Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cultural Heritage and Climate Action to support greater North-South co-operation in dealing with the impacts of climate change on built and archaeological heritage across the island.
Minister Hargey said: “This is a great opportunity for my Department to co-operate with our colleagues regarding the challenges we face in relation to climate change and its implications for the historic environment.
“My Department records, protects, conserves and promotes our historic environment and has particular responsibility for our 190 state care monuments. This is an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and ensure as best we can that our precious heritage assets are protected for future generations. Climate change is an issue we should all take seriously and is one of the key themes in my Department’s five year strategy, a central element of Sustainability and Inclusive Growth.”
On behalf of the Heritage Division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Minister Noonan said. “Across this island we are faced with the shared challenge of protecting our irreplaceable archaeological and architectural heritage from the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. This Memorandum of Understanding enables even stronger North South cooperation in order to protect this heritage and we look forward to even stronger collaboration with our friends and colleagues in Northern Ireland, sharing knowledge, experiences, data and best practice.”
Minister Noonan added: “The publication of our Sectoral Adaptation Plan for Built and Archaeological Heritage has been a critical step by my department in leading what must be a joined up team effort to address the impacts of climate change. I am very grateful to Minister Hargey for the strengthened engagement of colleagues from her department working side by side with us as we help each other to shoulder the burden and address the crisis that our heritage faces.”
Heritage across the island is exposed to more intense storms, coastal erosion and sea-level rise along Atlantic coastlines, while northern climates experience increased precipitation in winter and increased risk of drought in summer. The MOU acknowledges that resilience of cultural heritage assets needs to be increased so as to reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
Both the Government of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly have declared a climate emergency and recognise the central role that cultural heritage can play in driving climate action and in supporting communities to make a just transition towards climate resilience.
Integral to informing the MoU are many cultural heritage characteristics within the landscape and seascape that have transboundary qualities and relationships which add to their understanding. This includes the presence of shared transboundary heritage assets such as historic routeways, earthworks, waterways and sea loughs such as Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough as well as a common evolution of post-medieval built heritage and historic settlement patterns across the island.