Overlooked: Cultural Institutions, Climate Change & the Global Climate Action Summit

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In the void of federal environmental leadership created by the US intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, voices are rising from unexpected places, including the cultural sector, and they're showing up at the Global Climate Action Summit as part of We Are Still In.

Cultural Institutions Step Up on Climate with We Are Still In

California Academy of Sciences and Monterey Bay Aquarium were first in. Now the group reaches to Maine and Miami. We Are Still In is how cultural institutions can align their abilities, resources, and influence with the work and resources of other sectors for the greater good.

They ignored President Trump.

Economic sectors from big business to financial investors, state governance and higher education ignored the President of the United States on June 1, 2017, when he announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. They kept on doing the work they believe in.

In the void of federal environmental leadership, voices are rising from overlooked and unexpected places, including the cultural sector.

#MuseumsforParis was born that day in June last year, in a home office in Waialua, Hawai’i. Sarah Sutton, a sustainability consultant for cultural institutions (https://www.sustainablemuseums.net), began developing the core group of what recently became the Cultural Institutions sector at We Are Still In (WASI https://www.wearestillin.com), the largest coalition of subnational actors supporting the Paris Agreement – anywhere.

Sutton started #MuseumsforParis by inviting California Academy of Sciences and the Monterey Bay Aquarium to sign on, then broadening the list. The Abbe Museum and the Brick Store Museum, both in Maine, signed on; so did Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, a site that battles monthly, sometimes weekly, “nuisance” flooding in its historic sites’ basements. Vizcaya in Miami signed on, as did The Field Museum, The Climate Museum, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. These institutions were already committed to environmental sustainability and climate response; We Are Still In became an opportunity to showcase their work and find ways to do more, to do better. The purpose is to align the significant abilities, resources, and influence of our sector, with the work and resources of other sectors, to address institutional and community challenges, and opportunities associated with environmental sustainability and a changing climate -- for the benefit of us all.

Thirty-seven cultural institutions nationwide have signed on, and some are showing up at the Global Climate Action Summit to attend the We Are Still In Forum on June 12th. They’ll be joining peers in other sectors to demonstrate that America is still in the Agreement. The Field Museum, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, New England Aquarium and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens are sending staff. The San Francisco Zoo is representing the National Network of Ocean & Climate Change Interpreters. Sarah Sutton is attending the WASI forum as Sector Lead, plus three other Affiliated Events, and is an invited delegate for the main Summit events on the 13th and 14th.

Human future depends upon multiple, sustained, coordinated, and adaptive efforts in the face of climate change. Every person must participate in the change. In the United States museums alone see 850 million visitors a year (AAM 2017). “Visitors to zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, nature centers, and natural history museums make up a tenth of the people on the planet.” (George Rabb, The Ark and Beyond – The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation, Chicago Press, 2018). These institutions’ public programs are key to developing public environmental literacy and awareness that leads to widespread, make-the-difference change. The research and conservation work at these institutions saves species from extinction. Their landscapes, buildings, and infrastructure are ecosystem resources for their community.

For more information on the Cultural Institutions Sector for We Are Still In, and stories from the Global Climate Action Summit, contact Sarah Sutton at 978-505-4515 and sarah(at)sustainablemuseums.net.

For more information on We Are Still ln and its inclusion of the Cultural Institutions sector, contact Elan Strait, World Wildlife Fund at Elan.Strait(at)wwfus.org

For more information on why institutions are joining We Are Still In AND attending the summit contact:

̵ Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Executive Director Joel Hoffman: Joel.Hoffman(at)vizcaya.org
̵ The Field Museum, Carter O’Brien cobrien(at)fieldmuseum.org
̵ Monterey Bay Aquarium, Claudia P. Tibbs: cptibbs(at)mbayaq.org

A WASI signatory unable to join the Summit

̵ Strawbery Banke Museum, Rodney Rowland: rrowland(at)strawberybanke.org

Note:
We Are Still In is made up of 20+ organizations including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ceres, Climate Mayors, Climate Nexus, Environmental Defense Fund, Rocky Mountain Institute, Second Nature, Sierra Club, Sustainable Museums, The Climate Group, We Mean Business, and World Wildlife Fund. The Secretariat, made up of World Wildlife Fund, Ceres, and Climate Nexus, manages the day-to-day operations. The Leadership Team, made up of point people from each sector, coordinates the participation of the more than 2500 signatories from higher education, faith organizations, health care, business and investors, state and tribes, and cities and counties.

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Sarah Sutton
Sustainable Museums

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