1MILLET HERITAGES AND CLIMATE ADAPTATION FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD FUTURES.
Understanding the relationship between food heritage, sustainable farming practices, and future food choices is a particularly crucial development issue facing humanity in the context of climate change. Using oral history, the Changing Farming Lives project documented how women small farmers in southern India maintain cultural heritage and traditional knowledge relating to millets so as to ensure food security and agricultural resilience in the face of a warming local climate. At the heart of these practices is their repeated seed-saving of heirloom, or heritage, finger millet varieties over generations. As a result, they acquire the knowledge that enables the selection of seeds from plants that are more resistant and adaptable to changing weather conditions. Farmers typically intercrop millets with legumes and pulses ensuring nutritional food diversity and the maintenance of local food culture and agro-ecological resilience.
Another important aspect of heritage is the farmers’ intimate knowledge of the 27 different rains established by ancient Indian astronomy, which they still use to forecast weather and to guide the sequence of their tilling and sowing activities. Moreover, farming ways of life remain nourished and sustained by wider systems of folk religious faith which represent another aspect of intangible heritage. Farming and food-centred activities typically blend the secular and the spiritual, involving rituals and performances that reach out to the divine as good crops and food provision are ultimately believed to be the consequences of divine blessing.
Dr Sandip Hazareesingh, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Open University (UK)
2SUPPORTING CLIMATE ACTION THROUGH ARTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE IN AFRICA
Climate change is one of the most significant risks for UNESCO World Heritage properties worldwide, including many African heritage sites. For example, in Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara (Tanzania), the Indian Ocean sea level rise and increasingly intense storm activity are causing the loss of archaeological deposits and land, exacerbating other socio-economic and ecological stresses, including land management practices. Similarly, the Sukur Cultural Landscape (Nigeria) is threatened by changing rainfall patterns, windstorms and reduced vegetation cover which are impacting agricultural production and the availability of culturally important traditional building material. The African World Heritage Fund joined forces with Climate Heritage Network members and local partners and stakeholders to increase local capacity to adapt to these threats by testing the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) in Africa. This innovative approach aims to assess the physical and ecological risks due to the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage sites and the economic, social and cultural consequences for the sites and their associated communities. Remote learning techniques and hands-on workshops were developed in the above-mentioned WH properties to provide foundational training to African heritage professionals and address the gap that exists in understanding climate impacts on cultural heritage in Africa, while creating longer-term capacity within the African heritage community.
Dr Albino Jopela, Head of Programmes, African World Heritage Fund (AWHF)
3THE CLIMATE VULNERABILITY OF THE HEART OF NEOLITHIC ORKNEY.
The Heart of Neolithic Orkney (HONO) is a UNESCO World Heritage property comprising four Neolithic monuments on the Orkney island archipelago off northern Scotland. Together, the monuments bear testimony to a cultural tradition which flourished 5,000–4,000 years ago, including evidence for domestic life, ceremonial expression and death and burial. In 2019, thanks to the ICOMOS Climate Change and Heritage Working Group, the HONO management partners worked with James Cook University (Australia) and the Union of Concerned Scientists on the global cultural pilot of the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI). A three-day workshop with a range of participants (50% based on Orkney) assessed the key climate drivers and their impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the site as well as the economic, social and cultural dependency of its associated community. The conclusions were that the site had a high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, but that its community vulnerability was moderate, recognising the high adaptive capacity locally. The results of the workshop are feeding into the current revision of the site’s Management Plan. This will recognise that climate change mitigation and adaptation must be woven throughout the Plan, which will seek flexible delivery and be proactive rather than reactive.
Alice Lyall, Deputy Head of World Heritage & Heart of Neolithic Orkney WH Site Coordinator; Dr Rebecca Jones, Head of Archaeology and World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland (UK)