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AC Chair Deborah Lehr Attends COP27, Highlighting the Connection Between Heritage and Climate

November 30, 2022

Cultural racketeering is a critical threat to our shared past, but the international community must also take urgent action against another rising danger: Climate change is devastating not only communities across the world, but also their cultural heritage, and risks wiping away this irreplaceable history for future generations.

In certain instances, climate change leads to the looting of artifacts. Some of Mongolia’s nomadic herders were forced to turn to alternative sources of income once the environment was no longer suited for grazing and they suffered a loss of income. The country has been a victim of cultural racketeering for decades and has implemented laws to protect and preserve its heritage, but these alone can’t stop climate change from intervening.

Deborah Lehr, Chair and Founder of the Antiquities Coalition, joined international experts in climate, government, and more for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, to discuss global efforts to confront the climate crisis and how cultural heritage professionals play a role. 

As part of the Climate Heritage Network, the Antiquities Coalition recognizes that climate change is a top global threat to all aspects of our world. Lehr was honored to engage with other members in sessions about cultural heritage-based climate solutions and cultural extinction. These sessions featured Ministers of Culture from Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates alongside other government officials, highlighting the critical role policymakers play in establishing climate-conscious standards.

During Solutions Day at COP27, the Climate Heritage Network presented the “The Sharm El-Sheikh Declaration on Culture-based Climate Action.” The statement was endorsed by all participants of the Ministerial session and seeks to enhance culture-based solutions to climate awareness. It builds on commitments made in the Paris Agreement, the Rome Declaration adopted at the 2021 G20 Summit, and the Naples Declaration from this year’s Conference of the Ministers of Culture of the Mediterranean.

The declaration follows the Climate Heritage Network’s “Climate Heritage Manifesto,” inviting civil society, cultural organizations, and other stakeholders to signal our joint ambition to fight the climate crisis. 

The Antiquities Coalition is a proud signatory of the Manifesto and commends the Climate Heritage Network for its efforts to raise awareness of the connection between cultural protection and preservation and climate change and looks forward to participating in future conversations about the issue.

Learn more about how climate change impacts cultural heritage from the AC’s Think Tank: