Art champions and health thinkers unite at COP28 for common good - GulfToday

Art champions and health thinkers unite at COP28 for common good

An art image on dangers of climate change.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Jameel Arts & Health Lab, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), New York University and CULTURUNNERS, have championed the role of the arts in tackling climate change and the global health crisis at COP28. From Dec. 1-3, the Lab presented COP28 Healing Arts Week, a global dialogue to promote the role of the arts in supporting human and planetary health. The programme included a high-level panel in the COP28 Green Zone, participation by Lab Co-Director Christopher Bailey in the COP28 Blue Zone, a youth-focused live dialogue at the Jameel Arts Centre, and a private reception hosted by Community Jameel and the WHO Foundation to recognise the Jameel Arts & Health Lab’s work on arts, health and climate. At the reception, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO said: “The arts can be a powerful ally in our quest to improve health for all.

I have seen the impact of the arts on community well-being, and I’m very pleased that this collaboration (with the Jameel Arts & Health Lab) will help us understand the science of that impact in order to improve the lives of people from all backgrounds.” The Lab’s programme at COP28 represented the culmination of a three-month series of ‘listening sessions’ on the theme of arts, health and climate, which began with a roundtable at the Lincoln Center in New York City during UNGA Healing Arts Week, and included participation in MENA Climate Week and a panel within AEON Collective’s tree library as part of Healing Arts Arabia Week in Riyadh. On December 1, a live recording session of the Community Jameel x Afikra Conversation Series for COP28, which amplified the voices of those working at the intersection of the arts, health and climate action, was made available.

 A presentation at the event.

The panel discussion explored the impact of the arts on human and planetary health and the role of art in translating science into stories that shape values and shift behaviours. The event was moderated by Clea Daridan, curator at Community Jameel, and Mikey Muhanna, founder and executive director of Afikra. The panelists were Stephen Stapleton, CEO of CULTURUNNERS and co-founder of the Jameel Arts & Health Lab; Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Associate Professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development, New York University and Co-director of the Jameel Arts & Health Lab; Nadia Christidi, PhD candidate at MIT, researcher, writer and arts practitioner; Uns Kattan, deputy director, Head of Learning and Research, Art Jameel and Dr. Marina Romanello, executive director of Lancet Countdown.“We need to leverage available evidence on the health benefits of engaging in the arts to address the health impacts of climate change,” said Dr. Sajnani.

“The science tells us that artists and creative arts therapists are valuable partners in communicating the health impacts of climate change and facilitating reconnecting with one’s environment, and coalition building towards a culture of sustainability.” On December 2, a panel discussion titled Safeguarding Our Planet: Biodiversity, Climate, And One Health, featured Lab Co-Director and WHO Arts & Health Lead, Christopher Bailey, alongside Princess Mashael bint Saud Al-Shalan, Co-founder Aeon Collective; Prince Sultan bin Fahad, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation; Princess Hala bint Khaled, president of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; Raquel Peixoto, associate professor of microbiology at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia; Richard Bush, chief environment officer at NEOM and Catherine Cone, environment and sustainability director at the Royal Commission for AlUla.

 Stephen Stapleton, CEO of CULTURUNNERS, speaking at COP28.

On December 3, COP’s first designated Health Day, the Jameel Arts & Health Lab and Aeon Collective, in collaboration with Impact One, co-hosted a high-level panel at the COP28 Green Zone, to explore the role of the arts in translating the science of climate change and its impact on human and planetary health. Panelists included world-renowned media artist, Refik Anadol; Princess Mashael bint Saud Al-Shalan; Manal Ataya, Advisor to Sharjah Museums Authority; Christopher Bailey and Elizabeth Markovitch, Founder of Ikono TV. Anadol, who is also a Visiting Researcher & Lecturer at UCLA’s Design Media Arts Department, said that “one of the most profound experiences in life and the most intelligent things we have as humanity is nature … I think we can find ways of looking at similarities and I believe that artists like myself … have a significant responsibility to create awareness through exhibitions and profound performances and beyond.”

The Jameel Arts & Health Lab’s COP28 Healing Arts Week was one of the global events marking the 75th anniversary of WHO. It is implemented under a broader WHO75 Healing Arts programme that has been running since January 2023, with events in Dublin (Creative Brain Week), Lagos (National Arts and Health Week Nigeria), Geneva (WHO75 Healing Arts Concert), Cairo/Alexandria (Global South Arts and Health Week), Copenhagen (Music and Motherhood Meeting), Riyadh (Healing Arts Arabia Week), culminating in Dubai (COP28 Healing Arts Week).

The Jameel Arts & Health Lab was launched in January this year, following the signing of agreements between the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the Steinhardt School at New York University (NYU), Community Jameel and CULTURUNNERS. It focuses on overlooked and underserved communities, coordinates scientific research into the effectiveness of the arts in improving health and well-being across 193 UN Member States and explores how scientific research can be used in arts to improve health and well-being by leveraging data, artist-led advocacy and a global Healing Arts campaign. 




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