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Think Tank Advocates New Tactics to Battle the Impact of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage

September 24, 2020

New Antiquities Coalition Policy Brief Makes Recommendations for World Heritage Sites

In light of Climate Week NYC 2020, hosted by the Climate Group in association with the United Nations and the City of New York from September 21 to September 27, The Antiquities Coalition has released a Policy Brief that examines the climate change-related risks facing cultural World Heritage Sites and makes recommendations for how to assess and mitigate those risks.

Climate change is a top global threat to all aspects of our world, including our shared cultural heritage. According to the UN, even if all countries were to implement their respective Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, we can expect a 3.2C temperature rise this century, resulting in significant instability and associated risks. Terry Townshend, a Beijing-based conservation and climate change expert, makes recommendations for how World Heritages Sites can face these threats in his new Policy Brief, “How Will Climate Change Affect Cultural Heritage? Recommendations for Mitigating Risks.”

Townshend argues that assessment and planning are necessary steps to take now in order for us to be prepared to address the challenges posed by climate change: “Given that a significant level of climate change is ‘locked-in’, even if countries fulfill their NDCs under the Paris Agreement, there is a need to consider and plan for actions to reduce the adverse impacts which may arise, and to identify and harness any beneficial opportunities.” 

Townshend discusses direct and indirect risks to World Heritage Sites, opportunities and adaptation response examples, as well as several case studies. He makes several recommendations that could help UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee maximize the resilience of World Heritage Sites around the world against the impacts of climate change, such as suggesting that all World Heritage Sites undertake a bespoke climate change risk assessment and develop an adaptation plan as soon as possible.

For a summary and link to the policy brief, visit:



About the Antiquities Coalition 

The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the international campaign against cultural racketeering, the illicit trade in art and antiquities. This plunder-for-profit funds crime, conflict, and violent extremist organizations around the world. By championing better law and policy, fostering diplomatic cooperation, and advancing proven solutions with public and private partners worldwide, the Antiquities Coalition empowers communities and countries in crisis to safeguard cultural heritage for future generations. 

Launched in 2016, the Antiquities Coalition Think Tank joins forces with international experts, including leaders in the fields of preservation, business, law, security, and technology, to bring high-quality, results-oriented research to the world’s decision-makers, especially those in the government and private sectors. Policy briefs strive to strengthen policy makers’ understanding of the challenges facing collective human heritage, and to help them develop better solutions to protect it.