The Government Council for Sustainable Development is a permanent advisory, initiating, and coordinating body of the government concerned with the area of sustainable development, strategic management, and the long-term priorities of the state. The Council receives technical and administrative backing from the Ministry of the Environment.
The Council is responsible for creating key strategic materials devoted to sustainable development for the CR: the Strategic Framework of the Czech Republic 2030 (hereinafter just ‘CR 2030’) (Government of the CR, 2010) and the Implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goals) in the CR.
The subject of culture is a part of the ‘CR 2030’ strategy and part of the Implementation of the Agenda 2030, specifically under the goal Support for a peaceful and inclusive society for sustainable development, the ensuring of access to justice, and the creation of effective, responsible, and inclusive institutions at every level, and under the goal Greater public investment to support key functions of culture and equal access to culture and creativity.
Culture is also a part of the Regional Development Strategy of the CR 2021+. The local level is a driver of sustainable culture in the CR. Traditionally there has been a dense network of cultural organisations of various types in the CR. In recent years it has been possible to witness an enormous amount of activity on this level among cultural associations and citizens’ groups, who are trying to exert pressure on cities to achieve sustainable development across different sectors.
By 2015 Czech museums had already become involved in International Museum Day under the shared motto ‘Museums for a sustainable society’. The theme of sustainable culture and arts has begun to receive attention from various cultural institutions and individual artists in their activities and artistic work.
A change in thinking about the transformation not just of artistic organisations is the objective of the platform Art for the Climate. At the start of 2019 it initiated the Statement of Prague Cultural Institutions on the Declaration of a State of Climate Emergency within the City of Prague, which had 80 signatories. It thereby also prompted artistic interventions.
In 2019 a meeting of representatives of cultural organisations took place at which participants agreed that some cultural organisations have already been addressing this issue for some time and have introduced concrete measures designed to make their operations more environmentally friendly. Participants also noted the limited knowledge and the limited awareness about the responsibility that cultural institutions have for the impact of their activities on the public.
An example of best practices is provided by the Prague Quadrennial (the biggest international exhibition of performance design). When it was last held in 2019, it focused on responsibility for the living environment. As well as the re-use of props it also worked to connect foreign exhibitors with local suppliers, to prepare promotional items in collaboration with Czech labels, and to limit the use of plastic and to recycle waste. It then presented its experiences at a conference titled ‘The Highs and Lows of Environmental Sustainability: The Possibilities and Limits of Responsibility for the Living Environment When Organising International Festivals’, in which 81 representatives from 46 organisations interested in the subject of environmental responsibility participated. Part of the conference was an innovative ideas exchange, where ideas for sustainable solutions were shared.
In 2019 a strike and events were organised as part of Climate Week, in which a large number of cultural organisations and institutions throughout the CR took part. After the Covid-19 break, Climate Week continues in 2022 with events involving cultural organisations.
In January 2020 a round table was held in Brno that involved an open discussion with the general public on the subject of the situation of cultural institutions in a time of climate change. The discussion dealt, among other things, with the exhibition accompanying the Jindřich Chalupecký Prize 2019, which in response to the current climate situation was significantly defined by the decision to use alternative energy sources to power the entire exhibition and at the same time to use the occasion to calculate and acknowledge what the energy demands and carbon footprint of the event are.
The issue of sustainability has been foregrounded even further by the COVID-19 crisis. For example, the ATI, a state contributory organisation, introduced a new criterion into its programme of support for short-term mobility stipulating that in the case of travel requirements under 700 km flights must be replaced with some form of ground transport. This subject was also dealt with at the international conference Culture of Mobility in the Time of Climate Change.
In 2022, an Open Letter to Minister of Culture Martin Baxa was published, which was the result of a year-long meeting of a working group composed of representatives of various Czech cultural institutions that work with the concept of non-growth in their programmes and operations. The text aims to stimulate a discussion on the principles of no-growth culture and the conditions in which artists and cultural producers create today.
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