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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday June 7, 2023

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Marco Fiore

Marco Fiore

Policy and Project Officer , Michael Culture Association

portrait of Susan Hazan

Susan Hazan

CEO , Digital Heritage Israel

Embracing the Green Path: the Europeana Climate Action Community’s take on World Environment Day

With this week marking World Environment Day, Susan Hazan and Marco Fiore of the Europeana Climate Action Community Steering Group share the Community’s vision for positive climate action in the cultural heritage sector. Read on to discover what the Community is doing to take a stand for the planet and how you can get involved!

A woman in a long dress and hat stands beside a lake, looking at the colourful flowers which grow next to it
Karin at the shore
Carl Larsson
Malmö Konstmuseum

What concerns led to the creation of the Climate Action Community?

The world is facing an unprecedented climate emergency, the magnitude of which surpasses anything we have previously encountered. Our environment, the ecosystem that sustains all life on earth, is threatened as never before. It is a global problem that calls for global solutions, but also requires each of us to act in our own spheres of influence. In line with its public mission and key role as places for community building and knowledge-sharing, the cultural heritage world can and must play a role in tackling the climate emergency. This premise led to the creation of our community and is at the very heart of everything we do.

Can you tell us about the work and guiding principles of the Europeana Climate Action Community?

The ongoing work of our Climate Action Community is anchored in the Europeana Climate Action Manifesto, published in 2021. The Manifesto outlines our commitment to mitigating the impact of climate change, upholding the values of sustainability, reducing carbon footprints, and advocating for green digital practices in the cultural heritage sector. These actions are not mere statements; they are a call to action and a roadmap for how we as a community intend to drive environmental change. This Manifesto also aims at guiding and inspiring the work of the Europeana Initiative as a whole when it comes to climate, sustainability and the green transition.

The following core ideas underpin the work of our Community and inspire the Europeana Initiative’s approach.

  1. Inspiring action through cultural heritage: we recognise the power of cultural heritage in raising awareness and inspiring action. By showcasing stories, images, and resources that illustrate the impacts of climate change, we aim to engage individuals and communities in the fight against climate change.

  2. Reducing our own carbon footprint: at the Climate Action Community and the Europeana Initiative, we acknowledge our responsibility to minimise our own environmental impact. By implementing sustainable practices within our organisation we aim to lead by example.

  3. Fostering collaboration and innovation: we believe that collaboration is key to driving meaningful change. We actively seek partnerships with cultural heritage institutions, policymakers, researchers, and the wider public to foster innovative solutions for climate action. By connecting diverse stakeholders, we encourage knowledge-sharing and promote collective efforts towards sustainability.

How is the Community inspiring professionals in the cultural heritage sector to take action?

As a key player in the European digital cultural heritage landscape and as steward of the common European data space for cultural heritage, we firmly believe that the Europeana Initiative has a role and responsibility towards the wider societal commitment to environmental sustainability. The work of our community therefore aims to drive positive change, leveraging our unique position to inspire other institutions and individuals. This includes facilitating collaboration between cultural heritage institutions, creating and implementing sustainable digital practices, contributing to build capacities and providing the tools and resources necessary to drive climate action in our sector.

As part of our commitment, we are currently working on a pan-European survey to better understand how cultural heritage institutions mainstream sustainability in their digital information management and preservation practice. We also see an enormous potential in Europeana Initiative’s vast collection of cultural heritage data to raise awareness about the climate crisis. In the future, we will continue to develop exhibitions, events and capacity- building resources that illustrate the devastating impact of climate change on our heritage and prompt heritage professionals to take action.

How is the Community and the Europeana Initiative ‘walking the walk’?

We are committed to leading by example, firstly in our community but in the work of the Europeana Initiative as a whole.

In our Community, we aim to reduce our own carbon footprint and implement greener digital practices. We actively engage in various measures to promote sustainability, such as reducing energy consumption by adjusting video quality during our events and opting for sustainable travel alternatives to minimise our carbon footprint.

The wider Initiative is also committed to embed eco-thinking in the digital transformation, inspired by our Manifesto. The Europeana Foundation, for instance, systematically researches its carbon footprint and shares its learnings to inspire and help other organisations.

In the future, we will continue to strive to make our operations more energy-efficient, reducing the environmental impact of our data storage and processing, and leveraging renewable energy sources wherever possible.

Can you tell us more about collaboration and partnerships for positive climate action?

We believe that collaboration is key in the fight against climate change. We are therefore actively fostering partnerships with other institutions, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and best practices. A recent example is the series of workshops organised by our Community in collaboration with Ki Culture and supported by Europeana Foundation. Through this collaboration, we aim at raising awareness of and improving the skills of cultural heritage professionals on sustainability and sustainable digital cultural heritage management.

How can others contribute to this work?

We encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your relationship with the environment and the necessity of climate action. If you would like to learn about actions you can take in your own institution, check out relevant webinars on climate action and join the Europeana Climate Action Community today!

You can also still register for the third and final webinar of our Europeana-Ki Culture Sustainability Workshop Series, which will take place tomorrow on 8 June. Hear from experts and discover better digital information management practice!