The Pocantico Statement on Climate Impacts and Cultural Heritage

In February 2015, representatives of over twenty US and international organizations met to consider strategies for preserving and continuing cultural heritage in a changing climate. The meeting was organized by the Society for American Archaeology, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the J. M. Kaplan Fund. The group gathered at the Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, near New York, and at the end of three days of discussion, the participants put their names to the ‘Pocantico Statement on Climate Impacts and Cultural Heritage’. Key to the discussion was the recognition of the crucial role that communities have in preserving threatened heritage. The resulting Call to Action invited individuals, organizations and agencies to collaborate in a number of ways, calling on ‘global individuals and institutions to collaborate with existing communities to maintain and preserve cultural heritage through a number of community empowerment projects. These projects aim to be models for how communities can successfully maintain their cultural heritage in the face of changing climate risks’. The first pledge of the statement notes that signatories shall “help empower and support local, descendant, and traditional communities to maintain and preserve what they value, including intangible heritage and subsistence lifeways” This presentation more fully describes the Pocantico statement, which aims to publicize a call for action and encourage heritage professionals to promote community action at sites threatened by climate change.