ICOMOS Joins Mobilization to Unite Cultural Heritage for Climate Action

Global Climate Action SummitThe urgent need for increased ambition by the cultural heritage sector on climate change is uniting culture, heritage, indigenous, sustainability and community organisations from around the world at the Climate Heritage Mobilization. ICOMOS is proud to be supporting this effort as an Endorsing Organisation. The Mobilization event, scheduled for 12 September in San Francisco (USA), is an official affiliated event of the Global Climate Action Summit organised under the auspices of the California Office of Historic Preservation (an ICOMOS member).

Running from 12–14 September 2018, the Global Climate Action Summit will bring leaders and people together from around the world to San Francisco to showcase climate action and inspire deeper commitments in support of the Paris Agreement. The Summit will feature heads of state, mayors and regional leaders from around the world as well as companies, investors and citizens. The Mobilization is the first cultural heritage event of its kind to be organised at a major international climate change summit.

In addition to ICOMOS, the Mobilization will feature a diverse array of culture and heritage actors like the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Society of American Archaeology (SAA), the Zero Net Carbon Collaboration for Existing and Historic Buildings and the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice. They will be joined by sustainability organisations like the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP); United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and UN Habitat.

The Mobilization programme will showcase key ways that cultural heritage — tangible and intangible — can help communities achieve their climate targets. This includes heritage-based carbon mitigation strategies like promoting the reuse of existing buildings and the sensitive retrofitting of older and historic buildings for energy efficiency. It will also underscore the important role heritage plays in enhancing adaptive capacity and reducing the vulnerability of communities, from building social cohesion to guiding resilience planning. The role of culture and heritage as a vector for climate communication, justice, science and research will also be explored.

The Mobilization complements ICOMOS’ current climate change and heritage initiatives. This work was bolstered by the adoption of a significant new resolution on climate change at the ICOMOS General Assembly held in Delhi (India) in 2017. The Resolution entitled “Mobilizing ICOMOS and the Cultural Heritage Community to Help Meet the Challenge of Climate Change,” emphasizes that cultural heritage is both impacted by climate change and a source of resilience for communities and by the value of cultural heritage-based solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The ICOMOS Resolution also welcomed a series of climate change-related decisions of the World Heritage Committee, including a 2017 decision that requested that ICOMOS and the other Convention advisory bodies work with UNESCO to update the Committee’s 2007 Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties. In 2018, ICOMOS formed a Climate Change and Heritage Working Group to support its engagement with the Policy update and to help ICOMOS prioritise the climate change issue.

An international steering committee made up of heritage authorities and organisations, sustainability and climate organisations, community leaders and scholars is helping to guide the Mobilization. Two members of the ICOMOS Climate Change and Heritage Working Group – Adam Markham and Andrew Potts – are also serving on the Mobilization Steering Committee.

The Mobilization will support the launch of California’s ambitious new Cultural Resources Climate Change Task Force. It will also witness the launch of a new international Climate Heritage Network, a mutual support network of municipal, state/provincial, regional and tribal historic preservation offices (together with related NGOs, universities and other organisations) committed to aid their jurisdictions in tackling climate change and achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. The Network is expected to create an effective platform for advancing the Climate Change and Cultural Heritage agenda in international climate policy processes.

The Mobilization is being hosted by the California Historical Society (CHS) and will be livestreamed through a collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (USA). Interested parties may also follow the Mobilization on twitter at @ClimateHeritage (English) or @PatrimonioClima (Spanish). More information is available at www.climateheritage.org.


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