Culture & Environment Roundtables

International conversations

In 2021, a series of digital Culture and Environment Roundtables were held in four countries: Turkey, Indonesia, Colombia and Nigeria, plus a final event in Milan to tie the findings together.

“Calling for urgent action does little to help people understand how to respond concretely. Art does not tell people what to do, it touches people’s hearts.”
Speaker, Turkey Roundtable
Participants & speakers

Participants from environmental and cultural fields came together – including policy-makers, municipalities, artists and cultural organisations – to explore how culture, and cultural policy specifically, is responding to the climate crisis.

Insights & conclusions

Each Roundtable was held under amended Chatham House Rule, but the findings were collated into four summary reports.

In spite of different cultural contexts, many of the themes and insights were shared.

"Art and culture, if allowed to engage in conversations and collaboration on the modalities of the city's 'shared spaces', offers an opportunity to enrich and reframe the public realm."
Speaker, Nigeria Roundtable
Wider research

Overarching conclusions were fed into Julie’s Bicycle’s wider international research Culture: The Missing Link to Climate Action Summary Report.

Roundtables' Conclusions

Governments should recognise that culture has been finding solutions to the climate crisis, but the sector needs resources dedicated to environmental work.
There is environmental expertise in the cultural sector already, which could be supporting national policy-making.
Cultural policy-making should be collaborative, participatory, and co-created with people on the ground.
Climate change is a cultural relations issue and a global response is needed. Solutions often scale in ways that are sector-specific, place-based and adaptable to cultural contexts.
Climate justice is also cultural justice. Funding and resources in the sector are still unfairly distributed in ways that mirror global inequalities.
An equitable exchange is critical in international collaborations. Programmes should be designed around the agency of local artists and creative organisations to determine their needs, moving beyond just asking those on the frontlines of climate change to tell their stories for audiences in the Global North.
Policy responses to cultural recovery (from COVID) needs to focus on the just transition.
Opportunities to build a creative economy that offers low-carbon employment opportunities at the intersection of heritage, design, social enterprise, and creative skills are growing. This could be leveraged by ensuring policy frameworks are aligned with international climate targets.

Read the Roundtable Summary Reports

Julie’s Bicycle convened the Roundtables, alongside four in-country organisations, in partnership with The British Council for The Climate Connection, a global programme for dialogue, cooperation and action against climate change, in the lead up to the United Nations climate conference, COP26.

Thanks to all of our partners, participants, speakers, technical and events teams, and visual minute-takers. Thanks, too, to the British Council teams around the world.

"Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I'll never reach it. So, what's the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.” 
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