Skip to content


Culture and Sustainability handbook
How cities integrate environmental sustainability into cultural policymaking

How can cities integrate environmental sustainability into cultural policymaking? Our new ‘Culture and Climate Change’ Handbook for City Leaders, produced in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle and C40, highlights the role of culture in addressing the most important global challenge of the twenty-first century.

Cities are on the front line of climate change. They generate over 80% of global GDP and more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. Urban areas are already home to over half of the world’s population, projected to rise to two thirds by 2050. Rapid population growth, along with extreme weather events and sea level rise are putting increasing strain on city infrastructures.

City policymakers must act now. A recent report by C40 found that cities could deliver 40% of the carbon emission savings required to limit global temperature rise to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. Existing action on climate change needs to be scaled up rapidly. Without immediate and committed action by cities, global temperatures will pass the point of no return.

Across the world, there is a rich and growing cultural movement against climate change, reflecting local diversity and environmental contexts. Climate change is a social and political issue, rooted in the global economic system and the value systems it has created. This means that climate change is a cultural challenge too.

But given the scale and the urgency of the crisis, cultural action must quickly ‘scale up’ if it is to make a difference. This is where city policymakers have a role to play: evidence shows that policy can both provide a framework for action and amplify its impact.

Our new ‘Culture and Climate Change’ Handbook for City Leaders offers a selection of case studies illustrating how World Cities Culture Forum member cities and other cities across the globe are taking action on climate change by working in partnership with cultural organisations and citizens. It also provides key recommendations for putting theory into practice in cultural policy.

Download the handbook here.

An article our Director, Paul Owens wrote for National Geographic on this report can be found here.