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Image credit: Unisphere, commissioned for the New York World’s Fair of 1964–65, courtesy of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs © Julienne Schaer

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Covid19 Impact and Policy Bulletin 6: Culture and the Climate Emergency

In our sixth WCCF COVID-19 Impact and Policy Bulletin we looked at how COVID-19 is affecting climate action plans for culture. We found three main areas of impact.

In our sixth WCCF COVID-19 Impact and Policy Bulletin we looked at how COVID-19 is affecting climate action plans for culture. We found three main areas of impact.


Positive and negative impacts:


  • Lockdowns have reduced industrial activity and travel, reducing greenhouse gases and pollutants. There has been less pressure on ecological systems, as well as increased engagement with nature during the pandemic.

  • However, there is increased use of single use plastic and medical waste, and risks of carbon emissions rebound as industries return to ‘business as usual’.

  • Longterm behavioural changes are not yet clear – there is an opportunity for governments to shape and support positive behavioural and attitude shifts.


Intensified challenges for cities and culture:


  • Competing priorities with limited resources has impacted on environmental action and forward planning.

  • Missed opportunities to embed green recovery in COVID-19 responses.

  • Culture is facing a crisis of survival, with severe impacts of lockdowns and loss of work across the sector. With reduced workforce, internal capacity and environmental skills have been lost.


New policy challenges:


  • How can policy makers find a common ground between mainstream economic restart objective and climate action?



We identified five priorities for cities in the recovery period:


Limit emissions rebound



Drive collaboration


  • Recovery provides opportunities for culture to collaborate

  • Cultural policy must align with local social and environmental strategies; urban design; education and distance-learning; digital services; tourism; employment and reskilling

  • This also presents opportunities to attract different types of funding


Support transition


  • Seize opportunities for growth in the low carbon and circular economy

  • Cultural organisations can maximise the opportunities of a ‘green recovery’ with support and capacity building


Align funding


  • Cultural recovery funding must be linked to environmental targets

  • Raise awareness of the value of culture among other public and private investors

  • Cultural spaces and programmes can influence audiences’ environmental behaviours


Revive engagement


  • Capture public interest in the transformational climate agenda

  • Culture provides many opportunities for targeted engagement and community building

  • Many cultural leaders are looking to go beyond ‘recovery’ and contribute to transformation on a more systemic level


Download the full report below. With thanks to our research partner Julie’s Bicycle.

Culture and the Climate Emergency

5 Priorities for World Cities in the post-covid recovery period

Apr 22, 2021

Green Cities helping climate change through culture and sustainability

Nov 4, 2021

How are major cities around the world responding to climate change through cultural policies and programmes?

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability

Paul Owens

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Apr 22, 2021

5 Priorities for World Cities in the post-covid recovery period

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Paul Owens

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Dec 4, 2020

Culture can play an important role in recovery and renewal across the UK, if the right local decision-making is put in place

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Callum Lee

Central London’s celebrated

Sep 23, 2020

This focused, coordinated set of measures can not only rescue the sector, but position it to lead the recovery

Central London’s celebrated cultural offer is in peril

Jonathan Todd

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Aug 21, 2020

Three big questions as applications close for Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Jul 30, 2020

The UK’s £1.57 billion recovery package: priorities for a New Deal

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Jul 20, 2020

Cities are using their unique capabilities to lead recovery and renewal

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Jul 7, 2020

Investing in recovery, planning for transformation

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Paul Owens

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Jun 30, 2020

Recovery and renewal will depend on how we address the three dimensions of the crisis

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Paul Owens

Take planning and collaboration to whole a new level.

Jun 3, 2020

In the face of radical uncertainty leaders and policy-makers will have to take planning and collaboration to whole a new level

‘Plans are useless, planning is essential’

Paul Owens

Relief, Recovery and Renewal

May 13, 2020

Nobody knows what will happen next, but we have a good idea of the three necessary steps out of the crisis

Relief, Recovery and Renewal: navigating our way to a new kind of future

Paul Owens

The Golden Thread in the 2020s

Dec 20, 2019

A cause for optimism

Weaving the Golden Thread into the 2020s

Paul Owens

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By BOP Consulting

Paul Owens

Co-Founder and Director

Paul is a leading international advisor and practitioner in cultural policy and creative economy. He is Co-Founder of BOP, and alongside his fellow directors he has pioneered now well-established methods to measure the impact of cultural policy. 

Paul Owens - Founder and Director | BOP Consulting

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Paul Owens

Paul Owens

Co-Founder and Director