Climate Action Toolkit

Climate Action Toolkit

This toolkit represents a comprehensive response to the pressing challenge of climate change, which not only poses a threat to the environment but also amplifies existing social injustices and inequalities. Its primary objective is to equip independent museums in the Highlands with the necessary resources and methodologies to effectively incorporate climate action into their operational framework while fostering meaningful engagement with their communities.

We acknowledge the challenges faced by many small museums that may already be operating beyond their capacity. Embarking on the sustainability journey can indeed seem daunting and overwhelming, particularly when viewed as a massive undertaking. However, the toolkit aims to alleviate this concern by emphasising that sustainability can be seamlessly integrated into existing plans and projects, thereby becoming an intrinsic part of ongoing museum activities.

By presenting a step-by-step guide, complete with lists, glossaries, and do-it-yourself policy kits, the toolkit seeks to demystify the process of becoming more sustainable. Rather than viewing sustainability as a separate and burdensome task, museums are encouraged to see it as a pathway to enhancing resilience and attractiveness to funders. By strengthening sustainability practices, museums not only contribute to climate action but also position themselves as more appealing destinations for visitors and potential revenue sources.

Ultimately, the toolkit strives to streamline the sustainability journey for museums, allowing them to devote less time to administrative tasks such as policy development and more time to engaging in meaningful sustainability projects and events. By providing practical resources and guidance, the toolkit aims to empower museums to navigate the sustainability landscape with confidence and enthusiasm, driving positive change within their communities and beyond.

Why should museums & heritage organisations take action?

  • It makes financial sense: save money. Action now, saves costs later. It is cheaper to address climate and adaptation measures now rather than leaving it. Make links to Sustainable Development Goals to strengthen funding applications.
  • Climate and social justice – ensuring a just transition.
  • Educational enrichment – assisting with behaviour change.
  • Enhance reputation.
  • Attract and retain staff.
  • Press opportunities – opportunities for museums to spread the word about the great work they do to be more environmentally and climate friendly.
  • You can tackle multiple issues and there are opportunities for co-benefits. E.g. nature and biodiversity, employment, reduce pollution, community wealth building
  • Current and future regulatory requirements: to secure funding in the future.
  • Meeting current legislation ≠ safety: Climate change is happening fast but regulations and guidance are slow to change, currently lagging 12-20 years behind the science.
  • Important to act now to avoid cascading risks: Full impact of climate change is difficult to quantify. E.g. Extreme weather disruption, fluctuating prices of materials.
  • Crossovers with health and safety. E.g. Storms and flooding, pests and diseases, rising temperatures.
  • Mitigation isn’t enough and we need to reduce negative environmental and climate impact.

Download the resources you need below and/or get in touch if you would like any help with getting started. This toolkit was developed in partnership with Ki Futures with thanks to funding from Museums Galleries Scotland.

The Full Toolkit

Getting started and templates –

Museum Sustainability in 8 Steps

Awareness: Starting to think about sustainability in your museum

Setting Your Baseline

TEMPLATE_Environmental Action Plan

Sustainability Strategy Development

Accreditation climate actions

Easy wins and project inspiration

Curating climate stories and quick wins

Storytelling for the Planet_ a place-based approach for museum audiences

The Plastic Age_Future Archaeologists

Understanding the terms and building a case


Cultural Heritage Goals – Sustainable Development Goals

Resources & Training

Understanding Climate Change

Museums a Central Role

Rethinking Missconceptions

Funding tips

Funding Sources

Pathways to Action 1 – How can museums inspire radical climate action in their communities?

Pathways to Action 1 – How can museums inspire radical climate action in their communities?

26 October, 2021 @ 1:30 pm 3:00 pm

First event in a short series of discussion events that hope to inspire museums to take the lead in their communities in tackling climate change. We have invited speakers from all over the world to share their climate projects – projects that are looking to go beyond raising awareness of the challenges we face, by helping find solutions and promote action. Each speaker will give a short presentation before we have a panel discussion and audience QandA. (image above is copyright of the Existances Project)

Dr Rowan Gard, Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Archaeology, will introduce us to the ‘Reimagining Museums for Climate Action’ project and put it into the context of COP26

Walter Francisco Figueiredo Lowande, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Laboratory of Studies in Theory, Historicity and Aesthetics of the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Walter will tell us about the Existances project in Brazil and how they approached answering the question ‘ What if Museums were small places that supported their communities in addressing local climate challenges and actions?’ The Existances project goes beyond documenting and preserving the past, reminding us that such knowledge is vital for the future of the planet.

Andy Mackinnon, director/cinematographer/producer and Arts Curator at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museums and Arts Centre, North Uist, will discuss Taigh Chearsabhagh’s Lines project (which addressed rising sea levels for local island communities) alongwith UistFilm projects, COP26 Message in a Bottle and Message from Upernavik.

Bryony Robins, Creative Director, Royal Cornwall Museum, will talk about their projects focusing on the climate emergency, in particular Fragile Planet – a major exhibition of watercolours by renowned artist Tony Foster that illustrate the precariousness of wilderness and endangered environments around the world.

This event has been supported by the #COP26Conversations fund developed in partnership by Museums Galleries Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Scottish Libraries Information Council.

Free Tickets must be booked via the eventbrite link below.



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