Museums have no borders,
they have a network

All news

June 10, 2024

Sharing is CaringSharing is Caring – Culture Greening Communities: Key messages from COP28

Claire McGuire

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, IFLA

Enabling people to understand the climate crisis and take action requires support for climate communication, education, access to information, and public participation. These social aspects of climate action are referred to as Climate Empowerment. Action for Climate Empowerment features in major international agreements, namely in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has been striving to bring together the library field with colleagues across the culture sector to highlight our critical roles in implementing ACE within our communities.

IFLA brought this conversation to the 28th UN Climate ChangeConference (COP28), held in Dubai, UAE in December 2023. The COP28 “Greening Education Hub”, hosted by the UAE Ministry of Education in partnership with UNESCO, provided a platform to spotlight and advocate for the role of education in combating climate change.

It aligned with the Action for Climate Empowerment agenda and with UNESCO’s Greening Education Partnership, a community of over 700 organisations and 80 Member States dedicated to getting every learner climate ready.

Culture Greening Communities

IFLA was selected to present a side event that highlighted the role of culture in greening education, especially following a community-based, lifelong learning approach. We were delighted to welcome an excellent group of speakers to join this conversation:

  • Aysha Kamali, UAE Permanent Delegation to UNESCO (UAE)
  • Nicolas Kramar, Nature Museum, State of Valais (Switzerland)
  • Eman Abushulaibi, Sharjah Public Library (UAE)
  • Ruqiya Hussain Hassan, Public Libraries, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (UAE)
  • Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan, Collage of Creative Agriculture for Society (CCAS), Srinakharinwirot University (Thailand)

This conversation highlighted key advocacy points and actions all stakeholders can take to support and grow the role of institutions like libraries and museums in climate empowerment.

Building on a foundation of international agreements that stress the importance of linking culture to climate education, speakers shared ideas on how to sustain and expand culture-based climate empowerment, as well as on how to monitor and share success.

Key Messages

At the request of the United Arab Emirates, UNESCO has called for international  cooperation an efforts to strengthen the role of education and culture for addressing climate change as a key contribution to climate action.

Following the UAE’s initiative, as an outcome of their October 2023 meeting, the UNESCO Executive Board:

  • Encourages Member States to join the Greening Education Partnership and integrate education for climate empowerment into all relevant sectors
  • Invites Member States to exchange good practice on culture based climate education
  • Recognises the need for the  meaningful  engagement  of  youth,  culture  professionals  and  educators, recognizing their role as agents of change
  • This initiative has responded to the need for specific action on linking culture and education in terms of addressing the climate crisis. It can serve as a basis for further calls to recognise the role that cultural stakeholders play in greening education and empowering climate action at the national and local levels.

What is needed to maintain and grow culture-based greening education initiatives?

For the culture sector:

  • Clear learning objectives set by cultural institutions to optimise their greening education programmes;
  • Continuity in support for teachers, educators, institutional staff, and knowledge holders to sustainably maintain their work;
  • Capacity-building, such as training opportunities and access to materials;
  • Increased knowledge exchange and cooperation between cultural institutions, including between museums, libraries, and other knowledge holders;

For Governments:

  • Greater coordination within countries to dismantle silos in education for sustainable development, integrating a whole-community approach;
  • Cooperation between cultural institutions/educators and municipal services and local or national authorities, recognising their role as partners in greening education;
  • Integration of cultural institutions into greening education plans at the subnational and national levels, including cooperation with ACE Focal Points and UNESCO National Committees

How can we measure and communicate success?

Speakers stressed that setting clear learning objectives can help measure success and communicate impact. Impact is challenging to measure, as participating in an event, exhibition, or lesson does not necessarily translate into behavioural change.

The case student of an integrated Indigenous curriculum uses the head, heart, and hand approach for a more holistic way to set learning objectives. The head measures what facts and abilities learners must acquire, such as language vocabulary. The heart measures what learners must be aware of in terms of personal responsibility, ethics, and active citizenship. The hand measures what learners must be able to do, such as explaining the connections between the Indigenous curriculum and Thai core curriculum.

Every sector and institution works within its own context and has its own ways to measure, so the need to find ways to coordinate is critical.  We can work towards:

  • Breaking down silos between cultural institutions
  • Exchanging on good practice and finding possibilities to collaborate
  • Sharing data on learning objectives and indicators
  • Working together with municipal and national climate education partners within ministries, local government, and national UNESCO committees
  • By working together to support and measure local impact, and sharing it on the national and international stage, we can highlight the crucial role of culture in greening communities and empowering climate action.

The presentations and outcomes from this discussion are summarised in the following resource, available to download from the IFLA Repository

Culture Greening Communities Brief