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e79 manifesto – accelerating climate action through the power of arts, culture and heritage

Episode Summary

My reading of the ‘Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage’ manifesto developed by the Climate Heritage Network to summarize key cultural messages for COP26 and activate the arts, culture and heritage sector. You can find more information on the origins and the co-authors of the manifesto at

Episode Notes

Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage manifesto, 2021

My reading of the ‘Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage’ manifesto developed by the Climate Heritage Network to summarize key cultural messages for COP26 and activate the arts, culture and heritage sector. You can find more information on the origins and the co-authors of the manifesto at

It’s Monday, November 8, 2021. I’m on a beach in Stanley Park, in Vancouver and this is an episode where I will read to you a manifesto. A very good one and a very timely one.

Here’s the story… I first met archeologist and museums champion Dr. Robert R. Janes through the Sectoral Arts Climate leadership for the Emergency (SCALE) where he spoke about some of his climate projects, including the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice. We’ve kept in touch. A few weeks ago, Bob sent me a link to a manifesto called ‘Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage’ developed by the Climate Heritage Network . I had not heard about it and maybe you have not as well. So I wanted to read it to you. 

I was deeply moved by the clarity and power of these words. 

So I asked for, and was granted, permission by the co-authors to record the manifesto for this podcast in both English and in the next episode 80, je vais le lire en francais. One of the reason for a recorded version of this manifesto is that you might be like me and tend to retain information more when I listen rather than when I read and so I wanted to share an audio version of this manifesto available to the listeners of this podcast during COP26. I will read out the manifesto’s introduction followed by the manifesto in its entirety. In keeping with how I have been doing the podcast this season this will be in one take with no editing so please forgive any mistakes.

You can find more information on the origins and the co-authors of the manifesto at I would to thank Bob and the other co- authors of the manifesto for this gift and for this invigorating wake up call. 

Here is the introduction that you’ll find on the website.

‘This Manifesto provides key messages on culture and climate change aimed at the 2021 United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) and beyond. It seeks to activate those involved in arts, culture, and heritage to take climate action through communication and engagement, inspiring and assisting their constituents, members and audiences to increase ambition; to change their own behaviours; and to engage with climate change policy development at local and national government and intergovernmental level.  Simultaneously, in order to meet the urgency of the climate emergency, it strives to inspire and encourage greater synergistic collaboration on climate action with other sectors and partners that have not traditionally engaged with cultural actors. We invite civil society, government at all levels, Indigenous Peoples’ organisations, cultural organizations and institutions, businesses, universities and research organisations and other stakeholders to join us in signing on to this Manifesto, signalling our shared ambition to create just, thriving, and resilient communities today and into the future.’

Now here is the manifesto:

Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage

A Manifesto on Keeping 1.5° Alive


We, the undersigned, declare that people, their cultures, and the natural and cultural heritage of the earth are profoundly at risk from human-caused climate change and the climate inaction that is deepening the unfolding climate crisis even while we reaffirm the immense power of arts, culture, and heritage to inspire climate action and enable a just transition to low carbon, climate resilient futures.

Climate change is already impacting people and planet, with long-lasting and irreversible effects. Avoiding the worst of these requires limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Yet the world is failing to meet even the Paris Agreement’s 2 degrees temperature goal, with current Green House Gas (GHG) concentrations now the highest ever recorded.

The present COVID-19 pandemic, and the suffering it has caused, have made the response to climate change even more difficult while also revealing essential lessons, including the imperative of heeding science, the consequences of the separation between humans and nature, the importance of centering the needs of the most vulnerable, and the fact that rapid and far-reaching social and economic change is possible when society, working together, wills it.

Building back better, tackling the climate and biodiversity crises, and achieving sustainable development requires ambitious, transformative action at scale, including deep GHG emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation and adaptation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options.

Centering equity and justice should be at the heart of all actions so that widening economic and health disparities can be reversed. Culture and the arts reflect and influence consumption patterns, mediating our awareness of nature and the planet and our relationship to the environment.

Culture anchors people to places and to each other. It can create cohesion in ways that enable community-building and collective action. Artists and cultural voices drive public awareness and action; their work can be a powerful tool for climate mobilization. Through public accessibility and trust, cultural institutions like museums and libraries provide platforms for listening to communities and hubs of multicultural and inter-generational exchange, capacity building, and knowledge-sharing.

Integrating natural and cultural values highlights linkages between the ecological and social functions of landscapes in ways that promote lifestyles in harmony with nature. This historic environment embodies past carbon investments, now stewarded by the owners and users of landscapes and buildings. Cultural heritage holds peoples’ stories and the knowledge of local communities (what the Paris Agreement calls ‘endogenous technologies’). The archaeological record illustrates the causes of, and adaptation to, past changes.

Yet, the talents of many arts, culture and heritage actors, operators and advocates have still not been mobilised for climate action. They include artists, anthropologists, archaeologists, architects, landscape architects, administrators, archivists, crafts persons, conservators, curators, engineers, geographers, historians, librarians, musicians, museologists, writers, performers, urban planners, and site managers, as well as scientists, researchers, teachers, and scholars, and carriers of Indigenous knowledge, whose unique insights have not yet been adequately applied to climate change or accounted for in climate science.

We represent institutions and organizations committed to shifting this paradigm and unlocking the potential of arts, culture, and heritage to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. We recognize this must include transformation within the culture sector too, embracing sustainable practices and stewardship; lifting up the voices of underserved communities and prioritizing solidarity with frontline communities, as well as preserving, recording and making culture and heritage available in inclusive ways, including through traditional and innovative artistic forms as well as new technologies.

This paradigm and mindset shift also require the cultural dimensions of climate action be prioritized in science, policy, planning and fiscal frameworks for climate mitigation and adaption, disaster risk reduction and in planning for losses and damages. The mainstreaming of cultural considerations must be done at all scales (local, regional, national and international) and across all sectors from energy to buildings, from mobility to agriculture.

We recognize the profound connection between cultural rights, cultural survival, and climate action. We also consider this Manifesto to be a contribution to human-centered, rights-based approaches that places culture as an explicit and operational dimension of development and provides cultural actors (civil society and institutional) a seat at the table required to make it happen.

It is time to act. 

We must close both the emissions and ambition gaps. To achieve a 1.5°Celsius world, more attention must be paid to the cultural dimensions of lifestyles and livelihoods, to the public understanding of climate impacts, the social acceptance of systems changes, to gender-responsive and diverse approaches, and to the wellsprings of climate ambition. In short, we must transcend the divides between culture and science, people and policy, memory and evolving practice.

COP26 must be a turning point for multi-level action to realize the potential of culture to effectively combat the climate crisis. It is our shared responsibility to secure the cultural inheritance and cultural rights of current and future generations; to safeguard a healthy, prosperous, and resilient planet; and to deliver the emissions reductions upon which these outcomes hinge. In all this work, count us in! Count culture in!

Me at Stanley Park beach, Vancouver, November 8, 2021