Climate change impacts on cultural heritage: Facing the challenge

Mr Andrew Potts

Andrew Potts

Cultural heritage offers immense and virtually untapped potential to drive climate action and support ethical and equitable transitions by communities towards low carbon, climate resilient development pathways.  Realizing that potential, however, requires both better recognition of the cultural dimensions of climate change and adjusting the aims and methodologies of heritage practice.

The “Future of Our Pasts: Engaging Cultural Heritage in Climate Action” report released by ICOMOS at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee demonstrates that there are significant cultural heritage dimensions to every aspect of climate action covered by the Paris Agreement, including heightening ambition to address climate change, mitigating greenhouse gases, enhancing adaptive capacity, and planning for loss and damage.  We must now urgently mobilize the cultural heritage sector for climate action to realize this full potential. Time is short however, as climate change is already impacting communities and heritage globally, and these trends are rapidly worsening.  As one strategy for achieving mobilization, ICOMOS supports the new Climate Heritage Network, which is launching on 24 October.  The Climate Heritage Network is a voluntary, mutual support network of local and city, state/provincial and regional, indigenous and tribal, and national arts, culture and heritage governmental and quasi-governmental boards, offices, ministries and site management agencies as well as NGOs, universities, businesses and other organizations committed to aiding their communities in tackling climate change and achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. More information here: