Reforming World Heritage to mitigate the challenge of climate change

Some of our planet’s natural and cultural assets listed under the World Heritage Convention will be unsustainable in the face of climate change, even if effective on-site adaptation and mitigation strategies are applied locally, a table has concluded. round of experts in a report published this week.

The Australian Academy of Sciences, in consultation with the Australian Academy of Law, brought together 18 Australian experts in natural and cultural heritage, climate change and diplomacy for a national roundtable in December 2021.

The impact of climate change on heritage properties is complex and global.

“The Academy of Sciences was pleased to bring together experts to research ways to manage these assets in this complexity, and thus ensure that future generations can enjoy them as we have been able to,” says Professor John Shine, President of the Australian Academy of Sciences.

The objective of the roundtable was to develop a “menu of ideas” that would launch a serious discussion on what could be done to amend the Convention to enable it to support the world’s most precious heritage assets in the face of climate change. incessant.

Ideas put forward include: reforming the nomination, inscription, evaluation and de-listing of properties, including defining the limits of acceptable change for sites, the use of climate vulnerability and possible changes to World Heritage Committee processes to effectively recognize the threat of climate change.

2022 is the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972.

Adapting the Convention to enable it to cope with contemporary pressures – such as the consequences of climate change – would be an appropriate project both to celebrate achievements to date and to prepare for the usefulness of the Convention for decades to come.

Australia has a vested interest in encouraging reform, as a high proportion of Australia’s World Heritage properties are at risk from climate change.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified 11 of Australia’s 16 natural and mixed World Heritage sites as being at high risk due to climate change.

Read the full report.

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors. See in full here.

Teresa H. Sadler