Europe Is Ready for Climate Impact. What about Cultural Heritage protection?

Expected annual damage to critical infrastructure in European regions, due to
climate change, by the end of the century (million EUR) – Image form the 2018 Report from the Commissone to the European Parliament and the Council
on the implementation of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change

On November 12th, 2018, the European Commission has posted on its website some information about  a report (Europe is ready for climate impacts: Commission evaluates its strategy) on lessons learned and reflections on improvements for future action with regard to the impacts of climate change on economic sectors of EU regions.

Cultural Heritage is a wealth creator that boosts economic impact and tourism-related business opportunities, on which many cities and communities depend.

On the other hand, heritage assets are dramatically exposed to climate change and natural hazards, which threaten their integrity and may compromise their value. The loss or deterioration of these unique assets would negatively affect local and national communities, due to their cultural importance as a source of information on the past and a symbol of identity, as well as for their socio-economic value.

Cultural legacy all over the world can be considered a beacon that draws millions of people every year to  archaeological sites, churches, castles, monuments, museums, etc.  So, the protection and conservation of Cultural Heritage shoul be a priority for any policy makers, since Cultural Heritage is a known value with effects in other economic sectors.

While the problem of protecting and preserving Cultural Heritage is considered one of the key issues in modern societies, the webpage of the Commission does not address explicitly the issue of its protection against the damages due to of climate change. The  documents downloadble from the webpage do not contain specific references to the issue as well.

Losses in the EU countries due to climate change. From: Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change

Hopefully, in the report that has been sent to the European Parliament and to the Council of the EU, there’s already some reference to the protection strategy of such a pivotal aspect of the European Union.

The EU funded in the recent years researches on the specific topic. In 2019  will end two EU projects which deal with the very same problem, financed in 2015 under the Horizon 2020 program:

  • HERACLES:  Heritage resilience against Climate events on site
  • STORM:  Safeguarding Cultural Heritage through Technical and Organisational Resources Management

In the following years, few projects concerning the protection of Cultural Heritage against climate change risks seem to have been funded. A 2017 call has been issued on “Resilience and sustainable reconstruction of historic areas to cope with climate change and hazard events”.

The hope is that also the last calls of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program of the European Commission will keep high the interest in the preservation of Cultural Heritage against natural and man made risks. Limiting damages in the long term to such an important and vulnerable part of the local and communities communities should be a common goal of the next policies in the specific sector of Cultural Heritage protection.

An ongoing effort in identifying innovative solutions to enhance capabilities in improving existing processes related to prevention, intervention and planning is necessary .

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