Culture for Climate Action

SEACHA’s mission, to promote commitment to cultural heritage protection and safeguard Southeast Asian cultural heritage for future generations, would be impossible to pursue in the modern era without addressing the relationship between cultural heritage and climate change. Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity and the world today. While global warming poses a threat to cultural heritage preservation and the practice of heritage traditions, cultural heritage can also provide ways to fight back against climate change.

The wisdoms of cultural heritage are immense, and combating climate change through cultural heritage wisdom has innumerable benefits that have yet to be explored. If communities adopt local heritage practices and philosophies designed with their unique environments in mind, they can make an impact. Culture-based climate action provides an accessible way for anyone, anywhere to both connect with their cultural heritage and take action against climate change.

SEACHA’s work to raise awareness of culture for climate action has only just begun, but already we have accomplished great feats. In 2023, we hosted a conference, co-chaired the Working Group for Culture at COP28 (The UN Climate Change Conference 2023), and held six side events at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In our work, we share three key messages for culture-based climate action: to share the methods of traditional, climate-friendly living in harmony with nature; the potential for adapting age-old and eco-friendly principles of traditional architecture and urban design to create better modern homes and cities, and the ways that culturally deep, spiritual traditions can wrap nature together with humanity to form a basis of activism.

The SEACHA Conference Book

SEACHA’s first book, Cultural Wisdom for Climate Action: Learning from Southeast Asia was published in October 2023 with experts and activists from ten countries of Southeast Asia. This book was the result of the collaboration and work of dozens of people who came together for SEACHA’s conference, “Cultural Wisdom for Climate Action: The Southeast Asian Contribution,” hosted by the Siam Society in January of 2023. Both the book and the conference reflected learnings from the heart of Southeast Asian culture, and demonstrated how we might use local heritage practices to fight climate change.

To read more about the conference book and the conference itself, click for more details at the links below.

Co-Chair of the Working Committee for Culture@COP28

COP28 saw incredible advancements in political commitments to incorporate culture within climate action strategies. These advancements were the results of continuous efforts made by Climate Heritage Network (CHN) with its mission to gain political commitments from member states to engage with cultural heritage, the arts, and creative industries in the UN-led global climate change agenda. We as SEACHA are proud to have been a part of this work since earlier this year as co-chairs of the Culture@COP28 Working Group together with the Petra National Trust (PNT).


These accomplishments include:

  • The Culture@COP28 Working Group initiated two strategic moves just before the COP28 started: the Global Call to Action that mobilizes non-state actors/organizations/networks by collecting signatories calling to put culture at the heart of climate action. It has received tremendous support from a diverse worldwide coalition with over 1,500 signatories including leaders and global institutions. The Global Call sets forth plans to secure the adoption of a Joint Work on Culture and Climate Action Decision (JWD) at COP29, which would lead to the adoption of the first-ever UNFCCC Work Plan on Culture at COP30.


  • The occurrence of the first ever multilateral High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Culture-based Climate Action, in which SEACHA Vice-Chairperson, Ms. Moe Moe Lwin, participated as a representative of a non-state cultural organization. It was attended by Ministers and high-level officials from governments of 25+ nations and 4 intergovernmental organizations.


  • Through the ministerial, COP28 also saw the launch of the GFCBCA (Group of Friends of Culture-based Climate Actions) initiative. Over 25 nations pledged to join GFCBCA which is co-chaired by Ministers of Culture from Brazil and UAE.  The adoption of the Emirates Declaration on Culturalbased Climate Action at the meeting also posed a landmark commitment to explore, discuss, and enact culture-based climate solutions. These initiatives are starting points that will also secure adoption of the JWD.

Our COP28 Side Events


While 2023 was SEACHA’s first attendance of a COP, we successfully planned, organized, and delivered six side events offering a plethora of insights into the potential of Southeast Asian cultural wisdom to contribute to climate action. A total of 11 delegates composed of youth, artists and expert advocates, from Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam representing SEACHA participated as panelists and moderators in these side events. With thanks to our hosting partners: Thailand Pavilion, Indonesia Pavilion, Greening Education Hub, UNFCCC’s SEORS event that was curated in partnership with CHN, American Anthropological Association, ICOMOS, PNT, Julie’s Bicycle, and Union of Concerned Scientists, we were able to spread Southeast Asian voices to hundreds of attendees at COP28 and global online audience.


Through these side events, we highlighted the roles that youths, ethnic tribal communities, ancestral wisdom, traditional practices and popular urban culture tend to play towards achieving a just, low-carbon, and climate resilient future. We successfully delivered our key messages through our delegates’ talents in art, music, and presentations. The impact of our side events at COP28 will continue to ripple as our messages have reached academics, policy makers, and more. And better yet, our messages are also available for access online even after COP28 on the SEACHA YouTube page. Find insights and recordings from our side events at COP28 on our YouTube page or in the event pages below. Even if you were unable to attend COP28 or watch the livestreams of our side events, you can still watch and learn from our side events today!