How can cities integrate environmental sustainability into cultural policymaking?

The world cities forum, C40 and the wonderful Julie’s Bicycle; an organisation that inspires and enables the cultural sector to lead a collective response towards a low-carbon economy, have partnered to produce the ‘Culture and Climate Change’ Handbook for City Leaders.

The aim? To highlight the roll of culture in addressing the most important global challenge of the twenty-first century; the growth of our cities.

According to the report, cities are on the front line of climate change. And with facts to back up this up such as the stat that more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by our cities it’s hard to disagree.

Urban areas are home to over half of the world’s population and this is projected to rise to two thirds by 2050. Rapid city population growth, along with extreme weather events and sea level rise are putting increasing strain on city infrastructures.

The report makes a clear call for city policymakers to act now (or forever hold their peace). C40 has 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. But, only if climate change action is scaled rapidly, otherwise global temperatures will soon pass the point of no return.

Is it achievable?

The exciting news is that there is a rich and growing cultural movement against climate change. 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.

Change is definitely happening at a cultural level, with millennials driving the sustainability agenda across the globe. But is it happening fast enough? Given the urgency of the situation Julie’s bicycle believe cultural action must quickly ‘scale up’ if it is to make a difference. This is where city policymakers have a role to play they say; evidence shows that policy can both provide a framework for action and amplify its impact.

The World Cities Forum, C40 and Julie’s Bicycle have produced the ‘Culture and Climate Change’ Handbook to provide City Leaders with case studies and key recommendations for putting theory into practice in cultural policy.

Let’s see where it lands.