Climate change will creep up on heritage sites: Unesco expert

Climate change will creep up on heritage sites: Unesco expert

Localised solutions integral to mitigating crisis, says conservation body leader

GEORGE TOWN – While climate change is seen as a major threat to humans and all biological life, the situation also endangers traditional habitats, including over 1,000 places listed as World Heritage sites globally, said a United Nations (UN) agency official.

Hence, there is a need to undertake steps to adapt to the consequences of such changing trends, said Tim Badman, head of the heritage and culture team of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Speaking at the opening of the World Heritage Leadership programme at the Royale Chulan Hotel, Badman said that for the past three years, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has identified climate change as a major disruption to an effective governance of the international body’s recognised heritage sites.

The opening was officiated by the Penang state executive councillor in charge of tourism, Wong Hon Wai. Badman said that there is an acceleration of efforts to be ready to deal with the impact of climate change.

He and programme manager Eugene Jo are assisting the George Town World Heritage Incorporated to provide new impetus in managing the historic inner city. One area, which is of concern, is disaster management in the event of situations like floods.

Badman said that training and revision works are crucial in helping site managers cope with the aftermath of climate change.

It has been reported that some parts of the core heritage zone of George Town may be underwater in the next few decades due to the rise of the sea levels, propelled by the melting of polar ice.

Badman also said that there is also a need to incorporate a “best practices” standard in dealing with the climate change onslaught. Most importantly, Unesco is cognisant of the need to have localised solutions to the issues emanating from climate change, said Badman.

The action plan must be effective as every stakeholder must understand the gravity of the consequences of climate change, he added.

Meanwhile, Jo told a press conference that it is important to understand the localised issues in each site so that managers can understand more about what it takes to preserve and conserve sites against the backdrop of many challenges.

– The Vibes, October 2, 2023

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