Change is coming

Our climate is changing, and will continue to change for centuries to come, as a result of human-caused past and future emissions of greenhouse gases.  Throughout history, societies have adapted to the local conditions of their physical environments, but the pace of these coming changes, and the more extreme warmer, wetter and wilder climate projections for North-West Europe (with associated heatwaves, flooding and sea level rise) are unprecedented in human knowledge, leaving people unprepared.

The need for adaptation increases over time, and exponentially, as the impacts of climate change compound and intensify. Well planned, early adaptation action saves money now and lives later.

Cultural organisations & the climate crisis

Many cultural organisations are already reducing the impact they have on our environment through mitigation efforts: reducing their greenhouse gas emissions that result from their energy and water consumption, and the modes of travel they use. But this is no longer enough: proactive action is required address the impacts that ‘locked-in’ climate change will have.

Like all sectors of society, cultural organisations need to recognise the risk that climate change poses to how they work, where they work, and who they work with. They need to anticipate the likely adverse effects, and take appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or take advantage of opportunities that may arise.

However, the cultural sector is distinct from the sectors of infrastructure and construction, where adaptation knowledge and resource is often concentrated: it consists almost entirely of SMEs, with a huge public audience, with a huge variance of activity, typically funded through grant-giving bodies. Some of the sector’s needs when it comes to adaptation are therefore quite unique, whereas others are comparable to SMEs in general: logistics disruption, increasing travel and resource costs, altered audience accessibility and greater health & safety concerns are only a few of the potential impacts of climatic changes, with implications for the financial and reputational success of a cultural organisation, programme or event.

To prepare for our future, the cultural sector needs to:

  • Understand what changes are expected and why
  • Recognise the effects these will have on their work
  • Design and agree a plan of action to counter and avoid these effects: a strategy for adaptation.

Cultural Adaptations

Climate change is borderless, and international solutions are required for such an international problem. Working at the European level, in selected regions forecast to experience similar climatic changes and impacts (some already happening), Cultural Adaptations combines the learning of cultural organisations working at the local, national and international scale to generate ideas, guidance, leadership and support for peers across Europe.

  • One workshop will be held in each country for over 20 cultural managers: exploring the commonalities and national and local differences which shape climate change impacts, the adaptation options and their uptake.

  • Learning from each of the workshops will inform a digital resource, informing the wider sector of progress and emerging reflections as the project progresses.

  • A freely accessible toolkit will be produced, providing a methodology (including practical materials and guidance) to enable and support others to undertake the process of creating an adaptation strategy for their organisation.

This is, however, only the beginning of a longer process. We anticipate that many cultural organisations will be completely new to the concept of adaptation to climate change, and for many, Cultural Adaptations will be the start of a longer-term engagement with the concept and the partners of this project.

Cultural Adaptations is a developing project and you are invited to send in relevant resources including blogs, case studies and tools for consideration. Stay up to date with opportunities to participate in the project and the upcoming events, and toolkit development by registering for updates.

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