COP26 Communiqué Signatory: 

Climate Heritage Network

Bringing the power of arts, culture and heritage to climate action.

Worldwide, built heritage is being lost to climate change at an alarming rate. Along with cherished structures and places, the legacy of human civilization also declines. Cultural and social bonds are weakened at a time when greater strength and resilience is needed most. The loss of built heritage is not limited to the destruction of iconic structures, far from it. Multitudes of everyday buildings which serve essential human purposes are also lost, harming the very fabric of our cities and towns. The most vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected.

Equally alarming is the wanton destruction of millions of useful buildings in the name of progress – even in the name of climate action. Further, inappropriate modifications to existing buildings can damage culture and heritage, unnecessarily destroy material fabric, disrupt the performance of traditional construction systems, and compromise the health and well-being of occupants. Such maladaptation, however well-intentioned, is ill-conceived and counterproductive. The world cannot afford to waste viable buildings.

Building reuse is climate action. 

The climate crisis demands that every source of carbon pollution be zeroed-out rapidly. The first step to a zero-carbon building sector is to care for and fully utilize all existing buildings, including acknowledged heritage structures. The proven principles and practices of built heritage conservation are of tremendous importance and usefulness as the world confronts climate change. They are the fundamental skillsets required to manage change, extend the service life of buildings, and prioritize low-carbon building-sector solutions. 

The Climate Heritage Network serves as a clearinghouse for a wealth of resources on stewardship and climate adaptation, including:

  • Retrofit project case studies for heritage and existing buildings
  • Retrofit guidelines balancing energy performance and resource protection
  • Easy-to-use carbon estimators factoring life-cycle operational and embodied emissions
  • Building-sector decarbonization policy models that protect existing resources
  • Application of traditional design, construction methods and materials as tools for climate action

Founded in 2019, the Climate Heritage Network is an international support network of arts, culture and heritage organizations helping communities tackle climate change. The UN selected CHN to represent arts, culture, and heritage considerations in the Race to Resilience. COP and pre-COP programming and resources are available at Culture at COP.

Learn more here.