Right on the heels of the historic
global climate strike on Friday, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson
has been appointed as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for its Development Program. Eliasson, who is well known for his works centered on the environment, will serve in a newly created position as an advocate for urgent climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals
, a series of 17 objectives for ending poverty, protecting the planet, and improving quality of life by 2030.
Eliasson has already created artworks addressing the climate crisis, including Ice Watch
(2014), which took large melting blocks of ice from near Greenland and placed them in several cities, including Paris during the UN Climate Summit. Other projects relate to the environment more broadly, like The New York City Waterfalls
(2008), which placed four temporary waterfalls around the city, and The weather project
(2003), which placed an indoor sun surrounded by mist at the Tate Modern
In 2012, Eliasson founded Little Sun with engineer Frederik Ottesen. The initiative aims to bring solar energy to communities living without electricity by selling solar-powered products, and providing them to people living off-the-grid at a lower price. According to its website, the business has distributed over 800,000 lamps worldwide and saved almost $50 million in energy expenses.
During his appointment ceremony on Saturday, Eliasson said