Music meets sustainability: A movement for climate action in Southeast Asia

Concerts with a sustainability focus have shown that music can entertain and inform simultaneously, and deliver a more climate-friendly musical experience.

The Nation

The Nation



File photo of people passing by a wall that says "NO MUSIC ON A DEAD PLANET". PHOTO: THE NATION

January 19, 2024

BANGKOK – In a world where music transcends boundaries and language, a new movement is growing in Southeast Asia that harmonizes the power of music with a commitment to environmental sustainability.

For centuries, the diverse musical traditions of Southeast Asia have served as a universal language, fostering cultural exchange and knowledge transmission. Today, this musical legacy is taking on a new purpose: musicians from the region are lending their voices to move people to action around the climate crisis.

This is part of a broader movement in which artists like Massive Attack, Billie Eilish and Radiohead have raised their voices about the climate crisis, made changes to the way they work and used the power of their music as a potent vehicle for conveying environmental concerns. Concerts with a sustainability focus, such as Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour, have shown that music can entertain and inform simultaneously, and deliver a more climate-friendly musical experience.

Sustainable Practices Leading the Way for a Greener Music Industry

As the call for environmental sustainability grows louder, the music industry in Asia is slowly embracing sustainability. More and more concert productions, recording studios, and festivals are implementing eco-conscious measures. The Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand, a pioneer in this regard, has adopted waste reduction, recycling initiatives, and renewable energy sources. The Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia not only showcases diverse musical traditions but also promotes rainforest and environmental conservation.

Driven by a shared concern for the climate crisis, 13 Indonesian musicians came together as the founding members of IKLIM ‘the Indonesian Knowledge, Climate, Arts and Music Lab’. These leading Indonesian musicians of various genres such as Endah N Rhesa, Iga Massardi, Navicula Tony Q Rastafara, and others gathered in Bali earlier this year to gain a deep understanding of the causes of climate change, what needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions and how music and art can be powerful tools for climate action. Their collaboration resulted in the ‘Sonic/panic’ compilation album, released under Alarm Records, Indonesia’s first environmentally conscious record label. The album’s diverse genres unite under a common cause: the urgent call for climate action.

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