Cultural Resources Climate Change Task Force

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Local Government, Regional Government, Supranational / Intergovernmental Institutions

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Project area


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Ongoing since 2018

Cultural heritage is impacted by climate change. At the same time, it has enormous potential to drive mitigation and adaptation solutions. But cultural policies are typically separate from environmental policies. Under the auspices of the California Natural Resources Agency, California State Parks, and the Office of Historic Preservation, goals have been developed to understand ways in which efforts could be joined for greater efficiencies and larger landscape outcomes. Opportunities to engage cultural partners, Indigenous communities, and the public in these processes is a major focus of the ambition.
This study case is based on a good practice provided by the City of Sacramento and promoted by the UCLG Committee on Culture. The original document can be found here.

Sustainable Development Goals

Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Sacramento, United States

Size and population development
Sacramento had a population of 525,398 as of July 1, 2023, showing a growth of 0.7% per year since 2020. The city is known for its diverse population and its role as the centre of California's state government. The Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade Metropolitan Statistical Area is the fifth largest in California and the 27th-largest in the United States.

Population composition
Sacramento's population is nearly evenly split between males (48.9%) and females (51.1%). The population distribution by age shows that 23.4% are under 18 years, and those 65 and over represent 13.2%. The median age in the city is 34.5 years. The ethnic composition is diverse, with 34.5% non-Hispanic White, 28.7% Hispanic, 18.3% Asian, 13.4% Black, 1.4% Native American, 1.1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and 2.6% from two or more races.

Main functions
Sacramento is the capital city of the state of California and the seat of Sacramento County. It serves as the political center of the state, housing the California State Capitol, the Office of the Governor, and the California Legislature. The city is also a regional economic hub, with a diverse economy that includes government, healthcare, education, and technology sectors. Sacramento is known for its tree-lined streets, parks, and vibrant cultural scene, including museums, performing arts venues, and farm-to-fork cuisine.

Main industries / business
Sacramento's economy is diverse, with major sectors including government, healthcare, education, and technology. As the state capital, government jobs account for a significant portion of the city's employment. Sacramento is also home to several major healthcare providers, including UC Davis Medical Centre and Sutter Health. The city has a growing technology sector, with companies such as Intel, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard having a presence in the region. Agriculture and food processing are also important industries, given Sacramento's location in the fertile Central Valley.

Sources for city budget
The City of Sacramento’s budget comes from various sources including local taxes (e.g, property tax, sales tax, and utility user tax), state and federal transfers, fees and charges for public services. The city also receives funding from the State of California for various projects and initiatives.

Political structure
Sacramento is governed by a city council and a mayor. The city council consists of eight members elected from districts for a four-year term as is responsible for making decisions on local policies and budgets. The mayor is elected citywide and serves as the chief executive office of the city overseeing the city’s day to day operations and representing the city in various capacities. As the capital of California, it is the seat of the state's executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The city is represented by two U.S. Senators and multiple members in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Administrative structure
The city of Sacramento is divided into eight council districts, each represented by a council member. The city administration is headed by the city manager, who is appointed by the city council and oversees various departments such as finance, public works, community development, and parks and recreation. The city manager is responsible for implementing the policies and decisions of the city council and managing the city’s operations.

The Task Force seeks ways to further promote a post-pandemic framework that is low carbon, sustainable, a place for people to learn, share, understand, thrive, to create a resilient future. The urgency of climate change, a shortage of sufficient human and financial capital, and the needs of our communities require us to look at frameworks in different ways. Because public policy changes can take years to negotiate, the Task Force identified the intersection of cultural heritage and existing climate action projects.
In this intersection, it set to understand how cultural heritage goals could co-exist with other environmental actions, how culture could play a role in helping people make the changes necessary for climate action to succeed, etc. The idea is to increase adaptation and mitigations solutions, show what is possible, and provide frameworks that are scalable at the local level for overall heightened outcomes.
The project scope encompasses the entire State of California. With a large coastline, mountains, deserts, and land in between, the topography and climate of California represents most every situation the world might encounter. 
The specific goals of the Task Force were modified to meet the realities of a governing during a pandemic. It required us to also think about what post-pandemic recovery looked like. How could programs and processes incorporate cultural values, just transition, low carbon solutions, to address the climate threats while providing communities tools to thrive into the future.
In conducting the Gap Analysis, members collated the state’s climate ambition. They then used the ICOMOS’ Future of our Pasts report as a primer, identifying how culture could add to greater, more holistic outcomes and/or how culture could be a vector for human actions shifts- those needed to increase success. Once the climate actions were catalogued, members discussed possible partnerships, met with external partners, non-governmental organizations, tribal communities, to learn their ideas, goals, linkages.
While the first phase was internal to state government, individual agencies reached out to non-governmental, local government, and other partners throughout the process. The Task Force is connected to the Climate Heritage Network and its global reach of colleagues, through inception and post COP 26, inputting to webinars, learning from partners, sharing information and successes.
Next steps to integrate cultural heritage contributions and values in to mainstreaming of climate actions across all of state government is part of the future Task Force duties. Additionally, working with external to California, our national government, trade organizations, global partners through efforts such as those of UCLG, greater learning, implementation, and contribution to global low carbon goals can be achieved. We must continue to create action while laying the tracks for policy changes to accelerate ambition.

The Lead agency for the project is the State Government of California and is managed under the auspices of the California Natural Resources Agency, California State Parks, and the Office of Historic Preservation.

Direct impacts
Utilizing existing scholarship such as the ICOMOS report "The Future of Our Pasts", and the gap analysis, an increased awareness of the important values of cultural heritage throughout the state was gained. Agencies began to look for opportunities to talk to California Tribes about cultural matters important to their existence, to communities about values of celebration, place, traditions that are critical to their well-being. They were also able to identify ways to incorporate these values and goals into existing projects with little or no additional funding. Future projects are beginning with cultural heritage goals alongside the environmental goals for which each agency is mission tasked.
Collaboration with international partners via the Climate Heritage Network further increase knowledge for cultural heritage to play a key role in climate action solutions. Coordinated efforts to test frameworks in different global regions to create useful toolkits are underway. Every effort includes people, their voices, to breakdown existing frameworks and build back those that are equitable, just, inclusive and sustainable.
The Gap Analysis is one mechanism for evaluating the existing policy and programming of climate action within the state.
Public input opportunities are currently underway. Information, ideas, goals from California Tribes, communities, non-governmental partners, local governments will be a key part of future recommendations.
A progress report detailing the achievements of the Task Force to date, webinars, pilot projects, frameworks created, along with policy recommendations, is slated for completion in September of 2022. This will also include a path for the Task Force’s future efforts.
Key factors
The pivot during COVID led to the Gap Analysis conducted by the Task Force as a way to understand current climate ambitions in the state and investigate the intersection of cultural heritage and climate ambition A second key aspect is to identify frameworks as new state ambition were being created, such as the Natural and Working Lands 30X30 and the California Adaptation Strategy.
Because of its place within state government, the Task Force is positioned to continue its work as long as climate ambition continues. California has committed to increased climate action funding over the past three years, including in the current budget. This, coupled with the progress report, continuing engagement, and future plans for increasing the integration of cultural heritage and climate action, progress is slated to continue.

Facing severe drought, more frequent and intense wildfires, increased intense storm activity, are just a few of the weather events challenging our communities. 

From agriculture to mountains, urban areas to rural mountain regions, California is a laboratory for solution-based learning in ways that can also serve to benefit areas facing similar situations around the world. Simultaneous to internal action, a goal of the Task Force is to share, learn, and provide frameworks for partners nationally and globally.

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Jakki Mann
Melbourne , Australia

Jakki Mann

Individual | Content Curator

UCLG Committee on Culture
Barcelona (ciudad), Spain

UCLG Committee on Culture


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