March 10, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Angkor Archaeological Park was selected as one of ten worldwide heritage sites for a new global initiative announced by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on March 7. The initiative seeks to safeguard sites of cultural significance from the impacts of climate change.
“The ‘Preserving Legacies : A Future for our Past’ project will equip communities worldwide with the tools to accurately assess worsening and future climate impacts on cultural heritage sites in order to rescue them before it is too late,” said a March 7 ICOMOS press release.
ICOMOS is partnering with the National Geographic Society and the Climate Heritage Network (CHN), as well as with local communities and site management teams to carry out the Manulife-funded project.
People and their cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, are increasingly vulnerable to climate change hazards, it said.
“The resulting impacts on monuments, inherited traditions, and knowledge systems in turn affect people’s values, livelihoods, and identity, with profound consequences for communities. And yet cultural heritage is rarely prioritised in national and international climate change policy agendas,” noted the release.
“To fill this gap, there is an urgent need to equip communities worldwide with the tools to accurately anticipate and assess worsening and future climate impacts on culture, and help them turn that scientific knowledge into action to safeguard sites,” it added.
The project will be carried out on two primary heritagesites and eight observer sites. Angkor will seve as one of the eight observer sites.
“Observer sites will engage in climate heritage trainings and a peer-to-peer learning experience. Participants from all sites will help grow an international community of practice focused on climate action at the intersections of cultural heritage and climate adaptation,” said ICOMOS.
“The program integrates scientific, local, and Indigenous knowledge to find sustainable and culturally appropriate solutions to the long-term preservation of cultural heritage sites,” it added.
The goal is to foster better approaches to adaptation and learning from past ancestral practices to safeguard values for the next generations.
“Just as heritage places anchor communities, they should be at the forefront of climate change response,” said Will Megarry, focal point for climate change at ICOMOS.
“The CHN is proud to be a part of the work of preserving legacies to scale up climate action at culturally significant places through global peer learning, networking, storytelling and new open access resources,” he added.
APSARA National Authority (ANA) spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on March 8 that he had not yet received details of the project.
“We work with local communities to promote the intangible value of cultural heritage and also promotes activities that increase awareness heritage as the core of socio-economic development,” he said.
“We have recently restored the irrigation infrastructure of the Angkorian period, as well as the replanting of many trees,” he added.