A NEW international network aimed at tackling the threat to cultural and heritage sites from climate change was launched in Edinburgh yesterday at an event hosted by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

One of the most iconic locations in Scotland, the World Heritage Site at Skara Brae on Orkney, was named as a potential victim of climate change during the launch of the Climate Heritage Network, which was conceived at the Global Climate Action Summit hosted by the State of California in 2018.

The network will provide a platform for the sector to unite to tackle climate change, one of the most significant and fastest-growing threats to global cultural heritage.

Worldwide rising sea levels, soaring temperatures and increasing extreme weather events place cultural heritage on the frontline of climate change.

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HES stated: “Iconic historic places – from archaeological and prehistoric sites, such as Skara Brae in Orkney, to coastal cities like Venice, Italy and Saint-Louis, Senegal – are extremely vulnerable to these impacts, which also put cultural collections, such as archives, artworks and artefacts, at risk.

“Intangible heritage, such as languages and oral traditions, also face a fight for survival as climate change threatens to displace communities.

“As well as highlighting the severity of the climate change threat to historic sites worldwide, the Climate Heritage Network will also seek to inspire individuals, organisations and communities to take climate action.

“It will emphasise how cultural heritage offers immense and virtually untapped potential to drive climate action and support just and equitable transitions by communities towards low-carbon, climate resilient futures.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the network would take “effective, collective action” against climate change.

She added that there is a “significant role” for everyone to support the change necessary to prevent environmental issues.

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She went on: “Scotland is well known throughout the world for its rich cultural heritage and we must protect our historic sites for future generations. I am proud to see Historic Environment Scotland leading the way and collaborating with partners across the globe.”

Julianne Polanco, director of the California Office of Historic Preservation and co-chair of the launch, said: “There are significant cultural heritage dimensions to every aspect of climate action covered by the Paris Agreement, including heightening ambition to address climate change, mitigating greenhouse gases, enhancing adaptive capacity, and planning for loss and damage.”