout room, Charlotte Pyatt will share practical case studies of her experiences with artist led project Splash and Burn, Toward2030, a project aligning street art with the SDGs in the City, and connecting with the Bristol Voluntary Local Review. Join the session to explore street art through the lens of sustainable development.

2. The psychology of cities and places: how can culture help people connect and recover? with Chris Murray. 

This breakout session will look at the relationship between citizens, place and mental and emotional wellbeing.  It will ask: What are the psychological impacts of Covid on people’s relationship to place, and how can culture help to rebuild these, contributing to SDG 11 “making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” in a post-Covid world.

One way of gaining an insight into the identity and character of a town or city is to look at it as if it were a person.  As part of their urban psychology work, Chris Murray and Charles Landry wondered what would happen if a city could take a personality test, would it be introvert or extrovert, agreeable, nurturing or compartmentalised? It is not meant to give a definitive description of a place, but can be an interesting and different way into a conversation about where people live and work. Try out the city personality test here

Heritage and sustainable development, Monday 29 March

Heritage and sustainable development – learning from the past, shaping the future
2pm to 3.30pm BST on Monday 29th March 2021

Watch the Talk online

In this Missing Pillar Talk we focused on sustainable development through a heritage lens, looking at current thinking and practice, inclusive and holistic approaches, Covid-19 recovery and climate action.  


  • Stephen Stenning – Head, Arts and Society, British Council 
  • Henry McGhie – Henry runs the museum consultancy Curating Tomorrow, working on sustainability issues, including the SDGs, climate action and biodiversity conservation.  
  • Aindrea Emelife – Aindrea is a 27-year-old art historian, writer, independent curator, author and presenter from London. Aindrea is part of the new Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm and is working on two upcoming books: A Little History of Public Art and Art Can Change the World: A Manifesto.  
  • Helen Maclagan OBE – Helen is the outgoing Non Executive Director for Culture at the UK National Commission for UNESCO, with a particular interest in the role of Culture in Sustainability. She was lead for the UKNC Board on the recent conference Heritage for Our Sustainable Future.
  • George Harris –  George is a freelance creative producer in Outdoor Arts and Co-Director of Tin Shed Theatre Company in Wales.  

with guest breakout facilitator 

  • Kate Pugh OBE FSA – Kate has recently been appointed as Non Executive Director for Culture at the UK National Commission for UNESCO. She is also the Chair of the Cultural Protection Fund Advisory Board.

By heritage, we refer to the broadest definition of heritage, encompassing tangible and intangible: the natural environment, sites and monuments, cultural and artistic practice, place and communities, and cultural narratives. After each talk, everyone was invited to join smaller breakout rooms to go deeper into topics and discuss questions raised through the events.

Did you miss the live event? The event recording is available to watch on YouTube.

Heritage breakout rooms

  • Stories told through research, impact and evidence with Kate Pugh, UK National Commission for UNESCO
  • Climate change: what’s heritage got to do with it? With Henry McGhie, Curating Tomorrow
  • Inclusive approaches to heritage with George Harris and Aindrea Emelife 

About the talks – what to expect and how to join in

How can I book a place? 
Watch this space for news of the third Missing Pillar Talk in the series.
The talks are free, but capacity is limited. We recommend that you sign up in advance to be sure of a place. When you register, we’ll ask you some questions to ensure you get the most out of the event. We’ll also ask you to choose a breakout room.  

What is the format of the talks? 
Each talk includes a one hour panel conversation followed by a 30 minute, interactive group breakout discussion. They take place on Zoom.  

Are the talks interactive and how can I ask questions?  
You can share links to your projects when you register to the event. You will be able to send comments and questions to the panel during the talk, which will be picked up by a moderator. The breakout rooms are interactive spaces, and you are welcome to ask questions and share comments via the chat and/or audio if you would like to. 

BSL and captioning 
Each panel conversation will be captioned in English and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted. For any of the breakouts you can request BSL interpretation by emailing cultureanddevelopment@britishcouncil.org.

I have a question that isn't answered here. Who can I contact?  
Contact the Culture and Development team via cultureanddevelopment@britishcouncil.org.

Why culture and why the Sustainable Development Goals?

Why culture and why the Sustainable Development Goals? 

The United Nations Agenda 2030 sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all 193 members (including the UK) to meet by 2030. They are interconnected and promote the interests of people, planet and prosperity, supported by peace and justice, and delivered in partnership, from SDG1 No Poverty through to SDG17 Partnerships for the Goals. The SDGs focus on the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development. Culture is the missing pillar: it is part of the solution and can make positive change reality. 

The Missing Pillar Talks respond to our recent report: The Missing Pillar – Culture’s Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They take forward its recommendations on advocacy, evidence and access, and will consider the gap between policy and the practice.Through each event, we will explore where these connections are being made, who the different stakeholders are, as well as where the opportunities lie for arts, heritage and culture to play a role in shaping a sustainable future, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The SDGs provide a framework that can support and enrich these sectors and encourage local action through shared global goals. 

See also