The European Commission published a new report on strengthening cultural heritage resilience to protect it from the effects of climate change. The information gathered by a group of experts is alarming, as climate change is, directly and indirectly, threatening all forms of cultural heritage, among others through severe precipitation, prolonged heatwaves, droughts, strong winds and sea-level rise – all of which are expected to increase in the future. In the report, the expert group put forward a set of ten recommendations aimed at helping to strengthen cultural heritage resilience to climate change.
Improving cultural heritage resilience to climate change will involve a strategic shift towards investment in new forms of safeguarding and restoration. In the report, experts point out that as different ministries are responsible for cultural heritage and climate change policies at the national level, many players must continuously and consistently align their strategies to be truly efficient.
The expert group recommends that actions be undertaken to fully integrate culture and cultural heritage issues into environmental sustainability and climate policy-making at all levels (local, regional, national, European, and international). A regularly updated European climate change cultural heritage risk assessment map would provide valuable information on heritage at risk. In addition, more research shall be undertaken to identify and better understand the most severe threats, their potential impacts, and the costs involved in making cultural heritage resilient to climate change. At the local level, governments and institutions must encourage investment immediately and incentivise the safeguarding of cultural heritage against climate change through monetary and fiscal policies.
The report also points out that cultural heritage can be a valuable source of knowledge and inspiration for policymakers, heritage managers and society. Experts collected a total of 83 good practice examples from 26 countries, illustrating both climate change’s impact on cultural heritage and the potential of cultural heritage solutions in the context of climate change.