Shapiro was particularly perplexed by the lack of music in discussions around the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a selection of 17 intertwined aims to undertake such systemic problems like poverty, gender inequality, climate change and lack of access to quality instruction included in the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (embraced by all U.N. member states in 2015).
“In most countries, governments choose how they’re going to spend money based on SDG targets and indicators,” says Shapiro. “So the way to get music projects embedded into government policy is to embed it into SDG policy.”
Unfortunately, he found there was”no framework to engage with music” in the U.N.
Shapiro’s first significant stab at rectifying the issue came recently with the”Guide to Music and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” a report he and his Sound Diplomacy team wrote with input 10 U.N. bureaus and campaigns as well as a host of private industry partners such as the International Music Council, the Association of Independent Music, Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA), Music Venue Trust along with Primavera Sound. The 55-page document, which required nearly a year to complete, outlines”crowdsourced examples” from across the planet demonstrating how music-based policies can donate to SDG initiatives.
Released by the Shapiro-founded nonprofit Center for Music Ecosystems and released by the U.N., the report comes with a record of 10 key music-based actions governments can use in pursuit of this SDGs, including making music education compulsory and available to all; committing to gender equality when public money is invested in audio; working with the audio industry to make live events carbon positive; and ensuring that the inclusion of audio in all health and social care policies.
The guide was released Wednesday (March 24) at the U.N.’s SDG Global Festival of Action, an yearly event designed to”inspire, mobilize and connect people and organizations” in support of addressing the SDGs.
The report arrives a long time following Sound Diplomacy was invited, in 2018, to combine the SDG Media Compact, a U.N.-convened alliance of media and entertainment firms tasked with amplifying and inspiring action across the SDGs. After coming aboard, Shapiro committed to developing a guide on how music-focused policies might help reach SDG targets.
Shapiro and his group at Sound Diplomacy composed the initial draft of this report , setting a goal of being”geographically, racially and orientationally diverse.” He then worked together with other U.N. bureaus, such as U.N. Global Communications, to refine the concept of this guide, which went through a series of edits with input from his U.N. and private sector partners.
Nanette Bradley, leader of strategic communications campaigns at U.N. HQ who has worked tirelessly to help raise Shapiro’s assignment, says music has the capacity to play a substantial role in fostering awareness of the SDGs globally. “The reach of the music industry is so enormous,” Bradley says. “It’s not only a force to reckon with in and by itself…it has a very special place because of the relationship between artists and audiences and because of the amplification role that the music industry has or can have.”
Shapiro expects the report will eventually cultivate a greater institutional understanding of the role music can play in making the world a better location, leading to increased investment in musicians and music on a global scale.
“We tend to prioritize the internal value of music, and we just take the external value of music for granted,” he says. “We don’t actually think about what a world would be like if music didn’t exist.”
You may download the complete report here.