Since member states of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, has continued to highlight the role of youth in the implementation of the global goals. The Centre has remodelled its school outreach activities to be youth-focused and SDGs-centred. Of note was the just concluded Arts4SDGs competition in Lagos State and the roll out of the second phase by 1 November 2017 in Ogun State, South-West Nigeria. Arts4SDGs is a campaign that promotes the SDGs amongst Secondary School students using creative arts. It requires the students to express their understanding of SDGs in artistic forms or in poetry.
The competition which was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria in collaboration with Lagos State Ministry of Education and Tender Arts Nigeria, started earlier in the year among the over 600 public secondary schools in Lagos State and a few private ones. It reached the climax on Thursday 9 October 2017 with an Exhibition of outstanding works as well as award of certificates to all students who participated in the competition. The event also featured the unveiling of SDGs theme song titled, “One Planet” initiated by UNIC but composed and rendered by Nigeria’s multi-talented singer, Seyi Ajayi.
Speaking at the Arts4SDGs Exhibition and Certificates Award ceremony, the Director of UNIC Lagos Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, explained that Arts4SDGs aimed to create awareness of the SDGs among children and the youth; and raise young advocates to inspire positive actions for sustainable development.
“Arts4SDGs is about viewing the SDGs from the lenses of an artist. Students were asked to interpret any of the 17 SDGs in artistic forms. The works of arts the Students submitted were creative and instructive.” He said, “There is a particular one that depicts Goal 2, ‘Zero Hunger’ with a plastic plate containing real food stuffs while a fork and a knife are arranged on each side. The message is clear: No one should go hungry. Let everyone have food on the table.”
Mr Kayanja thanked the Lagos State Government for its support, “especially in sharing the Arts4SDGs communication materials to all schools in the State which was a critical success factor.”
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of Tender Arts Nigeria, Mr Adekunle Adewale, explained that “We believe images are powerful to convey message beyond words. One image is more powerful than a thousand words. This is the main reason we are partnering UNIC to promote the use of arts to SDGs.
Dignitaries in attendance include Ambassador Ayo Olukanni Nigeria’s former diplomat to Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji Island; the President of Society of Nigerian Artists, Mr.Oliver Enwonwu; the Chairman, Lagos State Council For Arts and Culture, Mrs Polly Alakija; the Curator, Rele Art Gallery, Ms Adenrele Sonariwo and Representatives of Lagos State Ministry of Education.
The high point of the ceremony was the decoration of Seyi Ajayi as a Champion of SDGs by the Director of UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Mr Kayanja.
The second phase of the Arts4SDGs campaign which is in collaboration with the Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, kicks off on 1 November 2017. Over 380 secondary schools in the State would be reached.