Cultural heritage, ecology

International Day for Monuments is on April 18. This year, the 25th anniversary of the day and the 35th birthday of the World Heritage Convention, the celebrations are dedicated to cultural landscapes and monuments of nature. The theme is climate change and its effects on world heritage. UNESCO warns that the list of monuments under threat ranges from the national park of Kilimanjaro to the Tower of London. The celebrations will be dedicated to those monuments that are the most neglected due to climate change and those most at risk, Nikos Agriantonis, president of the Greek branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), told Kathimerini. They include African monuments (especially those made of wood) whose conservation is affected by damp, and many others in China, India, Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. To help protect 830 natural and cultural monuments on the World Heritage List, UNESCO is sounding a warning about where drought, floods and the rise in the sea level due to melting polar ice are most likely to appear in coming decades. Its announcement is based on the result of a decision by the World Heritage Committee in 2005 to start studying the consequences of climate change on monuments around the world. In March 2006, 50 experts met at UNESCO and four months later presented the committee with their conclusions, proposals and a strategy to assist the 183 states that are signatories of the World Heritage Convention. Among the monuments that the experts deemed vulnerable to climate change were the fragile pre-Columbian Chan Chan citadel in Peru and the ruins of the capital of ancient Chimou (1500-300 BC) in the Peruvian central Andes. UNESCO is also concerned about historic cities. A change in water level will affect buildings and the social structure of historic cities, with consequences for three monuments on the Thames: the Naval Museum, the Tower of London and Westminster Palace. The combined effects of the changes will hit Venice, which is already vulnerable to flooding. The water level will rise an estimated 54 cm and unless measures are taken the city will be flooded every day. The Greek branch proposed some secondary themes for this year’s celebrations. Agriantonis explained that the local branch wants to mobilize experts, «but many of them cannot comprehend the extent of the disaster.» The Greeks also want to draw attention to Greek monuments such as the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the Acropolis of Athens. Next year, International Day for Monuments is expected to be devoted to religious heritage and sacred places.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.