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


Total World Heritage Sites


Cultural Sites


Natural Sites


World Heritage Sites in Danger