#5.2 In Your Practice or Organisation: Care-taking

This step is about working with colleagues, if possible, to discuss how you will prepare for the impacts of the Earth crises and protect your assets and communities. 

A pair of open palm hands photographed over a large pot with a seedling growing. One hadn holds soil, the other holds dried roots of a plant.
Photo: Jaime Jackson and Great Imagining Cannock Chase

Resilience in your practice and organisation

Damaged ecosystems and extreme weather are already widespread and there is so much CO2 in the atmosphere that global warming is ‘baked in’. This makes it essential and urgent that you face and plan for worsening impacts over time, including extreme weather, diseases, energy prices, food prices and social disruption.

A key risk when making an emergency response is to rush to action without considering knock-on unintended effects.

Apply the Precautionary Principle when planning any action. Can we be sure that the protective actions we take will not cause any harm in future, or in ways that might be less obvious to us?

audience outdoors with headphones
The Ash Tree Listening Project at Salt Festival, Folkestone. Photo: Cora Hamilton. Part of The Ash Project: theashproject.org.uk

Why is adaptation a vital part of your plans?

Adaptation is a series of ongoing adjustments to a changing context. Cultural practice can play a significant role in helping communities adapt to impacts of the Earth crisis, to be more resilient and just. This section, however, is about ensuring that you, as an organisation or practitioner, are adapting to the impacts, how you are protecting against them and ensuring that you can continue to use your assets for benefit as things change.

No country is well enough prepared for the impacts of climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, pollution, pandemics, social inequality and resource conflict as they worsen by impacting on each other. Climate change is now acknowledged to be the biggest wounding of the biosphere, and international efforts to limit warming to 1.5C above background levels have failed. 

For example; to focus on climate in the UK, we have understood this to be a rainy country with mild to cool weather. Despite years of warnings from experts, the Government has not done enough to adapt the UK to higher temperatures that last longer combined with more heavy intermittent rainfall, harsher storms and rising sea levels. Our buildings are not well insulated, our railways are some of the oldest in the world, we have the most inhabited coastline in Europe, and urban green space across England has declined over the past two decades. Already one of the most unequal countries in Europe, Brexit has made the UK less collaborative and resilient, worsening our economy and making food and energy price rises less manageable.

Gaia by Luke Jerram, at Inside Out Dorset, 2021 (Activate Performing Arts) Photo- Brent Jones
‘Gaia’ by Luke Jerram, at Inside Out Dorset, 2021 (Activate Performing Arts). Photo: Brent Jones.


Anticipate future scenarios and consider different strategies

Get together with people with a range of responsibilities, including external stakeholders to discuss:

  • Thinking about our sites, buildings, collections and community resources. What must we do to protect them from impacts such as drought, extreme heat, flooding, high winds and heavy rainfall? 
  • Thinking about our business model and day-to-day operations. How can we be prepared and resilient to shocks such as power cuts, supply shortages or lockdowns? 
  • Thinking about people and wild communities in our places. How can we help them adapt and be resilient to impacts of the Earth crisis? 

Consider different strategies:

  • What are all the different approaches we could take to protect heritage or cultural assets from impacts of climate change and ecocidal damage? 
  • Do we have any responsibility to help protect the heritage or culture of local or threatened places or people, beyond our own organisation?
  • Are there ways we can work, for example, with creatives, technical experts, or indigenous people to experiment with and promote these strategies?


See Stage Three for a planning canvas for putting adaptation into practice.

Here are some thematic areas you can consider action for care and resilience: 

  • How could we draw on our creativity and influence to protect biodiverse heritage?
  • Can this include supporting indigenous and community stewardship?
  • Can we promote the campaign for an ecocide law?

  • Can we use technology to virtually recreate threatened or lost places? For example, could we work with local communities to pool their knowledge of a site that’s at risk of loss to flooding?
  • How can you help raise awareness of inequality and injustice, or galvanise people to protect places from climate impacts?

  • Can we help to memorialise lost species, cultures and places?
  • How can we give space to spiritual activities and support people’s grief at loss?
  • How much are we considering losses of intangible heritage?

  • What opportunities are there to educate audiences for justice and care for refugees, and raise awareness of causes of displacement?
  • Can you plan to offer refuge and support in disaster or crisis situations (e.g. space, equipment and emotional support)?

  • Adapting our Culture: this toolkit helps cultural organisations adapt to the impacts of climate change and thrive in a climate-changed world. 
  • BC Heritage Emergency Response Network: British Columbia Heritage.
  • Climate Heritage Network: international heritage sector, including museums and arts, galvanising action for mitigation and adaptation with strong link to UN and ICOMOS. 
  • Peacebuilding Assessment Tool for Heritage Recovery and Rehabilitation (PATH): provides vital insights into the cultural drivers of a conflict such as unresolved grievances. This toolkit helps organisations take key decisions on which heritage gets preserved or rebuilt, where, when and by whom. 
  • Sustainability in Conservation (SiC): an international NGO aimed at promoting sustainability and environmental awareness in conservation of cultural heritage and related fields, highlighting the duality of conserving the planet along with the art and heritage it contains. 
  • Historic England: advice on flooding and heritage buildings, and other resources for caring for the built environment in a changing climate. 
  • Snowchange: started in late 2000 to document climate and environmental change in the North and work with local and Indigenous communities of the Earth’s Northern regions. 
  • What’s Next: a movement for the resilience of the arts and culture sector, with regular meetings and local chapters. 
  • Article on the role of culture in adaptation, resilience and transition (B. McKenzie)
  • Adaptation Scotland: not focused on the cultural sector but very informative of wider impacts and measures. 

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