As we head towards COP28 UAE in Dubai, in November, the British Council is continuing to provide opportunities for people around the world to tackle climate change through arts and culture, education and English. Here we look at a few examples of our work – and stay tuned for more updates coming soon.
Since COP26, the Climate Connection has reached more than 245 million people in over 200 countries and has built connections with over 7,500 organisations.
There is strong evidence to show how the programme has supported young people to take real action, built the capacity of early-career researchers and provided a positive impact for its partners.
There is emerging evidence of the programme supporting teachers to embed climate content in the classroom, supporting researchers to turn their research into usable solutions, and helping to influence climate education and cultural policy.
During COP26 and COP27 we provided global platforms for people around the world to interact in the climate debate and find new solutions to our shared climate challenge.
We also had a direct presence at both conferences to showcase the impact of the arts, education and English on the climate challenge and providing opportunities for people – and young people in particular – to participate in meaningful dialogue and action.
Read more about the highlights of our activities for COP27 here.
We are continuing this legacy for COP28, where we’ll continue to engage and build partnerships with more leaders, institutions, young people and wider communities, to support them to respond to global climate challenges.
Supporting the next generation of climate leaders
We are continuing to provide opportunities for young people across the world, especially those affected by climate change, to participate in climate research and projects addressing just transition, green skills and promoting gender equality, equity and leadership in combating climate change challenges.
In the lead up to and during COP28, we will work with our partners, including YOUNGO, to put young people at the heart of climate solutions as future climate leaders.
We’re also continuing to support global youth networks, such as the Climate Youth Negotiators, as they provide valuable training and platforms for young people in the lead up to and during COP28.
Through our Challenge Grants for Young People, we are providing scale-up support for a series of youth-led climate projects first started during COP26, helping to make more of an impact in communities worldwide and tackle issues at the grassroots level.
Teachers and students will have more opportunities to learn about and engage in climate action, including climate simulation events building on our UK-Egypt events for COP27 and practical classroom resources for exploring climate issues in the classroom and encouraging students to take action. Since COP26, more than 18,000 teachers have downloaded our resources, and this looks set to grow on the journey towards COP28.
Higher education and science
As part of our partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities, 20 more early-career researchers from around the world are getting the chance to take part in a one-year applied training and development programme, through the Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort project.
In partnership with the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities, we’ve awarded 13 new Earth scholarships, which are giving early-career researchers from 11 the chance to collaborate with Scottish higher education institutions and academic mentors in environmental arts and humanities.
We are continuing to expand our Climate Action in Language Education programme with new resources, training courses and webinars for English teachers around the world to explore climate action in the classrooms. Since COP26, these resources have received more than 48,000 downloads.
Arts and culture
As part of our culture and development work, we seek to strengthen and celebrate culture’s contribution to sustainable development, with a key focus on commissioning new work that engages audiences to respond to the climate emergency, as well as supporting cultural organisations and festivals’ understanding and development of sustainable practices.
We are supporting a new series of Creative Commissions in the Middle East and East and South Asia. Through our Circular Culture offer, we will continue to support cultural festivals in Latin America to improve their sustainability action plans and achieve net zero targets. Our Making Matters will continue to support research and development of new materials in the architecture, fashion and crafts sectors (and foster dialogue around circular design) in the EU and India.
Our previous projects continue to build on their impact and legacy: Exeter University is building on their We Still Have a Chance Creative Commission for COP27 through a new international collaborative project called 12 Poems for 12 Days of COP28. Linking science, health, arts, education and humanities, this collaboration raises awareness of the urgent need for collective climate action.
Undead Matter launched in March their Dissolving Earths Creative Commission - an online programme of artist commissions, texts and podcasts that seek new dialogues with our geological pasts. The programme explores the vast expanse of the precarious Siberian permafrost landscape; a thriving ecosystem, teaming with life, mythology, histories and futures, hidden just below the surface.
Also in March, our culture and climate summit in partnership with Art Jameel, in Dubai, brought together 20 cultural leaders and policymakers from the UAE, KSA, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Turkey and the UK to explore the role of the cultural sector in driving sustainable change related to the climate crisis. Outputs included a shared sustainability charter for cultural organisations across MENA, and a toolkit reflecting regional climate challenges experienced by museums and art spaces.
A second culture and climate summit in Egypt, in May, explored the interface between the cultural sector and the global climate crisis. Led by Orient Productions in Egypt, and Julie’s Bicycle in the UK, the summit brought together 20 leading cultural voices in Egypt to explore the international and local dimensions of culture and climate action.
Through our Cultural Protection Fund (managed in partnership with DCMS) continue to support efforts to protect cultural heritage at risk, by creating sustainable opportunities for economic and social development through building capacity to foster, safeguard and promote cultural heritage.