News  |  Posted March 3, 2020

Society joins the Climate Heritage Network

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland has joined the Climate Heritage Network, a voluntary, mutual support network committed to aiding their communities in tackling climate change and achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.  The immense power of arts, culture and heritage to drive just and transformative climate action often goes untapped. The Climate Heritage Network was launched in October 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland, by over 70 arts, culture and heritage organisations committed to unlocking this potential. The Network is expanding rapidly, as evidenced by 45 new members including the Society since the launch.

In late 2019 the CHN released its initial plan to help mobilise arts, culture and heritage for climate action at a side event held in Madrid at COP25, the 2019 UN Climate Summit. Dubbed the Madrid-to-Glasgow Arts, Culture and Heritage Climate Action Plan, its release kicked off a year of culture-based climate action that will culminate at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Climate Heritage Network aims to unite diverse actors across the arts, culture and heritage spectrum as part of the climate action movement. Ms. Suwaree Wongkongkaew, Director of the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre and a CHN Steering Committee member, described the CHN’s philosophy this way:

In Chiang Mai the connection between our culture, our life, and our environment is a mutual relationship, a strength, and inseparable. In the current situation, when we face climate problems that are rapidly escalating, the power of arts and culture can be used. We are working as a coalition to use cultural power to restore and protect the environment and cross the boundaries of familiarity, no longer separating government or general public.”

The 45 new CHN members reflect this diversity and include national, regional and local government bodies; cultural institutions and indigenous peoples’ organisations, as well as NGOs, universities, businesses and artists. Several of the new members are themselves international networks, including NEMO – Network of European Museum Organisations and the International Music Council.

Climate change is a global phenomenon. The CHN works to connect groups around the world and to promote solidarity with communities on the frontlines of climate change. Reflecting this global commitment, the 45 new CHN members represent Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Greenland, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, as well as the USA, United Kingdom and countries across Europe. Collectively, they draw from each of the CHN’s five regions: North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and CIS, Africa and the Arab States, and Asia-Pacific.

One hallmark of the CHN is the members’ commitment to working collaboratively. In 2019 the CHN released its first action plan at an event held in Madrid at COP25, the 2019 UN Climate Summit. Dubbed the Madrid-to-Glasgow Arts, Culture and Heritage Climate Action Plan, the plan’s release kicks off a year of culture-based climate action that will culminate in 2020 at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The plan’s activities will be implemented by volunteer working groups made up of CHN members. Dr Ewan Hyslop, Head of Technical Research & Science at Historic Environment Scotland and a Co-Chair of the Climate Heritage Network describes the value of the CHN approach this way:

Successfully transitioning to a low-carbon future and adapting to environmental changes already underway requires individuals, organisations, governments and communities to work together. The Climate Heritage Network provides an opportunity to develop new and creative partnerships, strengthen those that already exist and pool expertise and knowledge from all corners of the world. Together, we can demonstrate what meaningful climate action looks like, and share our experiences and perspective with others.”

Climate change is one of the most significant and fastest growing threats to people and their cultural heritage worldwide. 2020 will be a critical year for climate action. The CHN aims to foreground the cultural dimensions of global climate action and to create a roadmap that will allow every arts, culture and heritage-related organization to do its part.  The 45 members added today contribute immeasurably to that cause.

With every conversation, every new partner, every opportunity, we advance greater solutions into action. Cultural heritage supports communities towards a low carbon, resilient future.  Further, faster, together” said Julianne Polanco, California State Historic Preservation Officer and a CHN Co-Chair.