Preserving Legacies Launches Heritage Adapts to Climate Alliance

Written by
Andrew Potts
July 9, 2024

Across the globe, the omission of culture and heritage from climate adaptation policy and finance is a barrier to scaling up work to protect these community assets from climate-related risks – but the new Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) framework offers an opportunity to begin fixing this problem. The Heritage Adapts to Climate Alliance or “HACA'' aims to ensure that this potential is realized. HACA is an online community of practice for anyone who wants to collaborate on bolstering inclusion of culture and heritage in international climate adaptation policies and on supporting local leaders to leverage those policies for effective, equitable, locally-led adaptation actions. HACA is a part of a future community heritage and climate adaptation community of practice being launched by Preserving Legacies and the Climate Heritage Network with the support of the National Geographic Society. Join HACA today!

What is the Global Goal on Adaptation?

Like the more famous global mitigation target (limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C), the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) has its roots in the 2015 Paris Agreement which calls for a global goal for enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience, and reducing vulnerability. But, unlike the mitigation target, the GGA saw little action until six years after Paris when demands for parity between adaptation and mitigation began to take hold. The result was the adoption at the 2023 UN Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai of the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience (UFGCR), which aims to guide efforts of national governments and others under the GGA to protect people and ecosystems from climate change. Advocates have observed that this first GGA framework is weak on means of implementation and finance which, until addressed, limits its effectiveness especially for vulnerable populations and developing nations. Even so, the UFGCR breaks new ground by laying the foundation for objective, qualitative, and time-bound climate adaptation targets.  

Why is the GGA Important for Culture and Heritage?

At the heart of the UFGCR is a call to national governments to accelerate “swift action” on seven thematic targets which include for the first time protecting cultural heritage, alongside more traditional topics like climate-resilient water supplies and food and agricultural production. The inclusion of the protection of heritage as one of only seven UFGCR thematic targets as well as the valorization of Indigenous knowledge and traditional knowledge across the UFGCR represents a breakthrough moment in the mainstreaming of culture into climate policy.  

Paragraph 9 of the UFGCR urges national governments (and invites others) to increase ambition and enhance adaptation action and support towards the achievement by 2030 of (g) Protecting cultural heritage from the impacts of climate-related risks by developing adaptive strategies for preserving cultural practices and heritage sites and by designing climate-resilient infrastructure, guided by traditional knowledge, Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and local knowledge systems.

Three more UFGCR provisions focus on the role of culture, heritage, and the closely-related concepts of Indigenous Knowledge and traditional knowledge in broader societal adaptation. Paragraph 14 emphasizes that adaptation should be guided by, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, local knowledge systems, maladaptation avoidance, and recognition of co-benefits. Paragraph 22 encourages ethical and equitable engagement with Indigenous Peoples and local communities and application of the knowledge, wisdom, and values of Indigenous Peoples. Finally, paragraph 23 encourages national governments to broaden climate education and to empower people with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary for active action to combat climate change.

The breakthrough recognition of culture and heritage afforded by the UFGCR, if effectively leveraged, creates a powerful tool to press national (as well as local and regional) governments to accelerate work on adaptation planning for cultural heritage and to provide seats for culture and heritage advocates at climate adaptation policy making tables, as well as a strong basis in climate policy for efforts to open up climate finance to heritage adaptation projects including from multilateral and international climate funds.

What is HACA?

HACA is a volunteer, online community of practice built around collaboration to strengthen climate adaptation by bolstering the inclusion of culture and heritage in international climate adaptation policies and by supporting local leaders to leverage those policies for effective, equitable, locally-led adaptation actions. HACA is a joint project of Preserving Legacies and the Climate Heritage Network, with support from the National Geographic Society.

HACA will initially focus on the GGA/UFGCR in general and in particular on engaging with the UAE – Belém work programme to develop indicators, which was established by the UFGCR within the subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC. The work programme is expected to deliver results to COP30 in Belém, Brazil in November 2025. This includes attention to indicators for measuring progress in protecting heritage sites and cultural practices from climate change.

Through the HACA platform, HACA members can:

  • Receive up-to-date information about opportunities to participate in the implementation of the GGA and the UAE–Belém work programme and access a library of GGA information.
  • Collaborate on the submission of research, insights, and experiences from activism, professional practice, and research on culture, heritage, and climate change as part of UAE – Belém work programme consultations on indicators.
  • Help mainstream GGA heritage policy outcomes into national policy and help local communities leverage them for effective, equitable adaptation of their cultural heritage.
  • Join informal discussions to assess the current state of knowledge on adaptation of cultural heritage and efforts to fill gaps.

How can I join HACA?

HACA is open to all advocates, knowledge holders, and researchers and practitioners working at the intersection of culture, heritage and climate adaptation who want to join its online community of practice. With less than 18 months until COP30, join HACA today by filling out this short contact form.