Olafur starts Climate Week NYC off with a Little Sunrise

October 2019

There is no better way to kick off Climate Week NYC than with a beautiful sunrise, or more specifically a Little Sunrise. And that’s exactly what Olafur did at the Social Good Summit where he was announced UN Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Action. It was a big moment with an even bigger message:

Life on Earth is about coexistence—among people, non-human animals, ecosystems, and the environment. […] The fact is, we’re in it together. That’s why we all have to take the climate emergency seriously. To respond adequately to the crisis, we—individuals, institutions, businesses, and governments—must trust the science and bring together our knowledge, creativity, and energy.” – Olafur Eliasson


To effect change you need to be able to empower people and make them feel connected to the cause. We saw a perfect example of what can come by doing exactly that with almost 8 million people taking to the streets for the Global Climate Strike, demanding an end to business as usual, uniting in solidarity and hope for a future that exists beyond 2050. It was an awe-inspiring thing to witness and an even more incredible to be apart of. 

“Right here, right now, is where we draw the line. The world is waking up, and change is coming – whether you like it, or not” – Greta Thunberg

Every year in September, 193 member states gather to discuss issues of international importance at the UN General Assembly, with one of the main themes of this year being climate action and inclusion. There were numerous other climate-themed events happening all over New York that coincided with this year’s UN General Assembly, reminding us that the conversation around climate justice isn’t just for the world leaders to discuss, it’s also very much a conversation we should be having with each other in our own communities. There were over 350 events organized by The Climate Group for Climate Week NYC and various other events that Little Sun and Olafur were involved in, such as the GGWC.

The Global Goals World Cup (GGWC) turns the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into a game and invites women from all around the world to take part for a chance to wear a Little Sun medal and hold the winning trophy designed by Olafur, high up in the air for the world to see. 

It was also the opening of The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Centre (LMCC) the Friday before Climate Week. The Arts center on Governors Island, New York has a special focus on sustainability and ecology. The Little Sun lamps were part of an interactive Sunlight Graffiti activity that demonstrates how light can be used as a tool to effect change. It is through activities such as this and other such artworks like Ice Watch (2014) that Olafur can help the UNDP “raise awareness and mobilize support” for climate action.

As an artist, I am very happy to make explicit my voice and push together with other people. And luckily I think the artistic potential also opens up for owning a critical agenda” – Olafur Eliasson

Workshop: Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun Sunlight Graffiti

Olafur will continue his involvement in artworks that encourage people to think about the world around them and contribute to building communities in one way or another. Watch this space!

Photo credits: Un Foundation, Little Sun