Image Gradient
BOP Consulting Logo | HomeButton
Green cities
image gradient

Image Credit: Nerea Martí Sesarino

Download Project Report

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability – Special Report Prepared for WCCF Global Conversation

The report published by the World Cities Culture Forum looks at how major cities around the world are responding to climate change through cultural policies and programmes.

Green cities

To accompany the most recent World Cities Culture Forum’s Global Conversation coinciding with COP 26, this new report prepared by BOP looks at how major cities around the world are responding to climate change through cultural policies and programmes. 


The Director and Chair of the Forum make clear in their foreword to the report that as cities recover from the impact of Covid-19 issues of sustainability must be at the heart of this – it will not be enough to get back to where we were, but rather to put the policies in place that will ensure that cities are thriving places to live and work for decades to come.



The urgency around this is clear 

Climate change is a crisis that threatens the entire planet, and that includes its major cities. Many of the world’s most populous urban settlements are built along coasts and estuaries, and as extreme weather events have become more common, even the most prosperous of cities are suffering the effects. In the face of the emergency, cities around the world are increasingly recognising that culture will be a part of their response.


A survey of Forum members presented in the report demonstrates the extent to which city governments regard environmental issues as a major priority for their administration, with more than half of members having declared a climate emergency. Some 57% of cities’ cultural policies make reference to environmental challenges, and these policies take the form of practical actions and investment: investing in low-carbon cultural venues, commissioning artworks with environment themes, and providing relevant training for the sector. However, much more still needs to be done – particularly in terms of embedding climate change more strategically and within management processes, including dedicated budgets, working across departments and monitoring and reporting requirements.


To get a better sense of what needs to happen, leading global experts from across sectors were interviewed to build up a picture of the environmental challenges that cities face, and the ways in which culture can address them. A repeated message was that culture has a distinctive and vital role to play in terms of helping citizens to reimagine what their cities can look like, and drive positive behavioural change. As Lucy Latham from the Carbon Disclosure Project says: “Arts and culture are unique in how they can shift narratives and make issues that can be polarising relevant to a broad variety of people. They can make challenges understandable and actions inspirational.”


Many Forum members are working to achieve this 

Case studies in the report, ranging from Chengdu’s Park City plan through to Buenos Aires’s citizen engagement programmes demonstrate how culture and the environment are becoming central pillars to the infrastructure, values and identity of cities. But the report is anything but complacent and puts forward five imperatives for cultural policy in a climate emergency. These constitute a bold rallying cry, declaring that the seriousness of the crisis means that all arms of city government must take action and urging an increasing role for culture in terms of inspiring citizens, hardwiring climate impacts into policies and decisions, investing at scale and putting in place the cultural infrastructure that reflects the values of good stewardship and long-term consideration for a city’s future.

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability

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

Nov 4, 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

Related Articles

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

Planning a new project?

If you are interested to learn more about our work or if you have a project you would like to discuss, get in touch.

SHARE ARTICLE
Paul Owens

Paul Owens

Co-Founder and Director