As we embark on COP 28, leading voices from cultural heritage, the arts, and creative sectors have united behind a campaign to ask the UN Climate Change Convention to put culture at the heart of international climate policy, planning and action. 

Over 1,000 cultural organisations, leaders and practitioners have added their voices to a Global Call to Action in advance of this year’s COP 28 in Dubai, which started on the 30 November and runs until 12 December. They are urging the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) to adopt a groundbreaking ‘Joint Work Decision on Culture and Climate Action’ to ensure culture-based solutions to climate change are recognised and implemented. 

Existing climate policies have proven inadequate and left the world struggling to meet Paris Agreement targets. Culture-led solutions that are inclusive, rights-based, place-specific, demand-oriented, and focused on people and nature are already abundant. Yet in spite of its potential, culture has not yet been integrated into climate policy and planning.

This global campaign asks for a ‘Joint Work Decision (JWD) on Culture and Climate Action’, a UN process which would trigger policies and frameworks to enable culture to bolster climate action. A High Level Ministerial Dialogue on Culture-based Climate Action has been scheduled for 8 December at COP 28, with a view to asking the UN to adopt the JWD at next year’s COP 29.

Culture has the power to help people imagine and realise low-carbon, just, climate resilient futures. Heritage, including traditional knowledge, strengthens resilience, helps communities to adapt to climate impacts, protects places, and offers green, circular and regenerative solutions. The arts speak to hearts and minds, challenge dominant perspectives and inspire action through dialogue, images, storytelling and shared experiences. The creative sectors – design, music, fashion and film – shape our lifestyles, tastes and consumption patterns.

Of course, we support the Global Call to Embed Culture into Climate Policy at COP 28. YOUROPE has long ago recognized and named the responsibility of cultural workers in our sector, not only to set an example, but to promote concrete transformation. Festivals must and will do their part to produce in a more climate-friendly way, to act as an example and to spread the word. We support them in various ways such as acknowledgement with the Green Operations Award, training events like our the international GO Group workshop, the offer of our free Future Festival Tools or, most recently, the publication of our European Green Festival Roadmap 2030. The information, tools and incentives are there, we encourage everyone to use them.”, stated Holger Jan Schmidt, general Secretary of YOUROPE.

Over 250 leading organisations from a wide array of sectors, ranging from culture to climate and the built environment, are supporting this campaign, including YOUROPE – the European Festival Association.

Culture is a powerful force that shapes all of our lives, wherever we are in the world. Harnessing the knowledge, passion and creativity of the cultural and creative sectors for climate policy would enable transformative climate action – allowing it to scale up, influence key decisions on net zero and adaptation, and ensure that heritage is safeguarded for future generations. 

The Call to Action remains open to the public. If you recognise the extraordinary potential of culture to strengthen global climate action, sign up to support and widely disseminate this Call, as a network, organisation or individual. Add your voice and help amplify the campaign!

Press contact:
The European Festival Association
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Phone: +49 (0) 228 20 70 80 5