COP28 Embraces cultural heritage in climate change policy for a more holistic approach

Dubai, UAE – December 19, 2023 – COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Dubai, concluded with a landmark development: it was the first time that the Conference of the Parties (COP) significantly recognized the role of heritage in climate change discussions. Spearheaded by the Climate Heritage Network (CHN) and supported by participating countries, including the host UAE, the conference uniquely emphasized the integration of cultural heritage, arts, and creative industries into climate policy.

The Climate Heritage Network (CHN), along with over 25 nations including the host, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Brazil as a co-chair, initiated the Group of Friends of Culture-Based Climate Action (GFCBCA). This group signifies an international commitment to include cultural heritage, arts, and creative industries in the climate discourse. A key feature of COP28 was the first-ever High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Culture-based Climate Action, highlighting the integral role of cultural heritage in climate adaptation strategies.

Growing importance of culture
The conference also saw significant cultural advocacy. The #EndFossilFuels rally, led by participants from the COP28 Entertainment + Culture Pavilion, underscored the growing importance of cultural expressions in climate activism. This event, organized by Samuel Rubin, demonstrated the power of cultural mediums in conveying messages about climate action.

WE DID IT! COP28 has delivered the most significant outcome for culture in COP history. 

Climate Heritage Network

GST Culture Gap
Despite these advancements, COP28’s primary decision, the Global Stocktake (GST), revealed a gap: the “GST Culture Gap”. This gap refers to the lack of focus on socio-cultural enablers in climate action, which could impact the effectiveness and inclusivity of future climate policies. To address this, CHN members are advocating for the inclusion of cultural aspects in climate action at the upcoming COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan. They aim to establish a Joint Work on Culture and Climate Action, leading to the creation of the first-ever Work Plan on Culture under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by COP30 in Belém, Brazil, in 2025. This plan is expected to fill the GST Culture Gap and enhance the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) due in 2025.

Pivotal moment
COP28 is seen as a pivotal moment in integrating cultural perspectives into climate policy. This integration is expected to bring a more holistic, inclusive, and effective approach to tackling the global climate crisis. The CHN, along with the Group of Friends, the UNFCCC, and future COP presidencies, is committed to ensuring that socio-cultural dimensions are integral to the climate action narrative. This approach is anticipated to lead to more equitable and resilient strategies for addressing climate change, recognizing the indispensable role of culture in these efforts.

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