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Horniman Museum and Gardens announces Climate and Ecology Manifesto

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London announced today a Manifesto outlining its platform for action and the steps it will take to mitigate against the climate and ecological emergency, and to help shape a positive future for generations to come

A major element of the Manifesto is the Nature and Love project to use the Horniman’s collections and outdoor spaces to engage visitors with climate and ecological issues. This will include a redisplay of the Natural History Gallery and Aquarium, as well as creating outdoor zones to encourage nature exploration, highlight sustainable gardening and open up access to the historic Nature Trail.

Horniman Museum

The announcement of the Manifesto follows the Horniman’s declaration of a Climate and Ecological emergency in July last year. The planned actions build on existing work including replacing bottled water and plastic takeaway packaging in the Horniman Café with lower environmental impact products, and raising public awareness through events and exhibition such as the Beat Plastic Pollution pop-up display in the Aquarium, which was shortlisted for the Museums Change Lives Awards in 2019.

Nick Merriman, Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, says: ‘We believe the Horniman has a moral and ethical imperative to act now. As a much-loved and trusted institution and the only museum in London in which nature and culture can be viewed together, we feel we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to use our collections, our indoor and outdoor spaces, and our relationship with our visitors, to create a movement for positive environmental change.’

The creation of the Environmental Champions Club will be supported by the Horniman’s membership of the 2020 Julie’s Bicycle Accelerator programme, launched last week (23 January), which aims to advance the sustainable practice of its members.

Plans for the Horniman’s Nature and Love project will form the basis of a major funding bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund later this year.

You can find the full Manifesto below:

Horniman Museum and Gardens
Climate and Ecology Manifesto

January 2020

We are in the midst of a global climate and ecological emergency unprecedented in human history. The Horniman believes that there is still an opportunity to mitigate against this crisis but that the speed and manner with which governments, organisations and individuals act is vital.

Museums are institutions of the long-term, able to place global issues in a perspective beyond that of short-term political and funding cycles. Our mission is that the Horniman connects us all with global cultures and the natural environment, encouraging us to shape a positive future for the world we all share. As the only museum in London in which nature and culture can be viewed together, in both indoor and outdoor spaces, and as a much-loved and trusted institution with close to a million visits each year, the Horniman has a moral and ethical imperative to act now.

In July 2019 we declared a climate and ecological emergency. This manifesto sets out our commitment to accelerating a step-change in how visitors engage with nature across our estate, and to making positive, practical changes to our own organisation, the local environment and people’s lives in our communities. Through our work we will encourage people to experience nature and wildlife up close and to explore the big interconnected issues of our time including climate change, species extinction, pollution and migration – and ultimately create a movement for positive environmental change.

Our collections and visitors

We will transform how we use our natural history and living collections We will engage visitors with climate and ecological issues as part of an ambitious Nature and Love project which builds on everyone’s wish to ensure a sustainable future for the children of tomorrow. We will redisplay our Natural History Gallery and Nature Base to show how humans have changed the planet through their actions, and supporting people to make changes on a local and global level. The Aquarium will be re-interpreted to showcase new habitats and species focussing on their conservation and featuring our ground breaking coral research. We will also create an outdoor Sustainable Gardening Zone featuring a redeveloped, accessible plant nursery and programme of sustainable planting displays. A new Nature Explorers Zone will open up access to our historic Nature Trail and establish a nature-themed play area, encouraging environmental learning and wellbeing through exploration and play.

We will be creative

We will use our exhibitions, events programme and digital channels to champion environmental causes and to highlight work being done across the world to mitigate against the climate and ecological crisis.

We will help change habits

To encourage our visitors to reduce their impact on the natural world, our Café will offer more vegetarian and vegan menu items, and we will continue to host free water refill points in the Museum and Gardens.

We will inspire change for future generations

We will improve public awareness of the climate and ecological emergency, and offer practical ways to make positive changes to our own lives. With the support of Julie’s Bicycle Accelerator programme we will launch an Environmental Champions Club in 2021.

We will invest in environmental research

In recent years the Horniman Aquarium has been pioneering research techniques to stimulate coral sexual reproduction, and became the first institution globally to successfully induce predictable broadcast coral spawning, as well as the first successful IVF of captive corals in the UK. Through Project Coral, we will continue to support coral research facilities all over the world, opening up opportunities to examine the effects of climate change, reef restoration and support sustainable livelihoods.

Our estate

We will minimise usage and waste

We have set a target that 97% of organic food and gardens waste will be composted annually from 2020. Following the introduction of canned water and plant-based packaging in our Café, we will extend the removal of single-use plastics across all areas of the Horniman. From 2020 we will reuse 200,000 litres of Aquarium water in our Gardens each year.

We will reduce pollution

With the introduction of a Green Travel Plan in 2020 we will reduce business flying where possible and use more videoconferencing, move to fully electric or hybrid company vehicles by 2024, and encourage more visitors to use public transport. Our electricity will be from guaranteed renewable sources by 2021, and we will conduct an audit of our Greenhouse Gas emissions to scope the actions and timescale required to become Greenhouse Gas neutral by 2040.

We will embrace innovations in sustainability

We will continue our ongoing programme of upgrading to energy-efficient LED lighting, and ensure that lower environmental impact construction principles are central to our 10-year framework plan.

Our organisation

We will change the way we work

In 2020 we will appoint a Climate and Ecology Action Coordinator to develop new initiatives and involve colleagues in a Horniman-wide movement to embed our plans.

We will be a proactive partner

It is essential that we work in partnership with others to share and support. From our own staff to colleagues in the sector, and from suppliers to local community groups, we will work with a range of partners who are concerned about and engaging with the same issues as ourselves.

We will learn and improve

We will benchmark our current performance, monitor change, and report back annually on our performance in delivering a Climate and Ecology action plan, and where possible the outcomes of our engagement with visitors. We will share our experiences online, at conferences and through publications.

Interested in how your museums can work towards being more sustainable? Start with this article.

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