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Linking the Arts to Environment and Sustainable Development Issues

Case Studies

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
2011-2012 Anupama Sekhar Culture Department Connect2Culture Culture
Sustainable Development


In 2010, ASEF commissioned research to investigate good practices connecting the arts to initiatives tackling environmental sustainability issues in a number of Asian countries. Titled Linking the Arts to Environment and Sustainable Development Issues,  the research project aimed to carefully document case studies that can not only provide inspiration for networking and collaboration between Asia and Europe in this area but also aid policy making and planning.

The researchers examined initiatives by the cultural sector as well as by civil society organisations working on environmental issues in nine Asian countries. These investigations were conducted in two phases. The first phase consisted of a broad study which mapped initiatives within a country while the second phase delved deeper into  selected initiatives. They case studies based on considerations such as the sustainability of the projects as well as the importance of audience development. The researchers interviewed leaders of these initiatives in order to explore the issues and themes further.

You can read a selection of the profiles on, ASEF's cultural web portal:

The complete list of case studies will be published on 3 April 2012.

This research was part of the Connect2Culture Art and Environment Programme and was commissioned in conjunction with the dossier: Arts. Environment. Sustainability. How can Culture Make a Difference?

Project Updates

  • The seminar Culture and Sustainability in Rio+20 (19 June 2012) took place ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was organised by the Ministry of Culture of Brazil and the World Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments. Experts discussed how the Rio+20 Final Declaration should embrace a cultural dimension in formulating local, national and international strategies for sustainable development and that culture should be included as the fourth pillar.

    ASEF Cultural Exchange Deputy Director, Ms. Katelijn Verstraete, was invited to present ASEF’s ongoing work on connecting arts and sustainability.

    “Culture is a key driver in sustainable development, not just the fourth pillar of development,” commented Dr Keith Nurse, Director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services, University of the West Indies, Barbados. Dr Nurse was one of the speakers at the seminar. He further stressed the need to create new values around which we create the economy and society.

    All speakers called for a more proactive approach from the cultural sector to get the governments on the right side of the culture and sustainability debate: ‘culture should lead and change the discourse if we want real sustainable development’.

    Read more…

  • Case studies on art and environment

    Published on 02 Apr 2012

    Since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, civil society members have become increasingly active in the global dialogue on environmental issues. More recently, the cultural sector has begun to explore innovative ways to engage the pressing issues of environmental sustainability.

    The latest research from ASEF Linking the Arts to Environment and Sustainable Development, contains case studies from nine Asian countries, which serve as good practices in connecting the arts to initiatives tackling environmental sustainability issues. These case studies will inspire networking and collaborations between professionals in Asia and Europe and also to aid policymaking and planning.

    The projects range from creative interventions, public arts initiatives, to seminars and trainings. The focus was on examples that went beyond merely employing the arts as tools for information dissemination to initiatives that envisaged art as a catalyst to stimulate discussion and foster change by posing relevant questions.

    Researchers interviewed leaders of these initiatives to explore the issues and themes in depth. Selection of case studies considered elements such as the sustainability of projects as well as the importance of audience development.

    The dossier is an outcome of the Connect2Culture programme which engaged over 100 creative professionals on environmental topics. 

Funded by the European Union
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