World Heritage site - Venice

Culture and Climate Change

Culture: the ultimate renewable resource to tackle climate change

Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time. This is also true for the cultural and natural heritage of humanity.

Yet culture is a key resource for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

UNESCO is fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change on culture, and to enhancing the potential of culture for global climate action, through natural areas protected by the World Heritage Convention, the safeguarding of intangible heritage and traditional knowledge, and support to cultural institutions and actors, drawing on all its international conventions in the field of culture.

Climate Change
We must act collectively to protect cultural heritage from the growing effects of climate change. UNESCO’s natural World Heritage sites and intangible heritage practices play an important role in protecting the environment and conserving biodiversity
Audrey Azoulay Director General of UNESCO

Quantifying climate benefits from UNESCO World Heritage forests

UNESCO World Heritage forests can continue to be reliable carbon sinks if they are effectively protected from local and global threats. The high profile, global reach, and inspirational power of World Heritage sites underpin a strong case for action. The successful implementation of actions to protect these forests requires the mobilization of key stakeholders (e.g., governments, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and the private sector) to develop sustainable financing and investments and promote interdisciplinary knowledge-sharing for decision-making.


Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience


Creative Cities

Facts and figures

million tons of CO2 absorbed each year

by forests in


natural World Heritage sites

Of 318
World Heritage cities



are coastal and are impacted by climate change

Climate Action for World Heritage

World Heritage properties serve as climate change observatories to gather and share information on applied and tested monitoring, mitigation and adaptation practices. The global network of World Heritage also helps raise awareness on the impacts of climate change on human societies and cultural diversity, biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the world’s natural and cultural heritage.



Climate Change

Climate Action for intangible heritage

'Operational principles and modalities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in emergencies’ were adopted in 2020 by the General Assembly of States Parties to the 2003 Convention. They highlight the dual role of intangible cultural heritage in emergencies, both as being under threat and as a valuable resource drawn on by communities to help them prepare for, respond to and recover from various types of emergency situations, including those related to climate change.



Papua, Indonesia

Latest publications

World Heritage forests: carbon sinks under pressure
World Resources Institute