Climate change impacts on cultural heritage: Facing the challenge

Climate change impacts on cultural heritage


of the President of the Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos
in the International Conference
“Impacts of climate change on cultural heritage: Facing the challenge”

I am particularly glad that Greece, being the repository of a huge wealth of Cultural Heritage, both tangible and intangible, took the initiative to convene, in June 2019, an International Conference on the “Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage”. The objective of the Conference is to continue the efforts already undertaken by the International Community in order to address this acute global issue.

By the end of the 19th century, and especially during the 20th century, it became clear that climate can change not only due to long-term natural variations but also due to human intervention. Owing to the greenhouse effect, rising levels of carbon dioxide, resulting from human activity, have caused the temperature of our Planet to rise, thus entailing an anthropogenic destabilization of the climate. According to the most reputable scientists, there is no doubt that we are now witnessing an unprecedented increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, including record-high temperatures and forest wildfires, such as those observed last summer in Canada, Portugal, Russia, Sweden the United Kingdom, the United States, and Greece.

Unfortunately, our Cultural Heritage is not spared by these adverse effects of climate change. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest reports clearly demonstrate, unless we act immediately to address climate change, the damage on the integrity of world Monuments of an outstanding value may become irreversible.

In view of the forthcoming UN Climate Change Summit of September 2019, the Conference of Athens is designed to send a strong message and raise public awareness in order to encourage effective global action on this pressing issue. At the same time, the Conference will be an excellent opportunity to elaborate a framework of viable solutions on how to monitor the damage caused and how to protect the world’s cultural heritage, especially through the use of innovative technologies, the exchange of best practices and the promotion of multi-stakeholder projects.

Climate change represents a major global challenge. But there is still time to act. Better sooner than later!



António Guterres


June 21-22, 2019, Athens

It is a pleasure to greet this conference.

Climate change is a threat to our future, but also to our heritage, natural and cultural. Extreme weather events and shifts in climate are taking a toll on ancient monuments and sites. Climate-induced migration is endangering traditional knowhow and could accelerate the loss of language diversity.

Culture is powerful source of identity and resilience – and can guide us in responding to the global climate emergency. Cultural heritage offers environment-friendly building techniques and agricultural practices. Intangible cultural heritage also includes knowledge about the environment, weather, atmosphere and biodiversity – all underpinning our capacity to adapt.

As we strive for the transformation we need, it is time to include cultural heritage in our discussions of climate change. I commend Greece for convening this conference, which is an important contribution to the broader discussions by UNESCO on the role of cultural heritage for sustainable development. Please accept my best wishes for a productive gathering.


His All-Holiness
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Welcome Letter


President of Europa Nostra
Plácido Domingo

Welcome Letter


Minister of Foreign Affairs
Katrougalos Giorgos

Welcome Speech

International Conference
“Climate change impacts on cultural heritage: Facing the challenge”
Concept note

Due to the adverse effects of climate change, cultural and natural heritage is nowadays under constant threat. If we do not act immediately to address climate change, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest reports clearly underline, the damage on cultural and natural heritage and, in particular on the integrity of world monuments of an outstanding universal value, may become irreversible.

Greece, repository of a wealth of cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, wishes to convene, in June 2019, an international Conference, addressing the climate change impact on cultural and natural heritage, with the participation of Heads of State or Government, International Organizations, distinguished academia and other relevant stakeholders. With this initiative, Greece, taking into account the ongoing discussion on the issue introduced by UNESCO, the established expertise of WMO on climate effects and the developments in UNFCCC, wishes to encourage climate action, making a positive contribution to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of SDGs 11.4 and 13.

The Conference aims to result in a framework of viable solutions, including the use of new technologies and concrete actions on how to monitor and protect the world’s cultural and natural heritage as well as strengthen its resilience. Furthermore, it will seek to raise awareness and encourage global action on this issue, contributing at the same time to the goals of the Climate Summit in September 2019 and the implementation of UNESCO’s strategy for action on climate change. In addition, the Conference could consider the establishment of a standing committee on heritage and climate change, with a view to assisting, as appropriate, the work of relevant UN bodies and International Organizations.

The Conference intends to cover topics such as adaptation and resilience of cultural and natural heritage to climate change and extreme weather events, enhancement of cultural heritage protection, information and awareness raising, education, exchange of best practices, exploitation of research outcomes and use of innovative technologies as well as promotion of cooperation at all levels.

The concluding Declaration of the Conference will aim at sending a strong political message all around the world and bringing together political and scientific actions, including the development of multi-stakeholder actions and projects, under the themes of cultural heritage and climate change.

International Conference on
the Impacts of Climate Change on Culture Heritage
(Athens, 21-22 June 2019)

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

At the initiative of the Greek government and of M. Bolaris, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and responsible for environmental diplomacy, an International Conference will be held, on Friday and Saturday, 21 and 22 of June, at the Zappeion Megaron, entitled: «Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage: Facing the Challenge».

Within the framework of the Conference, leading scientists, members of the international academic community and national experts will have an exchange of views and present scientific evidence and proposals on a number of different thematic areas, namely the recording of climate change impacts on the cultural heritage, the monitoring of such impacts through tools and mechanisms as well as the definition of key policies, measures and best practices for the protection of the cultural heritage against the impacts of climate change.

The International Conference is a tangible contribution of Greece to the creation of an international framework aiming at addressing climate change - related challenges and risks that the world cultural and natural heritage is facing, as well as at raising the international community’s awareness for taking relevant action.

Within this framework, the scientific conclusions of the Conference will be used accordingly in order to give rise to the adoption, in cooperation with the United Nations Secretariat, of the relevant Declaration and to give the opportunity to our country to make its contribution to the climate change actions that will be announced within the framework of the UN Summit on Climate Change (New York, September 2019).

The Athens International Conference on the Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage will be opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Katrougalos, and the Alternate Minister of Education, Research and Religion, Konstantinos Fotakis, and the Alternate Minister of Environment and Energy, Sokratis Famelos, will also address the Conference.

International Conference
“Climate change impacts on cultural heritage: Facing the challenge”
Concluding document

Adoption of the concluding document/
Concept Note

Today, 22 June 2019, world experts have convened at the International Conference “Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage: Facing the Challenge” after recognizing that climate change is impacting on all aspects of world cultural heritage and in particular the integrity of monuments and sites of universal value adopted the following actions:


The creation of a strategy that furnish better tools for our understanding of the threats as well as a more efficient mitigation of climate change effects. This will include:

Measure 1.1 Improve the quality of information on impacts of climate change on cultural heritage monuments and sites by installing detailed recording and monitoring systems for environmental threats on materials and socio-economic effects in various parts of the world.

Measure 1.2 Creation of a vulnerability index for each one and for groups of monuments and sites including those who might be affected in the future by extreme weather events in a destabilized climate environment applied worldwide.


The creation of a strategy to help mitigation efforts of climate change effects on cultural heritage. This will include:

Measure 2.1 The creation of a repository of good practice for actions, site management and risk management plans for the prevention of climate change impacts, to be used by the relevant services for the protection of cultural heritage.

Measure 2.2 Creating actions that ensure interdisciplinary cooperation in order to investigate and implement methodologies for development of effective sustainable adaptation strategies for the climate derived threats to heritage.

Measure 2.3 Design of increased readiness action programs in Emergencies.

Measure 2.4 Create risk assessment maps for specific threats based on climatic projections.

Measure 2.5 Elaboration, on the appropriate investment programs for the protection against extreme weather events.


The formulation of an education policy that will advise educational institutions and other stakeholders on the appropriate content for such programs for the better coordination of education efforts. This will include:

Measure 3.1 Educating children: Integrating into the educational material of primary and secondary education the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage.

Measure 3.2 Educating the public: Informing the public about the effects of climate change on heritage through programs and actions in museums, archaeological sites and schools. Traditional knowledge of indigenous people and local knowledge systems shall be included in the curricula.

Measure 3.3 Training seminars for decision-makers management authorities and services on climate change risk management and prevention.

International Conference on the
“Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage”
concludes its proceedings (Athens, 21-22 June 2019)

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The International Conference on the “Impacts of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage: Facing the Challenge,” which took place at Zappeion Megaron on 21 and 22 June, came to a successful close. The Conference, which was an initiative of the Greek government and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, responsible for Environmental Diplomacy issues, Markos Bolaris, was attended by representatives of 43 countries and many international organizations and NGOs.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Katrougalos, made the opening speech at the conference, having first read out a message from the President of the Hellenic Republic. Closing the conference proceedings, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Markos Bolaris praised the high level of the scientists who took part in the Conference and the importance of their presentations, and he underscored the need to promote the relevant recommendations, which our country has adopted, for protecting cultural heritage from the impacts of climate change

The International Conference culminated in the unanimous adoption of the Concluding document that the Greek government plans to promote in the context of the relevant international organizations (UN, UNESCO, WMO).
Transcripts of the speeches and scientific presentations of the distinguished speakers, along with all of the relevant information, are available on the Conference website,


Total World Heritage Sites


Cultural Sites


Natural Sites


World Heritage Sites in Danger