The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a moral compass for film professionals. Human and recognisable they appeal more to the imagination than CO2.
The sustainability debate is often reduced to cutting CO2 in order to battle climate change. Climate change, natural or man-induced has a major impact on our planet. However this is just part of the story, sustainability is much broader. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations can serve as an alternative narrative or moral compass. Specialists from all over the world defined 17 sustainable goals. This approach is more human and recognisable; themes such as gender, equality, education, consumption, climate and biodiversity appeal more to the imagination of film professionals. That is exactly why the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) has chosen to use the SDGs as a moral compass. This approach might be relevant for other film funds that implement sustainability in their region.

VAF translates the SDGs into usable examples within the broad value chain.
- At fund level: SDGs are not only relevant to the funds sustainability policy, but also applies to its internal functioning (i.e. public events and procurement)
- At script level: SDGs inspire writers. Sustainable topics can be subtle details within a story, but could also be the main theme of a production.
- SDGs can also inspire during film production. Sustainable actions on set can again be made visible using SDG-pictograms.
- Cinema’s and festivals not only opt for sustainable logistics, but can also communicate about SDGs during events and film-related debates.

Resources needed

Good news: SDG’s are for free. The only resource needed is creativity. Organising a film festival? Link a specific film to a SDG-inspired debate. Location manager? Use the SDG-pictograms at waste collection points .

Evidence of success

A recurring remark from AV professionals is the theoretic approach to sustainability. By shifting towards SDGs as narrative (instead of CO2), people are more personally motivated. Film school teachers witnessed this shift . VAF uses SDGs to motivate participants during events. By writing down their name on reusable tableware and linking this to SDGs consumption, life on land and water and water usage VAF can efficiently limit single use plastics.

Potential for learning or transfer

SDGs are a new narrative for film funds. They have the potential to inspire audio-visual professionals within the entire value chain. The example from Flanders can inspire other film funds to broaden both their vision on sustainability as their scope (focus on entire value chain).

Using SDG’s as moral compass can easily inspire other sectors within the broad landscape of culture and media (i.e. game development, musea, festivals, …). Pulse transition network made an inspiration guide based on SDG’s:

VAF’s next step will be to translate existing and new sustainable solutions within the frame of the SDGs and exchange this at EU level. One example is the article written by VAF, linking each of the 17 goals to a specific example within the media sector.

VAF’s work has inspired GS partners. Film London has aligned its environmental sustainability through Green Screen with its social sustainability through its Equal Access Network.

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Main institution
Flanders Audiovisual Fund
Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgium (Belgique-België)
Start Date
January 2019
End Date


tim wagendorp Please login to contact the author.