Rap Battle about the SDGs in Rio’s Baixada

Rappers from Rio’s suburbs got together in the first-ever Battle of MCs about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 

Rappers, DJs and musicians from the Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan area, the Baixada Fluminense, are participating in a pilot project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP RIO+Centre) that uses music to translate the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into action.  On 19 January 2017, over 270 people gathered in the Culture House of Belford Roxo, a city of almost half million people located about 35 km from Rio de Janeiro’s downtown, to participate in the first Rap Battle supported by the United Nations. It stimulated the production of musical content on the SDGs and the great themes of the sustainable development and human rights. The unexpected high number of people attending the event in a summer night of rain and flooding in Belford Roxo also showed the need of more cultural spaces and cultural events in the peripheries and suburbs of large metropolitan areas. Rio’s Baixada region has, for instance, 3.8 million inhabitants, comprising 13 different cities.

The following artists and musicians from the Baixada delivered presentations in the UNDP Rap Battle, from 4 pm up to 10 pm: DJ Nino Leal, MC THERLU, DJ JESUS, Gunjahclan, Bonde 2 Cria – B2C, Roberto Silva Mc Eddi, Renato Biguli, LC do Cantão, RAITECK, MARSAL, EMINENTE, STURT, JP, JAMALL, BOKINHA, NICK, L.O, TAFAR

Why Belford Roxo, Baixada Fluminense

The pilot project with the musicians from the Baixada began to be executed in June 2016 and will produce a new methodology of citizen engagement available for replication by the 166 UNDP Country Offices, stimulating the contributions of the musicians and artists in mobilizing local debate and action for the SDGs. Some of events already organized during the pilot phase included training workshops at the Donana Cultural Center in Belford Roxo, which also hosts most of the activities in the Baixada area; a great show of musicians from the Baixada in the iconic Odeon Theatre of Rio, for 480 participants, in August 2016; the production of a CD with 17 brand new song tracks (Reggae, Rap, Funk, Hip Hop, Hard Rock), entirely devoted to the themes of the 2030 Agenda; and the consolidation of an open network of musicians called “BXD Nunca Se Rende”.

Belford Roxo is one of the thirteen municipalities of the Baixada Fluminense in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. It is one of the most populated cities of the State of Rio de Janeiro, with almost 500 thousand inhabitants, located in the 53rd position of the Municipal Human Development Index (MHDI) ranking of the 92 municipalities of the state. The city gained international visibility in the late 1980s, and was then ranked as the most violent city in the world in terms of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Overcoming a dark past, the citizens of Belford Roxo found in music and art the fundamental support for the construction of a more active citizenship, engaged in the construction of a better future for all. With a booming music scene, Belford Roxo is today one of the main national hubs of development of new musical talents, representing of a wide diversity of rhythms, genres, and African inflluences, with emphasis on Rap and Reggae.

In addition to producing brand new musical content, including five songs that will be released as part of a promotional CD on 18 March 2017, one of the goals of the UNDP RIO+ Centre’s pilot project is to stimulate critical reflection on the reality of development, and to stimulate citizens, especially young people, to demand more accountability and action by all levels of government to meet internationally agreed commitments, such as the 2030 Agenda, adopted by all 193 UN Member States.

This new global agenda for sustainability aims to improve the quality of life while respecting and preserving the natural limits of Planet Earth, guaranteeing sustainable conditions of life for future generations. Over the next 13 years, all UN Member States must take concrete steps and actions to implement the 17 SDGs and to ensure the survival of humankind in a scenario where climate change and social conflict are intensifying.

The new UN agenda is a reference of hope for humanity, establishing 169 targets and 231 indicators to support the implementation of the 17 Global Goals at the municipal, state and national levels. The success of countries’ efforts to implement the SDGs by the 2030 deadline will, however, require the creation of broad coalitions and the mobilization of all sectors of society, including national governments, cities, businesses, citizens, civil society organizations and the media.

The UNDP pilot project is being implemented in the Baixada Fluminense because Brazil played a key role in establishing the 2030 Agenda. It was in 2012, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20), held in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where the process of building the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs was launched. In addition of being the largest conference in the history of the UN, Rio +20 was also the most open and participatory, opening spaces for concrete and meaningful action by social movements around the world in a scale never seen before. Rio +20 marked history. One of its main legacies was to promote an open and participatory process of building the new Agenda and defining the 17 SDGs.

Recognizing Brazil’s global leadership role in the 2030 Agenda, UNDP and the Brazilian Government have joined forces to create the RIO+ Centre in Rio de Janeiro, a concrete legacy of the Rio +20 Conference for the world. A key area of the RIO+ Centre’s work is to establish new methodologies and creative tools for citizen mobilization to advance the implementation of the SDGs. As one of UNDP’s six global centres of excellence, the RIO+ Centre develops initiatives that can be replicated by the 166 UNDP offices in developing countries.

The UNDP RIO+ Centre and the BXD Nunca Se Rende network invite musicians, artists, music producers, new talents and young people to participate in this open group. Meetings are regularly held at the Donana Cultural Center in Belford Roxo and at the RIO+ Centre in downtown Rio. Several events are being planned for the coming months, including a big show at the Raul Cortêz Theater in Duque de Caxias (18 March 2017) and the launch of an international documentary about the development of UNDP’s pioneering project in the Baixada. Contact information:
UNDP: Francisco Filho and Brenda Sachiko Hada; francisco.filho@undp.org / brenda.hada@undp.org; + 55 21 99424 3821
BXD Nunca Se Rende: MC Eddi and Renata Cobre: oliveiraroberto34@gmail.com / cobreprodutora@gmail.com


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