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The Garcia River land conservation project protecting and restoring California’s native Northern Redwoods. Photo: © Chris Kelly. Courtesy South Pole
04 Mar 2021

Hauser & Wirth to appoint first global Head of Environmental Sustainability

Including the introduction of a ‘carbon budget’ for each gallery project worldwide, this new role will drive our measures to align with goals set forth by The Paris Climate Agreement of the United Nations

We are pleased to announce the creation of a new position—Head of Environmental Sustainability—as part of the gallery’s commitment to becoming an art industry leader in environmental practices. Hauser & Wirth CEO Ewan Venters says, ‘Our new global Head of Environmental Sustainability will enable us to take the gallery’s climate action plan forward. In cultivating a more sustainable future for our artists and communities, we are committed to doing all we can to protect the ecosystem and to reduce our environmental impact.’ Venters added that the gallery expects to fill the new position by April 2021. 

Reporting to Venters, the new Head of Environmental Sustainability will be responsible for implementing the gallery’s blueprint for reducing carbon emissions intensity by at least 50 percent by 2030. Every year the gallery commits to carbon removal solutions for its remaining footprint. Hauser & Wirth will align with the goals set forth by The Paris Climate Agreement of the United Nations, through measures that include allocating each exhibition and art fair a ‘carbon budget’ commensurate with financial cost controls and the gallery’s carbon reduction aims. 

‘The scale of the challenges facing all of us will require both immediate action and long-term commitment.’—Iwan Wirth

We are committed to sharing knowledge and initiating dialogue with the global gallery community to participate in the sector’s collective shift towards environmental sustainability. Listen to Iwan Wirth and Haley Mellin, founder of Art to Acres, discuss this topic with CNBC broadcaster Tania Bryer, in a conversation available on Ursula magazine from 6 March. Iwan Wirth explains: ‘We commend initiatives such as the Gallery Climate Coalition and Galleries Commit which are helping to galvanize the art world to take positive action. As we take this journey and learn from it, we will also share knowledge with our wider art community and, in doing so, create opportunities for greater change. Each day we are taking steps to find new, increasingly innovative, and more sustainable ways of conducting our business. The scale of the challenges facing all of us will require both immediate action and long-term commitment. The state of our planet has long been of critical concern to our artists, including Mika Rottenberg, George Condo and Rashid Johnson, who inspired our land conservation partnership with Art to Acres.’  

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In Menorca we are partnering with the Menorca Preservation Fund which supports local environmental initiatives. Photo: Emilio Parra

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The Swiss Forest Protection project in the mountainous Canton Schwyz, taking action to reduce global emissions. Courtesy South Pole

Hauser & Wirth will expand its protection of carbon sequestration through land conservation via its collaboration with Art to Acres, a non-profit organization that supports permanent old-growth forest conservation in high biodiversity regions. As the organization’s founder, Haley Mellin, explains, ‘An edition by Jenny Holzer launched by the gallery to mark Earth Day in 2020 conserved 600 acres of cloud forest. The gallery supported the further conservation of 3,200 acres of cloud forest, a contribution matched by Global Wildlife Conservation, ensuring a positive impact on climate, biodiversity, and irreplaceable ecosystems.’ 

In addition, we worked in 2020 with the environmental sustainability advisors South Pole to double-offset the gallery’s emissions directly associated with its operations by supporting certified forestry and biodiversity projects in regions where the gallery is active. Two conservation projects, The Swiss Forest Protection project and The Garcia River project in California, were selected for the positive impacts on biodiversity and the protection of endangered habitats with community benefits and job creation through sustainable forestry practices. In addition, the gallery now uses 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources via direct renewable energy contracts or energy attribute certificates. 

Hauser & Wirth’s environmental protection measures have been developed in consultation with the internationally recognized sustainability consultants ERM (Environmental Resources Management), which assisted in an accounting of the direct and indirect greenhouse emissions associated with the gallery’s global operations for 2019. Completed in 2020, that first phase assignment is being followed in 2021 by a detailed audit of the largest indirect emissions for air travel and freight. The gallery’s carbon footprint will be measured on an ongoing basis each year. This intensive study will guide the creation of per-exhibition carbon budgets for the gallery’s worldwide program.

Listen to ‘The Art of Conservation’ where Iwan Wirth and Haley Mellin talk with Tania Bryer about sustainability in the art world. Learn more about Hauser & Wirth’s environmental sustainability measures here.