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November 11, 2022

SustainabilityStatement: Museums and Climate Activism

Following the recent climate activism actions in museums, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) wishes to acknowledge and share both the concerns expressed by museums regarding the safety of collections and the concerns of climate activists as we face an environmental catastrophe that threatens life on Earth. ICOM sees the choice of museums as a backdrop for these climate protests as a testament of their symbolic power and relevance in the discussions around the climate emergency.

ICOM wishes to recall the role of museums as key actors in initiating and supporting climate action with their communities and commends their commitment to this mission demonstrated through educational programmes, dedicated exhibitions, community outreach and research. ICOM calls attention to the impact that these demonstrations could have on the work of museum professionals and volunteers who strive to protect and promote these valuable items of heritage for the enjoyment of the public. To reach the full transformative potential that museums have for sustainable development, ICOM wishes for museums to be seen as allies in facing the common threat of climate change.

As global leaders, policymakers, and civil society meet in Sharm El-Sheik for COP27, ICOM recalls the need for courageous action to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate global warming. Climate change poses a growing threat for cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, museums, and their collections — from natural disasters to growing difficulties in maintaining conservation conditions due to extreme weather

Recalling its Resolution No.1 “On sustainability and the implementation of Agenda 2030, Transforming our World” (Kyoto, 2019), ICOM reiterates that all museums, as trusted institutions, have a role to play in shaping and creating a sustainable future. Civil society is a key actor in climate action: from NGOs, networks, and activists to cultural institutions and museums. We must step up for our planet collectively and united, for there is no climate solution without transforming our world.

Photo credit: Just Stop Oil