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World Monuments Fund Launches $15 Million Climate Heritage Initiative to Safeguard Historic Sites

New Projects Aim to Address Urgent Threats Posed by Climate Change to Cultural Heritage Worldwide

New York, NY – The World Monuments Fund (WMF), a leading independent organization dedicated to preserving cultural heritage, has announced the launch of its new Climate Heritage Initiative, a $15 million suite of projects aimed at addressing the profound risks posed by climate change to historic sites across the globe.

Unesco estimates that one in six cultural-heritage sites is threatened by climate change, highlighting the urgency of WMF’s mission. The organization is expanding its commitment to global cultural heritage through evaluation, restoration efforts, and adaptation methods, including the rehabilitation of water storage and conveyance systems in India, Nepal, and Peru.

To oversee these efforts, WMF has appointed Meredith Wiggins, an archaeologist and environmental researcher, as its new senior director of climate adaptation. Wiggins will assume her position next month and bring her expertise in the intersection between natural and built environments to the role.

“While the magnitude of the threat posed by climate change to societies worldwide is widely recognized, its particular impact on cultural heritage remains understudied,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, president and chief executive of WMF. “Our team is working diligently to address the threats facing some of our most treasured places and explore potential solutions that traditional buildings and infrastructure can offer us in the present.”

The initiative encompasses a range of projects focused on water security, historic garden preservation, coastal resilience, and inclusive heritage.

In India, WMF will restore historic water infrastructure in five sites to improve community water supply. In Nepal, the organization will map and document traditional water-distribution systems and work with local authorities to enhance their capacity and provide conservation oversight. In Peru, WMF will rehabilitate traditional Andean systems for storing runoff during the dry season.

WMF is also commissioning a landscape analysis of traditional management systems in historic gardens to establish best practices in the face of climate change. Additionally, the organization will create a global network of heritage professionals working to protect coastal sites, using Hurst Castle in the UK as a center for knowledge exchange.

Other priority projects include conservation efforts in earthquake-ravaged Antakya, Turkey; the restoration of a landmark glass dome in Kyiv, Ukraine, damaged by Russian missiles; and the reinvigoration of Phnom Bakheng, a major temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

WMF will continue its legacy projects, including sustainable tourism initiatives in Ciudad Perdida, Colombia, and the preservation of traditional vernacular architecture in Dali Village, China.

“Traditional wisdom captured over generations has enabled communities to adapt to changing environmental conditions,” noted Rohit Jigyasu, project manager at the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, during a WMF panel discussion. Vernacular architecture is often designed to control the climate in a beautiful way.