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New creative solutions for cities to meet climate targets
Our latest Handbook for City Leaders published

Earlier this month, states, cities, major NGOs and business leaders gathered in Bonn for COP23 to collaborate on the frameworks and policy solutions that will support countries’ efforts to achieve Paris Climate Agreement targets. The summit cemented world cities’ already ascendant role as leaders of global efforts to address climate change, with mayors setting ambitious targets and working collaboratively with cities around the world.

As cities take on increasing responsibility for helping nations meet their Paris Climate Agreement targets, they have an additional unexpected, and until this point largely overlooked, tool at their disposal to enact their sustainability and resilience agenda – their local cultural and creative industries.

With the World Cities Culture Forum’s latest handbook in our Policy and Practice Series, Culture and Climate Change, we are providing Mayoral administrations and other civic leaders with a roadmap to align their culture and climate change agendas. Culture and Climate Change provides the first global snapshot of efforts world cities are taking to green their creative industries, leverage culture to drive public awareness and engagement with climate issues, and involving culture in environmentally-led regeneration and urban infrastructure development.

These initiatives include:

  • The City of Edinburgh’s Green Venue Guide, a partnership between Creative Carbon Scotland and Festivals Edinburgh to reduce the environmental impact of the city’s festival and events economy
  • Amsterdam’s Cultural Venue Sustainability Action Plan, offering arts spaces across the city complimentary energy audits to monitor current use and advise on sustainability measures, in an effort to achieve a 20% reduction in energy use by 2020
  • CURRENT:LA Water, part of Los Angeles’ inaugural Public Art Biennial, bringing 15 site-specification installations throughout the city to increase residents’ understanding of and engagement with the city’s water issues
  • Refuge, a new initiative as part of the City of Melbourne’s resilience strategy to explore the role of cultural centres and artists in preparing for the impacts of climate related disasters

Cities need to establish frameworks that directly integrate sustainability and climate policy with cultural policy and should intentionally leverage their cultural capital - in the form of both human creativity and cultural buildings and infrastructure - towards sustainability and climate action. By bringing together cultural and environmental organisations, citizens, businesses and policymakers around a shared vision, mayors can get their message to new audiences, increase public engagement, and drive behaviour change on sustainability and climate change locally.

We hope Culture and Climate Change will inspire deeper levels of dialogue and action among mayoral administrations, environmental groups, and the creative community, that will drive joined-up solutions between cities’ environmental and cultural affairs departments.

The handbook can downloaded here.

A full commentary from our Director, Paul Owens, written for National Geographic, on the significance of cities linking the culture and climate change agendas can be found here.