This forward-thinking report from edge and story, commissioned by The British Council, builds on our 2020 Missing Pillar report, which explored culture’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The report is available to download below.

The 2022 UNESCO Mondiacult conference classified culture as a ‘global public good’, reinforcing culture’s position in the global development discourse that is expected to grow as we approach the end of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Framework. 

There are multiple perspectives on what role culture can or should play in global sustainable development, particularly in the post-2030 agenda. This report is an important contribution to that conversation, encompassing observation, provocation, and imagination. The report opens up questions about new frameworks to support collective action and encourages cultural organisations to consider not just their contribution to sustainable development, but the opportunity to be an engine for long-lasting change.

About the Report

In the 2020 publication The Missing Pillar - Culture’s Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the British Council sought to present relevant evidence of their programmes’ impact and to position culture as a missing pillar in the wider debate of culture’s role in processes of sustainable development. 

The response to that original Missing Pillar report and its resonance for a range of organisations prompted us to commission this further piece of research. This report is not only a dynamic follow up to our Missing Pillar report, it brings a cultural perspective to the debates about development initiated by 2015 World Development report 'Mind, Society and Behaviour'.  

Part one of this new report will look at more recent conversations in the culture and SDG field, exploring who talks – and who doesn’t – about culture in sustainable development, what ideas are being favoured, and what rationales tend to dominate the conversations.

Part two is an in-depth analysis of 10 British Council culture programmes and how they relate to the UN SDGs throughout their programme cycles, from design all the way to evaluation. The evidence will help us understand culture’s actual contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Part three questions whether the SDGs are the best framework for culture to align itself to, situates culture in various other development logics, and presents an alternative hybrid concept for cultural actors to consider when working in relation to sustainable development.

Watch The Missing Foundation event recording to learn more about the report.