Culture and heritage in climate conversations: reflections on connecting culture, heritage and climate change

William P. Megarry, Hana Morel, Sarah Forgesson, Eduardo S. Brondizio

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Recent years have seen increased efforts from the heritage sector to engage more meaningfully with climate change. This has included studies into loss and damage and vulnerability under the heading on non-economic losses. Yet the immense value of cultural heritage as a driver and resource for climate action remains under-appreciated. This is especially the case in assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which summarise and synthesise the state-of-the-art in climate research to produce policy relevant but not policy prescriptive guidance for state parties and other actors. This chapter explores efforts from researchers in the cultural heritage sector to engage more meaningfully in this synthesis process; specifically, it will present the vision, methodology and select findings from the International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change, a collaboration between the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which brought together over 100 international researchers and practitioners from diverse knowledge systems (scientific, local, Indigenous) to explore the contributions of culture and heritage to understanding and responding to climate change. Discussions and outputs from this meeting propose that these heritage and cultural practices act as a bridge between different ways of knowing, embody inherited knowledge accumulated over generations, and serve as entry points for climate action. To do so requires acknowledging, respecting, and implementing a plurality of knowledge systems inherent in culture, heritage, and creative practices. This chapter explores the methodology used in the meeting to achieve this goal. This includes reaching beyond established academic processes and outputs which are often exclusionary to explore place and people-centred experiences and approaches. It will conclude by presenting some key messages from the meeting which illustrate this inclusive approach.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnthropology and climate change: from transformations to worldmaking
EditorsSusan A. Crate, Mark Nuttall
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781003242499
ISBN (Print)9781032150925, 9781032150932
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023


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