07.12.2015 - Culture Sector

COP 21 - Underwater cultural heritage gives light to sea level rise development over time

UNESCO held an event at COP21 on the 3rd of December exploring the relationship between underwater cultural heritage, sea level rise and climate change in which leading maritime archaeologists and science policy experts gave talks to attendees visiting the Climate Generations area of COP21. The event was held at the UNESCO Pavilion in the Climate Generations area, which will also host many other events throughout the duration of the Conference.

For over 90% of the existence of humankind, the sea was about 40-130 meters lower than the level of today. A substantial amount of prehistoric and historic evidence of the life of our ancestors is now submerged. These remains are now underwater heritage, and provide an extremely important source of information about the first human civilizations, human origins, and also about climate change and its impact. Today, as we face sea level changes again, this heritage can help us put our current challenges into a wider context.

The speakers at the event were Ulrike Guerin, Programme Specialist at UNESCO; Dr Nicholas Flemming of the National Oceanography Centre, UK; Garry Momber, Director of the Maritime Archaeology Trust, UK; and Nan-Chin Chu, a Science Officer at the European Marine Board. Their talks explored research on submerged landscapes and how the resulting data fit in to our understanding of past climate change. They also outlined current collaborations and future prospects for advancing this research.

After the talks the audience participated in a lively discussion with the experts focussing on some interesting and pressing issues.

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