Responding to the climate emergency

00:10 by Cornelius Holtorf

I have been attending the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development MONDIACULT 2022 in Mexico-City (28-30 September 2022). My University made a story out of it!

My formal role was an invited statement in the session “Responding to the climate emergency: new imperatives for cultural policy”, organised by the Climate Heritage Network. The session attracted an audience of more than 60 participants in the room (plus an unknown number of digital listeners) and it was very well received.

In my short contribution, I emphasized the significance of culture for mitigating the climate crisis and for preparing for a different world in the future. I also noted what I called the Climate Heritage Paradox:

  1. Heritage promotes continuity when we in fact need change.
  2. Heritage is framed in a local/national context when in fact we need global and multilateral collaboration.

(Similar issues are now also discussed in a White Paper on “The role of cultural and natural heritage for climate action” which resulted from the  International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change co-arranged by IPCC, UNESCO, and ICOMOS in December 2021.)

I concluded with two action items. Capacity building is necessary …

  • for the cultural sector generally: integrate foresight and long-term futures thinking throughout the sector (as also recommended in the UN Secretary General’s 2021 report on Our Common Agenda)
  • for the cultural heritage sector and education in heritage: (a) embrace more often change (or cultural diversity over time), not as much continuity and conservation, as well as (b) strengthen global thinking in the field.

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