With the help of Zoë Straub – Austria’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest – and a short film competition for young people, the Embassy in Vienna hopes to generate interest in the Sustainable Development Goals and the #FirstGeneration project. The Swedish Institute’s photographic exhibition ‘Facing the Climate’ also provides good opportunities for engaging a young audience.

For Austria’s young rising star, 19-year-old Zoë Straub, preparations are well under way for the Eurovision Song Contest in May in Stockholm. Rehearsals, interviews and yet more rehearsals are dominating these final weeks before it is time to leave for Stockholm. The Embassy recently managed to grab Zoë for her last free lunchtime appointment before the final. Ambassador Helen Eduards took the opportunity to talk about the Sustainable Development Goals and #FirstGeneration, issues that Zoë believes are very important, but also very difficult.

“Global issues, such as climate change, are very close to my heart,” says Zoë Straub. “As young people we have a responsibility and we must dare to ask questions when we don’t understand,” she adds.

Several of her friends are studying abroad and when the old classmates meet they often have intensive discussions about social issues, both large and small, she explains. Practically all of Zoë Straub’s time is being taken up by music at the moment. But after Eurovision she would like to learn more about sustainability issues and make a contribution.

Cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature

The Embassy plans to announce a short film competition for young people on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, in cooperation with the youth section of the World Wide Fund for Nature, Generation Earth and other actors in Austria. The hope is to receive many engaged competition entries that visualise the goals in various ways and highlight the issues from young people’s perspectives. The details of the competition are currently being finalised and it is hoped that Zoë Straub can attract attention to it.

“We are working to find more cooperation partners to reach as wide an audience as possible. Reaching out to a young audience is fun and exciting,” says Ambassador Helen Eduards.

The Embassy will also cooperate with the World Wide Fund for Nature on its education programme for young leaders, which targets committed young people in the age group 15–25 years. The programme this autumn will mainly focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. Project leader Nathan Spees at Generation Earth confirms that major efforts are needed to explain the issues and generate a broad commitment among young people in society. Among their own members there is a great deal of interest, but it is difficult reaching out to a broad audience.

The Swedish Institute’s exhibition linked to #FirstGeneration

The Embassy is also making use of the ongoing work on the ‘Facing the Climate’ exhibition to communicate #FirstGeneration. The purpose of the exhibition is to encourage conversations about sustainable development, starting out from caricatures by five Swedish, Austrian and Slovakian illustrators. The Embassy wants to use entertaining and unsettling illustrations to create dialogue and highlight how art can portray strong messages in a direct and accessible way. One goal of the exhibition is to reach a different audience than people who are already convinced of the need to combat climate change.

#FirstGeneration will be a natural message to be communicated during a workshop to be held in Bratislava in June, in connection with the exhibition. The catalogue has also been supplemented so that when the exhibition is shown in the future, there will always be an excellent opportunity to include #FirstGeneration.

Text: Helena Onn
Foto: Malin Drakenfors