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World cities respond to climate emergency

Cultural and environmental strategies are becoming increasingly connected

​Cities are increasingly recognising that culture can help address our climate emergency. Culture is not merely a reflection of the world around us, but also a provocation – a challenge to our norms and ideals, and a platform to express, share and shape our values. The World Cities Culture Forum and Julie’s Bicycle worked with 14 of the network’s world cities, who provided inspiring case studies of how city leaders are putting climate and the environment at the centre of their cultural ambitions.

Explored in more depth within their latest publication, six key trends emerged:

  1. Cultural and environmental strategies are becoming increasingly connected: Melbourne has embedded environmental sustainability within the city’s cultural strategy through its ninth goal ‘to care for its environment’
  2. Collaboration between cultural and environmental departments is increasing: To support Amsterdam’s sustainability programme, the municipality hired a Project Manager to develop sustainability support and training for some of the city’s top cultural venues
  3. Creative programming is growing in environmental ambition: The City of Austin’s Artist-in-Residency programme embeds artists within City departments to help provide innovative solutions or new process improvements, and to engage communities in creative ways
  4. Creative and cultural responses reflect local contexts and communities: The 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art asks us to re-examine the past to project alternative futures, grounded in the indigenous, immigrant and settler histories of the city
  5. Cities are experimenting, designing and co-creating new sustainable urban models: Lagos Urban Development Initiative is bringing like-minded organisations and people together to advocate for a more inclusive, liveable and sustainable city
  6. Environmental sustainability is an essential component of local resilience and a platform for new ideas: In London, the Mayor’s Entrepreneurship Award engages university students on generating low-carbon and circular economy market opportunities with two new awards focusing on technology and the creative industries.

Their full Culture and Climate Change: City Profiles report is here.

This report builds on the foundations set by the Forum’s Culture and Climate Change Handbook, which highlighted creative and cultural responses to climate change and environmental sustainability in world cities.

The World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF) is an initiative convened by BOP and the Mayor of London’s Culture Team. Other WCCF publications covering how to make space for culture in world cities, how to finance culture, as well as examples of transformational cultural projects can be found here.

Image credit: Fruition 2013 by Matthew Harding, Photo © Matthew Stanton, Courtesy of City of Melbourne