This research considers how national cultural policy can strengthen the creative climate movement, and thereby mobilise action at scale. It builds on a similar study in 2015 conducted just before the Paris COP21. The report combines data analysing publicly available national arts policies of 25 ODA countries with insights from a survey to arts and culture bodies with a national mandate and 173 ministries, and in-depth roundtables and interviews with leading international arts leaders.

Key insights

  • National policies for culture and the arts generally are still not yet aligned to climate science, nor to national commitments under the Paris Agreement.
  • Most responding arts councils, cultural ministries, or public arts development agencies (73 per cent) do not currently feel they have a statutory mandate to address climate or environmental issues in public cultural policy or strategy. 
  • About half (40 per cent) volunteered that this lack of legal mandate was a key barrier to linking cultural policy with climate or environmental issues.
  • A majority of responding national public cultural policymakers (84 per cent) Strongly Agree or Agree that ‘environmental issues are relevant to my country’s cultural policy’; however, less than a third (26 per cent) independently made references to environment or climate as priorities for arts and culture in their country.
  • Only two-thirds of respondents have an existing relationship with the national ministry for the environment and/or climate change in their country (63 per cent).

Contributing to climate action

The report provides examples of the arts and cultural sector embracing environmental action, particularly at the local and grassroots level. It shows how cultural ambition everywhere is high, solutions abound, and creativity is in abundant supply. However, it finds that national cultural policy has not kept pace. It highlights an immediate opportunity to address this through policy dialogue with national policymakers, and it provides timely new evidence and insight to support that dialogue. 

Reinforcing COP26 priorities

By strengthening cooperation between the UK and the world, and between sectors and communities, this work helps to support COP26 objectives by laying the foundations for future collaboration on climate change.

Who’s involved?

This research was led by Julie’s Bicycle with partners from many parts of the world as part of a programme of work in partnership with The British Council for The Climate Connection.

Why the British Council?

As trusted cultural facilitators with an extensive global network, the British Council can provide the open, transparent, and inclusive spaces for dialogue that this research concludes are essential to bring together government and community, build understanding, and respect different perspectives. The research argues that, while a global response to the climate crisis is needed, solutions often scale in ways that are sector-specific, place-based and adaptable to cultural contexts. The British Council’s cultural relations approach is grounded in such sensitivity to local context and our programmes can support and enable the report’s recommendations and call to action.