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Museums and Climate Change: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

In April, the intercessional meeting for climate change negotiations took place in Bonn, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with representatives from governments around the world (COP means Conference of Parties, these being nations).

There was a one-day workshop on how to accelerate education, training, public awareness, public access to information and international co-operation.  These are the 6 elements of the original Convention and are included as Article 12 of the Paris Convention, being known as ‘Action for Climate Empowerment’, chaired by the President of the COP, the Ambassador of Fiji.

Henry McGhie, Head of Collections & Curator of Zoology at Manchester Museum led part of one of the workshops.  In the afternoon there was a short filmed presentation from Emlyn Koster of North Carolina Natural History Museum on museums and climate change engagement.  Henry said a few words on how museums have tremendous potential to support this agenda, being trusted, having access to large numbers of people, collections that connect with the past, present and future, and a great deal of freedom in what we do, as well as our ability to build partnerships and convene different stakeholders, including policy workers and researchers, as well as the public.

After the workshop, parties (countries) agreed an ACE Decision to be adopted at COP 24 as part of the Paris Agreement Work Programme. This Decision recognises the key role that museums play in ACE:

“Reaffirming the key role that a broad range of stakeholders, inter alia, national governments, regions as applicable, cities, education and cultural institutions, museums, the private sector, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, decision-makers, scientists, the media, teachers, youth, women and indigenous peoples, play in ensuring Action for Climate Empowerment”

The Decision is available at:

While it might not seem much, every word of these things is hard won and means something.  This is a really brilliant outcome.  It means that governments recognise, or can be encouraged to recognise, the potential of museums in promoting climate change empowerment.

Henry McGhie, Head of Collections & Curator of Zoology, Manchester Museum, University of Manchester