The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is officially underway in Glasgow, UK.

Global leaders are coming together to discuss plans to achieve global net zero greenhouse gas emissions and to limit global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Alongside this, cultural actors have been active in highlighting the role of culture in enabling the wide-spread societal transformation that achieving these ambitious goals will require.

Climate Heritage Network and IFLA

IFLA is involved in a variety of COP26 related events with the Climate Heritage Network (CHN) – of which IFLA is a proud founding member.

IFLA representatives participated in the Climate Heritage Network General Assembly to present outcomes from the past two years of activities. Visit the CHN Climate Resource Library for more. During this event, IFLA reiterated the commitment of libraries to empowering their communities for climate action through their collections, programmes, and spaces.

Following this event was the launch of the Race to Resilience Culture Initiative on 2 November. The Climate Heritage Network has been accepted as a Partner for the Race to Resilience global campaign. This campaign seeks to build climate resilience by increasing and refocusing global ambition, putting people and nature first.

According to the Climate Heritage Network: “The inclusion of the Climate Heritage Network in the Race to Resilience breaks new ground by providing a global platform for mobilising cultural actors – from arts to heritage – behind culture-based strategies for building the resilience of vulnerable groups and communities everywhere by 2030”.

See the concept note for this project here: Race to Resilience Culture Initiative

Libraries feature in Resilience-Building

During the launch event, IFLA’s Secretary General Gerald Leitner joined a line-up of cultural activists, representatives from cultural organisations, and performers from around the world to strengthen the call to view culture as a key to resilience.

He stressed that culture and cultural expressions must be accessible to everyone, because for culture-based strategies to enable us to build a more resilient world, they need to be inclusive. This is close to the heart of IFLA’s vision: a strong and united field powering literate, informed, participative and crucially, resilient, societies.

He remarked that culture and the arts help connect people to the past and to one another. Arts like the written and spoken word move, inform, and enable action at all levels. As such, it was IFLA’s great honour to introduce a performance from the poet, film maker and musician Rosanne Watt. Her performance was a testament to the power of words to move and to change outlooks towards changing behaviours.

Culture as a Tool for Resilience

Throughout the event, speakers shared personal statements on culture as a dimension of community resilience, highlighting how culture intersects with promoting a diversity of knowledge systems and livelihoods, with creativity and adaptive learning, and with equality and justice.

Karima Bennoune, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, stressed that culture is essential for human-rights based climate action and is vital for the societal change necessary for future resilience. Simply put, culture helps us reimagine the world.

“Culture and cultural rights are vulnerable due to climate change, but also vital tools for adaptation to change and stress. Culture is embedded in social resilience and adaptation… culture and cultural rights – through creativity, diversity, heritage and knowledge are probably the best tools to enable the society transformation call by the IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to meet the 1.5º target.”

These remarks echo the Special Rapporteur’s keynote address at IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress 2021, in which she stressed that culture and cultural institutions like libraries have a core role in identifying, imagining, and constructing solutions to the climate crisis.

Coming Up

IFLA will be involved in several more COP26 events in the coming week. See the past Get Ready for COP26 stores for more information.

Get Ready for COP26: Involve Libraries in the Conversation

Get Ready for COP26: Register to engage globally on virtual platforms

Get Ready for COP26: Revisit the “Libraries Sustain” Keynote Speech