Back to blog
21st April 2024

World Creativity and Innovation Day – 21st April 2024

Since 2018, April 21st has been designated World Creativity and Innovation Day by the UN to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation in bringing about progress, addressing societal challenges and fostering sustainable development. As the world continues to develop and evolve at an unprecedented pace, innovation has become a necessity for progress, and this awareness day serves as a reminder of the significance of our creative arts sectors, innovators and problem solvers. Here in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, we’re looking at some of the projects and organisations helping us reach global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a local level. 

Located roughly two miles south of Thornhill, in 2020 the village of Closeburn became home to three community-owned family-sized homes built to Passivhaus Standards. Nith Valley Leaf Trust, a community development group, identified the need for more affordable and secure rental houses in the area, and through speaking to the community, they found the priorities for locals were family housing and property that addressed climate issues, in particular fuel poverty. With this information, it was decided that Passivhaus Standard was the way forward; the environmental building credentials would make the average cost of running a family home only £300 annually. Passivhaus involves positioning the property to maximise sunlight and reduce shading, and includes triple-glazed windows throughout and top spec insulation standards. By adopting the latest innovations in build standards and specification, Closeburn has been able to create three affordable, efficient and green houses for local families. Stability has also been a key benefit for the families living in the properties, some of whom have had to leave previous rentals due to landlords selling up. As well as being the first community in Scotland to use Passivhaus Standard for community housing, this innovative project meets multiple Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 11 Sustainable Communities, SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities and SDG 13 Climate Action. You can watch a short film produced by the Nith Valley Leaf Trust about the project and its funders on YouTube here. 

Based in the ‘artists’ town’ of Kirkcudbright, EcoArt is an ecologically-focused charity founded by artists and activists with a shared group of values: a deep connection with creativity and our environment; a shared love of art, our planet, adventure; and a belief that we can make a difference. EcoArt has a studio space for workshops and events (photo shows one of EcoArt’s monthly Repair Cafes), and they work to support and commission works that are rooted in our connection to the planet and plant systems. Past commissions have included artworks for Sanctuary Lab 2021, a public art event where artists and audiences came together for 24 hours to form a temporary community within the Galloway Dark Sky Park, with works in audio-visual, interpretive and interactive artforms. EcoArt recently launched their first open call, with £20,000 of funding available to support bold new creative work that widens, deepens and re-sites the conversation around our complex relationship with the environment and our journey towards positive change. Funding proposals from individuals, collectives and partnerships are welcomed, with projects of all sizes and mediums encouraged. Whilst EcoArt is a Dumfries and Galloway based charity, proposals are also welcome from creatives across Scotland, including South and East Ayrshire. The deadline for applications is 30th June 2024, and more information on the fund can be found on EcoArt’s website. 

Creative industries are recognised as a highly transformative sector of the world economy, and culture as an essential component of sustainable development. Our Biosphere Certification Mark scheme, which recognises outstanding local sustainable practices in business, has strong representation in creative industries, with many local artists, designers and makers inspired by the landscapes of our UNESCO Biosphere. Artist, designer and maker Lizzie Farey creates sculptures from natural materials at her studio in Kirkcudbright, often using homegrown, hand-harvested willow (as pictured), from land that provides habitats for insects and birds.

Fellow Kirkcudbright-based artist Laura Boswell specialises in printmaking, working with traditional artists’ linocut and woodblock, which are sustainable and low impact materials as opposed to the plastics often found in modern printmaking. Laura’s studio welcomes students from across the UK and abroad, and educates on environmentally-friendly practices and the best methods to avoid wastage during the printing processes. 

Rugaura, run by textile artist Laura Derby, creates unique, hand-crafted textile rugs, wall hangings, mindfulness mats, as well as upholstered stools made by skilled local woodworkers. Laura’s products use 100% British Wool, alongside upcycled British carpet industry yarn, and have an entirely local provenance wherever possible. 

All these Biosphere-certified creatives will be hosting open studios at this year’s Spring Fling on 25th – 27th May. Spring Fling is a signatory to the Biosphere’s Sustainable Events Charter, highlighting organisers’ commitment to protecting the environment while promoting local culture and heritage. This is a fantastic chance to get out and meet some of these artists and see their work in their studio setting. 

If you’re a creative or innovator and feel inspired by this global awareness day, why not consider applying for the Biosphere Certification Mark? It’s a great opportunity to connect with the UNESCO Biosphere ethos and a dynamic network of professionals, business owners, social enterprise leads, and our own Business Development team. Apply through our online form, or email to arrange a call. We also welcome any creative events or festivals looking to highlight their positive environmental impact by signing up to our Sustainable Event Charter; get in touch via  

Featured Image Credit: Colin Tennant (Coulson & Tennant)/Spring Fling

Get involved - become a Proud Supporter