The Sydney Opera House on Monday officially became the first Australian arts center to commit to the United Nations’ (UN) Global Goals.
The venue, Australia’s leading cultural institution and one of the world’s most iconic buildings, says the decision will help “support inclusion, diversity, and equality, and safeguard the natural environment” ahead of the building’s 50th anniversary in 2023.
The Global Goals were agreed to by representatives from every government around the world in 2015 at the UN General Assembly in New York. The 17 goals cover different areas, including ending extreme poverty, addressing hunger, tackling climate change, and reducing inequality by 2030.
Beyond national governments, the UN also urges civil society organizations, the private sector, local authorities, and educational institutions to commit to achieving the goals.
Tonight we're lighting our eastern Bennelong sails to show our support for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Goals are an important call to action to address some of the most pressing social and environmental issues of our time. https://t.co/MxFEMgN2EFpic.twitter.com/1Nfs6XkoR6— Sydney Opera House (@SydOperaHouse) October 29, 2019
Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron revealed the venue had agreed to meet nine of the goals, including Goal 4 for quality education, Goal 10 for reduced inequalities, Goal 13 for climate action, and Goal 14 for life below water.
"The Opera House is committed to the ideals and values encapsulated in the Global Goals, which can only be achieved through global action,” Herron wrote in a press release. “The ambitious community plans released today outline how we will continue to support inclusion, diversity, and equality, and help safeguard our natural environment.”
Under the new commitment, the Opera House has refreshed its Environmental Action Plan.
The building will now aim to eliminate single-use plastic packaging, cut electricity use by 20%, halve office paper use, and recycle 85% of operational waste over the next three years.
These actions will help the Opera House achieve a six-star performance rating from the Green Building Council of Australia and ensure the venue meets its goal of a net positive environmental footprint.
The Opera House’s eastern sail was lit up at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, in the 17 colors of the Global Goals. Image: Sydney Opera House
Likewise, under Goal 10 for reduced inequalities, the Opera House has committed to take action on Indigenous representation and enhancing the building’s accessibility.
The venue has pledged to increase the celebration of Indigenous Australian cultures by “presenting works and stories that foster appreciation,” building equity through encouraging cultural competence in employees, and “creating an inclusive environment for First Nations people.”
The Opera House will also develop “new community engagement opportunities” for older Australians, individuals living with dementia, migrants, and refugees while providing additional assistance for employees and visitors with disabilities.
The Opera House’s commitment to the Global Goals was celebrated by New South Wales Arts Minister Don Harwin.
"As the symbol of modern Australia, the Opera House has an important role to play in inspiring the community,” he said in a media release. “It is wonderful that our most famous landmark is putting its support behind this global initiative to help achieve a more sustainable and fulfilling future for all.”
In honor of the new commitment, the Opera House’s eastern sail, which makes up the roof of the building, was lit up at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, in the 17 colors of the Global Goals.