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From Fiji to Fort Worth and Fortaleza to Freiburg, UN to spotlight role of arts and culture in climate action

UNFCCC spokesperson, Nick Nuttall (middle), with Julie’s Bicycle CEO, Alison Tickell (right) and a representative of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group at the Salzburg Global Seminar

Effective from Friday, March 10 2017, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be shining a weekly spotlight on arts and cultural responses to climate change and global efforts to take action. The UN body in return expects feedbacks in respect of innovative and cutting edge projects.

Across the globe the arts and cultural community has been rising to the challenge of climate change: turning venues and events into laboratories for sustainable living; policymakers working with artists, audiences and consumers campaigning for change; cultural leaders speaking out; and artists producing work that speaks to the heart.

Each week, the UNFCCC will showcase one arts initiative that celebrates innovation, courage, and inspiration. This idea was inspired at a Salzburg Global Seminar on The Art of Resilience: Creativity, Courage, Renewal which brought together UNFCCC spokesperson Nick Nuttall, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and artists from around the globe, convened by Julie’s Bicycle, a UK-based charity which works with the creative community on climate change and sustainability.

The UNFCCC states that human beings live by values shaped through culture, communities, and experiences, adding that policy is increasingly recognising the importance of culture to sustainable development.

“Who we identify with, how our values are expressed, and how we ‘feel’ about the world are all critical triggers for change. The creative community, existing as it does at the heart of culture, has a particular part to play.”

The organisation believes highlighting creative responses to climate change will provide a vital way to set the scene as nations work to implement their commitments under the Paris Climate Change Agreement and as it prepares for the next annual UN climate conference taking place in Bonn, Germany in November 2017 under the Presidency of the Pacific small island of Fiji.

Mr Nuttall says: “Art and cultural works, from painting and sculpture to theatre, music and poetry have the unique power to shift perceptions and provide emotional connections to complex issues that are facing communities and countries world-wide”.

“There can be few subjects as complex and as challenging as the existential threat of climate change, but we need the arts to shape the discourse and provide new impulses for action. For it is the decisions taken today by governments but also individuals, cities and companies that will echo down the centuries, defining the lives of billions of people alive today and many more who are yet to be born,” he adds.

UNFCCC points out that it is looking for creative responses to climate change to be featured on its website in a weekly feature. “Send 100 words briefly outlining the project, how it is addressing climate change, and what the impact has been, along with any images and weblinks to us. Chosen stories will be contacted and asked for a 200 to 500-word write-up to be shaped together with the UNFCCC communications team,” it concludes.

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