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Cultural Heritage Preservation, Climate Action Planning, and Social Justice

Authors: Hélène DUCROS*,
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Climate change, heritage, justice, culture
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper triangulates three research fields: Heritage studies, climate change mitigation, and social justice. In 2006, UNESCO pointed to the impact of climate change on world heritage and called for capacity building on the ground around the issue. Before that, in 2004, “Agenda 21 for Culture” came to complement Rio’s Agenda 21―seen as lacking the cultural component of sustainability. In this context, the case has increasingly been made for the integration of cultural heritage preservation in local Climate Action Plans (CAPs) as not only one facet by which community resilience is furthered in the face of climate change, but also as an important element in discussions over differentiated environmental impacts of dealing with aging or historic built structures in local planning (reuse, retrofit or build anew?). Localities are progressively, but unevenly, incorporating culture in climate mitigation strategies and developing heritage-based answers to climate change, recognizing the place of culture in climate adaptation and the role heritage actors play in advancing the goals set in the Paris Agreement. In parallel, the question of social justice and equity in heritage preservation schemes has been posed. Therefore, this project explores how these two problematiques intersect, disentangles whether integrating heritage preservation dimensions in CAPs is likely to result in enhanced justice for the communities at stake, and identifies what form the integration of heritage preservation considerations could take in CAPs to protect not only historic built structures, but also residents’ cultural rights, all the while mitigating the impact of climate change on local places.

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