Credit University of Exeter

Waves batter the historic Mullion Cove harbour walls during a storm in 2014, an occurrence which will become more common as the climate changes. Credit University of Exeter

University of Exeter joins Climate Heritage Network

The University of Exeter has joined the Climate Heritage Network (CHN).

Launched in 2019, the network includes numerous arts, culture and heritage organisations from around the world committed to tackling climate change and achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

The network aims to “scale up culture-based climate solutions” and to help heritage organisations be "full partners in the design, planning and execution of their communities’ climate action strategies".

As participants in the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow next month, CHN and its members will ensure that culture and heritage are part of climate policy making and problem solving

The University of Exeter joins other international universities in supporting the work of the CHN with applied, collaborative research.

Exeter researchers are involved in a wide range of projects that consider how the heritage sector can respond to the changes driven by the climate crisis.

“The work of the Climate Heritage Network has been extremely influential in shifting the narrative about heritage and climate change, showing how heritage practitioners and researchers can help catalyse climate action and adaptation – while also developing new approaches for conservation and mitigation," said Professor Caitlin DeSilvey, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"In our rapidly changing world, the space for international collaboration and cross-sector exchange provided by the network is essential if we are to work towards climate justice and equitable adaptation."

Peter Lefort, the University’s contact for the Climate Heritage Network, said: "Arts, culture and heritage shape the way we experience the world, and have a crucial role in how we protect it.

"Joining this network will help us better connect the world-leading environmental and climate research we are undertaking with our equally cutting-edge work in the heritage sector.”

Hannah Fluck, Historic England Head of Environmental Strategy, and member of the CHN Steering Committee, said: “Building closer relationships between universities, policy makers and practitioners is critical for realising the potential for culture, heritage and the arts to support action a sustainable, low-carbon future society.

"My own experiences of working with the University of Exeter have shown how important that collaboration can be in helping to navigate some of the more challenging questions that the climate crisis poses for the future of our heritage.

"The Climate Heritage Network seeks to bring together organisations from across culture, heritage and the arts to nurture the sorts of collaboration that ultimately creates real change for people and our planet, I am really pleased to welcome University of Exeter to this network."

Tanya Venture, a joint Exeter/Historic England PhD student, will give a presentation on her research about heritage loss and community engagement for the UK Climate Resilience Heritage Summit ahead of the COP26 talks, alongside other Climate Heritage Network members, including Historic Environment Scotland, English Heritage Trust and Cadw.

Exeter's climate heritage research also includes Landscape Futures, a collaborative project with the National Trust and Historic England, led by Professor DeSilvey. The project’s innovative work is featured in a newly released report by the Historic Environment Forum’s COP26 Task Group charting how heritage organisations are taking positive action on climate change.

Date: 20 October 2021