Um Nachhaltigkeit im Museumssektor voranzubringen, sind die zahlreichen Netzwerke wie NEMO – Network of European Museum Organisations oder we are museums zentral. Das weltweit wichtigste Netzwerk, ICOM – InternationalCouncil of Museums, hat zum Thema eine Arbeitsgruppe eingerichtet.

Caitlin Southwick ist Mitglied dieser Arbeitsgruppe und außerdem Geschäftsführerin und Gründerin der Initiative „Sustainability in conservation“ sowie der Nichtregierungsorganisation Ki-Culture.

ICOM Arbeitsgruppe zur Nachhaltigkeit in Museen


Zum Status und den Schritten, wie ICOM Nachhaltigkeit in Zukunft voranbringen möchte, habe ich mit Caitlin gesprochen.

Christopher Garthe: What is your role in the ICOM working group?

Caitlin Southwick: I am the Secretary of the Working Group on Sustainability. I have been in that role for the past two years, and will continue until December 2022.

CG: What is the main mission of the ICOM working group?

CS: The mission of the ICOM WGS is to address how to ICOM can address sustainability and implement the Resolution “On Sustainability and the Implementation of Agenda 2030,Transforming our World” from 2019 Kyoto Triennial meeting. Vision and Mission statements are below.


To function as a hub within ICOM, engaged in all matters pertaining to sustainability and climate change. To embrace the roll of adviser to ICOM, its committees, members and museums around the world, focusing on activating ICOM’s membership and developing sustainable policy based on community-rooted proposals.

To foster the development of research and strategies on museum sustainability and climate change thereby empowering the museum family, our visitors and our communities to help secure a sustainable future for all the inhabitants of the planet, human and non –human.


To assist ICOM in (i) Implementing the Resolution “On sustainability and the implementation of Agenda 2030, Transforming our World” adopted by the General Assembly at ICOM General Conference 2019 in Kyoto throughout ICOM, its Committees, Alliances, Affiliated Organisations and Secretariat and (ii) Becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

CG: Could you please illustrate the main results of the working group so far?

CS: During the first mandate of the Working Group, we were responsible for authoring the Resolution that was passed in Kyoto as well as a plenary session and workshop on sustainability for the conference, emphasizing the theme of sustainability as a priority of ICOM. We also produced a report for the Executive Board, in which we examine the current state of sustainability in ICOM and outline recommendations about how ICOM can engage further with the issue. This report led to an extension of the Working Group on Sustainability, with a new mandate for the period 2020-2022, in which the group will focus on the creation of two action plans: one short term for the period of the mandate, and one ten-year plan in correspondence with Agenda 2030.

CG: How is the reputation of the working group within ICOM?

CS: The WGS has received overwhelming support of the Executive Board and of ICOM. Sustainability is an issue that affects us all, and the desire to become more sustainable has been demonstrated through the great support ICOM has shown the Working Group – from the National Committees, the International Committees and the Secretariat.

CG: What have been the main challenges within ICOM to achieve the mission of the working group?

CS: The two main obstacles that the Working Group has seen in achieving its goals are the same that are faced sector-wide: a lack of funding and an overextension of participants. The Working Group is comprised of individuals from within the cultural heritage sector who are passionate and dedicated to the issues of sustainability. However, the group is comprised of volunteers from all over the world, which translates to some difficulties in getting together and busy schedules clashing with the core work. Time zones and relying on often too short Zoom calls results in a lengthy process of accomplishing tasks. The lack of funding is also restrictive in that it prohibits the possibility for in-person meetings and investment in tools and resources for accomplishing goals.

CG: Will the working group and its results have a lasting impact within ICOM?

CS: We certainly hope so! I am confident that ICOM is committed to addressing sustainability, and it is my personal hope that they will take the recommendations into serious account and make the financial and organizational commitments needed to contribute to a sustainable future for ICOM, the cultural heritage sector, and the world as a whole.

CG: How will the working group contribute to improving the sustainability performance of ICOM members?

CS: The Working Group is currently busy with creating an action plan, which will outline specific actions recommended to various entities of ICOM, including the National Committees, International Committees, the Executive Board, and the membership in support of sustainability. The Working Group hopes to iterate the importance of sustainability to ICOM and its members, communicating the role of museums and what actions we can take to support the UN SDGs.

CG: Caitlin, thank you very much for your time.

Wenn Ihr auch Nachhaltigkeit im Museumssektor voranbringen möchtet, unterstützt die Arbeit von Ki-Culture und schaut Euch insbesondere deren Ambassador-Programm an!