Besides its impacts on biodiversity and natural heritage, climate change also variously affects the world’s cultural heritage, eroding archaeological remains and historical buildings, on land as well as under water. Climate change may further cause other social and cultural impacts, with communities changing the way they live, work, worship and socialize in buildings, sites and landscapes, and possibly migrating, abandoning their built heritage and losing their intangible cultural heritage.
Spread across different regions, climates and ecosystems around the world, UNESCO sites serve as global field observatories for climate change, where information on the impacts of climate change can be gathered and disseminated. Studies are currently being conducted at several sites, and the results are used to plan tailored adaptation and mitigation measures. The iconic value of these sites means they also serve as a useful platform to share information on applied and tested monitoring, mitigation and adaptation processes, and to 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. UNESCO supports its Member States in these efforts, including in building the capacity to design sustainable development options, responding to the new kinds of conservation challenge posed by climate change, developing innovative policy, tailoring management strategies, and recognizing the value of resilient protected area systems that help safeguard the global environment and human societies from the threats posed by climate change.