The Threat Of Climate Change To World Heritage
It was towards the end of the month of May when Donald Trump the presidential candidate talked about the futility and frivolity of spending US tax dollars on UN programs that work to deal with Global warming and focus on environmental changes that are ‘real’. Incidentally it was on that very day that Unesco brought out a detailed 100 page report on World Heritage and Tourism that, in fact stressed the fact that it is climate change that is posing as the biggest threat to the natural and cultural heritage sites. This report was only fortified when a mere three days later the River Seine in France flooded some areas in Paris while reaching a 30-year high, forcing an emergency shutdown of Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, so that the staffs could move the works to safety.
This week until 20th of July the 40th Unesco World Heritage Committee Session will be held at the Istanbul Congress Center where the delegates would come together to nominate additions to the World Heritage List. There has been enough focus drawn on the issue of a global warming and the gradual but definite increase in the temperature by 10C since 1880 that has caused erratic and extreme weather conditions, but the drastic impact of it all on the heritage sites are in fact not yet understood in its entirety. Climate change can catalyze the harmful impact of urbanization, pollution and rampant abuse of natural resources. Climate change can also add on to and increase the problems that are associated with tourism, that is in fact one of the most fast rising economic sectors. Responsible tourism however can contribute to upkeep and survival of heritage sites too, as per Unesco’s report.
The aforementioned report was created and collated in collaboration with United Nations Environment Program and the Union of Concerned Scientists by studying and observing 31 different sites in 29 countries that are susceptible to the climate change. The director for Unesco’s World Heritage Centre, Mechtild Rössler says that there is a need to better appreciate, observe, and address the threat of climate change to world heritage at a more international level. The report not only addresses the threat but also suggests measures and recommendations to all stakeholders and concerned regulatory bodies – government and voluntary, policy making authorities, and even locals on ways to respond to and survive the threats of climate change.
Some of the recommendations are as follows:
• Build up a succinct review of the susceptibility of World Heritage to the threats of climate change
• Include the criterion od climate vulnerability assessment as a criterion for the process of nomination of World Heritage
• In line with the Paris Agreement of 2015 work to devise policies that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions
• To utilize archaeological data and study past responses of humans to climatic change
• To include the local bodies, communities and people in all kinds of climate adaptation and development of responsible tourism