Climate change impacts on cultural heritage: Facing the challenge


During the UN Climate Action Summit held in New York on 2019, the Prime Minister of Greece had undertaken the initiative to propose the creation of a Mechanism that will focus on the protection of cultural and natural heritage from the impacts of climate change. The UN Secretary General, in his Climate Action Summit 2019Report, included the Greek proposal and proposed, upon the recommendation of the Greek Government, the creation of a Flexible Mechanism. The aims of the Flexible Mechanism are to promote and accelerate the implementation of actions and cooperation schemes, to bridge scientific knowledge and climate mitigation and adaptation tools, with informed decision making by the interested States and to enhance the relevant research, contributing with the science basis and the necessary tools to accomplish those goals.

The Flexible Mechanism is compromised of representatives from Greece, UNESCO, UNFCCC and the WMO.

Greece is represented to the Flexible Mechanism by Mr. George Kremlis, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Environment and Climate Issues, UNESCO by its Director for Cultural Policies and Development, Ms. Paola Leoncini Bartoli, and the representatives of UNFCCC are Mr. Youssef Nassef, Director of Adaptation Division and Ms. Ina Lambert, Associate Programme Officer of Adaptation Division. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is represented by the Director of Science and Innovation and Chief Scientist, Professor Jürg Luterbacher.

One of the major steps in progress, is the creation of an international network that will act as a database for the monuments and places which should be shortlisted by the Initiative regarding the protection of natural and cultural heritage. In this context, the Flexible Mechanism has launched a relevant questionnaire, addressed to all countries that officially supportthe Initiative to map the vulnerability of cultural and natural monuments/sites from natural and anthropogenic climate change impacts.

Moreover, during the 8th Summit of the Southern Countries of the European Union on 17thSeptember 2021, held in Athens, the Southern  Countries  of  the  EU  (Croatia,  Cyprus,  France,  Greece,  Italy,  Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) commited to work towards the protection of the Mediterranean’s cultural and natural heritage, which is under threat from the impacts of climate change, and agreed to participate in a Pilot Project, centered over the idea of developing a “Climatic Identity” for the monument/site of cultural and natural heritage that each Member State will indicate.

For more details regarding the actions of the Flexible Mechanism, you can watch the short discussion between Mr. George Kremlis and Ms. Sneška Quaedvlieg–Mihailovic, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, regarding Climate Changeimpacts on cultural and natural heritage, during the 7th edition of the Delphi Economic Forum that took place from 6 to 9 April 2022.