Stefan Szczesny's hand-painted sails representing the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals.© Sailing #Art4GlobalGoals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals set to sail Geneva’s Bol d’Or Mirabaud
From June 9-11, sailing enthusiasts will gather in Geneva for the Bol d’Or Mirabaud to watch its competitors race from Geneva to Le Bouveret and back, on a 123km course around Lake Geneva.
2 Jun 2023

Beginning in 1939, the world’s premier sailing regatta on a lake has long been a hive of innovation and marine-related technology. The event reassembles 500+ sailing boats and 2500+ sailors, and acts as a showcase for Swiss sailing, bringing together professional and amateur sailors on the same course.

This year, the event will celebrate the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the exhibition of 17 hand-painted sails to represent each of the SDGs by the world-renowned artist Stefan Szczesny.

The SDGs provide a universal framework for addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, such as poverty, inequality, climate change, and global health. By setting clear targets and indicators, they enable countries to track progress, identify gaps, and adjust policies and strategies accordingly. This long-term perspective helps ensure that development efforts are sustainable and transformative.

Szczesny’s sails are part of the Sailing #Art4GlobalGoals. The greater Art4GlobalGoals campaign began from a collaboration between the UNESCO Ambassador Ute-Henriette Ohoven, the YOU Foundation, and the Düsseldorf curator and gallery owner Dirk Geuer of Geuer & Geuer Art to harness the power of art and creativity to raise awareness and inspire action towards achieving the UN’s SDGs. The project encourages artists, creatives, and individuals to use their talents to address global challenges and promote sustainable development.

Stefan Szczesny’s hand-painted sails representing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals © Sailing #Art4GlobalGoals

Szczesny’s SDG sails were first exhibited in Germany’s Cultural Regatta in 2021 when they sailed on the Rhein toward Düsseldorf. In June of 2022, the Sailing #Art4GlobalGoals was presented in Paris at the UNESCO headquarters to mark World Oceans Day with a spotlight on SDG 14 to raise awareness of the need to protect our oceans’ health.

Szczesny states, “It is a personal concern of mine to contribute to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and to express this with my artistic capabilities. Each of the sails I have created, symbolizes one of the sustainability goals to be achieved by 2030. I really hope that it will motivate people and that the seriousness will be understood. If everyone takes on just one sail – that is, one goal – and works to achieve it, together we will make a big difference.”

This June, Szczesny is proudly partnering with the global health and humanitarian aid organization, Project HOPE to highlight SDG 3 – to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. Goal 3 is particularly critical as the globe continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which devastated health systems and set back the clock on key health indicators.

This collaboration comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) releases its 2023 World Health Statistics report that details the statistics on progress toward SDG 3, which portrays the toll of the pandemic on global health. From 2020-2021, COVID-19 claimed 336.8 million years of life, or an average of 22 years of life lost for every excess death. The pandemic also contributed to inequities for health care access and routine immunizations, causing declines in progress around malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Additionally, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are now claiming nearly three quarters of all lives lost each year.

Bol d’Or Mirabaud attendees will have the opportunity to see Stefan Szczesny’s hand-painted sails on display throughout the event. Project HOPE will also have a booth on-site where they will be exhibiting art painted by children impacted by the war in Ukraine as a nod to the collaboration’s theme of “Art of HOPE” and to emphasize the importance of mental health.

Learn more about the Bol d’Or Mirabaud here.

* Courtney Ridgway is Media Relations Director of Project HOPE
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