UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton: Speech at the launch of the Climate Change and Cultural Heritage Report

22 Nov 2013

It’s a real pleasure to represent the United Nations Development Programme here today, and to have a chance to see some of the historical treasures in the City Museum so early in my stay in Skopje.

UNDP has been working since 2000 with the Ministry of Environment and other local partners to help prepare to respond, in very practical ways, to the very real threats posed by climate change.

Our message is that climate change is not just about the weather. It poses real threats to all aspects of human activity, often in unexpected ways, and thus will require a coordinated response across all sectors.

One of the areas that is often overlooked in thinking about climate change is cultural heritage.

Yet, as the report we are presenting today shows, climate change poses a very real threat to the precious cultural heritage monuments that both define a nation’s history and its values and, most often as tourist attractions, also serve as important contributors to economic growth and better living standards.

Cultural heritage faces a special threat. Unlike natural resources such as forests, cultural heritage monuments cannot simply grow back after a destructive storm – when they are damaged, whether by extreme weather events such as floods or by human factors, that damage is most often irreversible.

Today’s report – which is one of the first in the world to analyse the potential impact of climate change on cultural heritage – provides very clear evidence of the extreme fragility of archaeological treasures.

But it not only sounds an alarm about the danger, but also proposes a number of concrete next steps that could be taken to begin to mitigate the threats posed by climate change and protect the country’s unique cultural heritage. We trust it will be useful to our national partners in defining specific action plans.

So let me finish by thanking our partners at GIZ and the Ministries of Cultural and Environment for their excellent cooperation in this initiative, and the Institute of Cultural Heritage for the impressive analysis.

As the threats posed by climate change loom larger and larger, we at UNDP look forward to continuing our support to the national institutions responsible for enacting a timely and effective response.

Thank you for your attention.