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UCLA/Getty Program’s Distinguished Speaker Series: Cultural Heritage and Climate Change

  • 2 min read

On February 4, 2022, CEO Sarah Sutton delivered the presentation: “Cultural Heritage and Climate Change: D(d)iplomacy for Neighbors and Nations as part of the UCLA/Getty Program’s Distinguished Speaker Series. To view the recording, click here. For more information about the program, click here.

Presentation Information

Cultural heritage has been undervalued as a community and national resource in addressing climate change. Historic landscapes are critical waterline buffers and biodiversity habitats. Structures are refuges and examples of resilient construction. Human-made objects and art hold our identities and the collective knowledge we depend upon for well-being. And our traditions have lessons for sustainability and resilience. These are valuable resources for neighbor-to-neighbor and nation-to-nation relationships that underlay the cooperative action necessary for creating a world where everyone and everything may some day thrive.

Sutton shared how those who care about cultural heritage have been taking important steps to protect it and to embed it in climate change response as a core component, not an add on. Historic structures and retrofitted modern buildings are increasingly efficient, low-carbon solutions that double as safe spaces for community resilience planning in stable times, and refuges in disturbed times – if left standing. The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative is a coalition protecting astonishing amounts of land as habitat and a buffer against riverine flooding. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will now include cultural heritage in its reports to the UN. And when President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, he named cultural institutions as valuable partners in tackling climate change. Across the US and now as part of United Nations-level discussions, cultural heritage is critical to domestic and national practices and agreements that create shared solutions.