Preserving Cultures from Climate Change

Culture and heritage loss caused by climate change is a serious and often irreversible issue. It is a form of “loss and damage” resulting from climate change that cannot be avoided and disproportionately affects vulnerable communities. Archaeologists, climate scientists, and policy experts met at the University of East Anglia to discuss this issue and how to measure and address it.

The impacts of climate change on culture and heritage can be seen in many parts of the world, from the erosion of the Norfolk seaside to the inundation of ancestral desert land in Mauritania. These impacts threaten the unique identities and ways of life of communities around the world.

To properly address this issue, it is important to measure the loss of cultures and heritage. This can be done through a variety of methods, including documenting cultural practices and traditions, assessing the physical damage to cultural sites, and gathering stories and experiences from affected communities.

Measuring culture and heritage loss is just the first step, however. The next step is to address this loss by developing strategies to protect and preserve cultural traditions and sites. This can involve a range of actions, from relocating cultural sites to higher ground to implementing policies that support the preservation of traditional practices and knowledge.

The experts at the University of East Anglia meeting stressed the importance of including the loss of cultures and heritage in high-level climate discussions, particularly in the context of the new loss and damage fund established at the COP27 climate summit. By recognizing the importance of culture and heritage in the face of climate change, we can take steps to protect these unique and irreplaceable aspects of human life.