Impacts on Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diversity
Edited By Sabine von Schorlemer and Sylvia Maus
Impact of Global Change on World Heritage and on Environmental Resources: The Need for an Integrated Management Approach
Impact of Global Change on World Heritage and on Environmental Resources: The Need for an Integrated Management Approach
Abstract Natural Heritage sites are obviously closely related to and affected by environmental resources (mainly water and soil) of the area they are situated in. However, also Cultural Heritage sites are not only affected by e.g. water (via precipitation, water level etc), but in most cases are part of a cultural landscape in which the surrounding nature and its environmental resources are a critical element. This notion certainly holds for Cultural Heritage in which water is an essential part. Further, any change in land use of heritage sites, be it climate related or man-made, may have a strong impact. Thus, virtually all Cultural Heritage Sites cannot be managed and maintained without considering their natural environment. Climate change directly affects both Natural and Cultural Heritage sites (e.g. changing temperature and precipitation patterns and changing, often increasing frequency of catastrophic events), but perhaps more importantly, it has an indirect effect via its impact on the environmental resources. In addition, climate change may increase the pressure on heritage sites by increasing human impact, since the people in the region may face a shortage of natural resources and/or increase in population density or move to urban areas. This means one has to consider impacts of global change rather than only climate.
Mitigating the direct and indirect impacts of global change on heritage sites and/or adapting to it requires an integrated approach. Protection and management of heritage sites must be considered in the context of managing environmental ← 101 | 102 → resources in the region in a sustainable way. In addition, especially in developing countries, these management strategies need to be embedded in a suite of measures and activities in capacity development addressing all relevant stakeholders. The mission of the United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) is to address the urgent need for integrated and sustainable management strategies for environmental resources, focusing on water, soil and waste. Such an integrated approach to the management of inter-related resources may also be termed a nexus approach to the management of water, soil and waste. Implementing such strategies, considering capacity development both at the individual and institutional level will be one means to manage and maintain World Heritage, be it natural or cultural.
IHeritage Sites and Their Environment
The UNESCO World Heritage Center currently lists 119 water-related properties (lakes) of outstanding universal value, among them 59 listed as Cultural Heritage, 51 as Natural Heritage and 8 as mixed sites.1 Natural heritage sites, often representing national parks and reserves, are protected mainly as areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance, as outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, or significant ecological and biological processes in the evolution of ecosystems or based on their biological diversity. Usually, human impact and use of natural resources in these areas is prohibited or very restricted. For Natural Heritage sites it is clear and obvious that they are strongly related and interlinked with their natural environment. Any change in land-use, increasing usage or withdrawal of water, mostly associated with pollution would certainly directly affect the Natural Heritage site.
Is this close relation and dependency of Heritage sites on the natural environment and the surrounding environmental resources indeed so specific to Natural Heritage? In fact, we are making the case here that it applies also to Cultural Heritage sites in a similar way. When talking about specific monuments and buildings, the relation is obviously not as close as to Natural Heritage sites, although they are still affected by environmental resources, e.g. by water via precipitation (potentially polluted), groundwater level etc. However, the relation of Cultural Heritage sites to the surrounding environmental resources is in many (if not in ← 102 | 103 → most) cases much closer and rather similar to Natural Heritage sites: Cultural Heritage sites are typically closely embedded into their natural environment with its natural resources; they are part of a landscape (if not the landscape itself is the Cultural Heritage). This means, also in the case of Cultural Heritage, any change in land-use, be it climate-related or man-made, or any change in the availability or quality of water resources, will have an impact.
Some arbitrarily chosen prominent examples to showcase the close interrelatedness with environmental resources are briefly described as follows (Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4); please note that all are explicitly classified as Cultural Heritage:
•West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou (China):2 This is considered an outstanding example of a cultural landscape where natural elements, farmed landscape and artificial elements manifest a perfect fusion;
•Angkor (Cambodia):3 This site includes a concentration of impressive monuments, “closely linked to their geographic context”, including (artificial) water bodies, forests and cultivated land;
•Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System (Iran):4 Dating back to the 3rd century BCE “it is as rich in its diversity of civil engineering structures and its constructions as in the diversity of its uses (urban water supply, mills, irrigation, river transport, and defensive system)”. Its close relationship to water resources, but also to soil and land-use management, is obvious;
•Historic Centre of Vienna (Austria):5 While the justification for inscription focuses on the architectural qualities, it is clear that the river Danube is an essential element within the city centre.
Looking beyond the official World Heritage list there are more examples where the sustainable use of water and soil resources has inspired people to create remarkable technical constructions and inventions, which typically do have a strong cultural dimension. One such example are so-called Qanats, historic hydraulic structures developed by the Iranian people, dating back to the 1st millennium BC. A Qanat is a series of well-like shafts, connecting gently sloping underground channels transporting water over long distances to human settlements and irrigated land. This technology is widely used in arid and semi-arid areas. A category II UNESCO Centre was established in 2005 and is active in research, training and technology transfer related to Qanat technology and other historic hydraulic structures.6
← 106 | 107 → In conclusion: virtually all Cultural Heritage Sites (besides other technical and cultural monuments worth preserving) similarly to Natural Heritage sites rely on – and are closely related to – water and soil resources of their environment. This means they cannot be managed and maintained without considering their natural environment and its environmental resources, in particular water and soil.
IIImpact of Global Change
Typical challenges for the ecosystems of Natural Heritage sites mostly refer to illegal human activities such as hunting, fishing, clearance of woods or any type of pollution. Climate change poses another challenge by changing temperature and precipitation patterns, increasing frequency and intensity of catastrophic events affecting water and soil resources and associated phenomena such as sea level rise, desertification etc. Climate change has direct and indirect effects on the flora and fauna of Natural Heritage sites and may cause species’ extinctions, shifts in species’ geographic distributions, increasing frequency of neobiota and alterations in ecosystem structure and function due to changes in species’ interactions.7
In addition, however, climate change may increase the pressure on Natural Heritage sites by increasing human impact, since the people in the region may face a shortage of natural resources due to climate-driven changes in water and food security, desertification, caused both by decreased rainfall and intensified land use, increased frequency and intensity of floods and droughts etc. Increasing population densities and urbanization put additional pressure on environmental resources and are intricately linked to climate change.
Overall, due to this close inter-linkage and concomitance of factors, one has to consider impact of global change, including climate, but also population growth, urbanization and demographic changes when looking at the challenges for integrated resources management.8
For Cultural Heritage sites, similar to natural ones, there will also be a direct impact of climate, via precipitation and temperature patterns, related both to extreme events9 and long-term changes in temperature and precipitation patterns.10 Technical measures to preserve and protect buildings, monuments etc may be applied to mitigate these direct effects. As laid out in the previous section, Cultural Heritage sites in the majority of cases cannot be considered, maintained and managed without their natural environment, in particular with respect to water and land-use. Therefore, impacts of climate change on World Heritage sites (both cultural and natural, see above) will to a large extent be transferred via environmental resources (see upper part of Figure 2). These are, besides climatic factors, strongly influenced by other aspects of global change, in particular population growth and urbanization.
Given the close relationship of World Heritage sites to their environment, managing environmental resources, in particular water and soil, will be an important issue for maintenance, development and management of World Heritage. Looking at common approaches to manage water and soil resources, a sectorial view on their management was and still is usually practised, typically also reflected in the respective bureaucracy and organisational structure of ministries (governance) as well as in education.
1.Water Management as an Example
In the case of water management, responsibilities are often distributed between various sectors: energy (hydropower, cooling water), agriculture (irrigation), health (drinking water supply), environment, fisheries, public works/transport (water ways and other infrastructure) etc. The fragmented and sectorial view often resulted in conflicting management strategies and overall poor management results. As a response to this, the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) was developed and has become widely accepted in recent years. It aims at considering water across all compartments and phases, taking into account the various uses and users and also the institutional framework, governance and capacity development.
IWRM was in particular promoted and emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which addressed development within an environmental framework and thus emphasized the global perspective of IWRM. Many research projects and case studies have since been conducted around the world and have provided some general lessons, but many challenges remain to the application of IWRM in practice.11 Not surprisingly, the implementation of the approach into water governance lags behind both in many developed countries, as well as in developing countries, although it has at least been initiated.12 By nature, IWRM involves and addresses to a certain extent waste (water) management in addition to soil and land use management as far as land use (e.g. in a river basin) affects water quantity and quality. However, IWRM looks at soil and waste only from a water perspective.
← 109 | 110 → Conversely, soil and waste integrated management approaches have also been propagated. While they provide a wider view on the issues than a purely technical/engineering perspective (which has been common in earlier decades), they fail to provide a holistic approach. Neither IWRM nor the concepts of integrated soil (fertility) management or integrated waste management capture and consider the full range of inter-connectivity and the feed-back loops between these resources, which would be needed to achieve sustainable management. Therefore, it is nowadays increasingly recognized that they should be developed further and merged to an integrated resources management approach, an approach explicitly considering the nexus of these resources.
2.The nexus approach to management of environmental resources
With specific reference to interlinked environmental resources, the term ‘nexus’ has already been used in the 1980s within the framework of the Food Energy Nexus Programme of UNU.13 However, it was only in – and after – the Bonn 2011 Conference on “The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus – Solutions for the Green Economy” that the concept and the term nexus itself gained wider recognition.14 This approach emphasizes the interdependence of water, energy and food security, taking synergies and trade-offs in the management of these nexus elements into account. Various case studies provide evidence that a nexus approach may facilitate integrated management and governance strategies, overall promoting sustainability and the transition to a Green Economy.
From a resources management perspective on the nexus of water, energy and food security, a nexus approach needs to be developed and implemented by integrating water resources management and soil and land-use management. Also to be considered and included in the nexus approach is waste management, especially concerning organic matter and the recycling of nutrients.15 The nexus of water, soil and waste results from various material flows and transitions, e.g. the soil transferring run-off and percolation into the blue water (surface and groundwater), and the latter by soil into the green water that plants use for their growth. The soil also contributes to the transformation of waste from crops, animals and trees into humus and plant nutrients and vice versa. Human use of ← 110 | 111 → water creates grey and black waters, which can be used through purification as a source of water and plant nutrients. Also, the application of sludge on soil is an important source of nutrients and organic matter. The contaminated water, grey and black, must be converted into blue and green by denaturing and filtration through soil. The goal is reuse and recycling of the waste following appropriate purification treatment. Thus, the nexus of water, soil and waste is essential for their sustainable management, for increasing water efficiency and soil productivity for food production and for adapting to climate change (see below).
The sustainable management strategies to be developed, advancing a nexus approach, have to be based on consistent and comprehensive systems and flux analysis approaches. Flux analysis, the quantification of material flows and the consistent tracing and follow up of the resource under question, throughout its migration (passage, flow, transport, transfer), through subsequent compartments and phases is essential for closing cycles and a prerequisite for sustainable management. In case of the resource water, this approach would imply to close both the so-called small and large water cycles. The small one describes the sequence nature withdrawal, channel transport of water, treatment plant, distribution system, consumption/use, collection and transport of sewage and waste water, treatment, recycling and/or return to nature, and thus it is linked to the large water cycle (passage of water in the natural hydrosphere: atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, oceans and so forth). Besides closing cycles, the nexus approach requires linking cycles, in particular considering the linkage between water, soil and waste and the associated materials as briefly outlined above.
Obvious links arise from the fact that water is not only a resource, but also a transport medium and dissolver of minerals such as nutrients. Taking the case of phosphors, a limited resource and an essential element in all organisms and an important nutrient in agriculture, it clearly represents a broken biogeochemical cycle.16 While peak phosphorus is lying ahead, too much of this essential element is lost via erosion and run-off to rivers, lakes and ultimately the sea, causing eutrophication problems and making recycling unfeasible, at least with current technologies. Systems and flux analysis approaches, using modelling tools are required to quantify material flows and losses and to identify the gaps in the cycle. Respective models may also be used for scenario analysis to study the impacts of global change, considering for example climate change as well as urbanization, population growth and demographic changes.
Environmental resources management always needed and needs to cope with uncertainties and changing boundary conditions, but the challenges are becoming more pressing in times of concurrent global trends in terms of climate, population growth, urbanization etc and correspondingly accelerating material flows. As an example, not only does climate change accelerate the large hydrological cycle, but also globalized markets accelerate the flow of virtual water around the world. This issue cannot be neglected in the context of water management and offers opportunities for adaption via economic incentives and regulations. Another driver of the water cycle is land-use change, e.g. deforestation affecting evapotranspiration patterns. Conversely, land-use management can be used as a tool for water management. Within a nexus approach, this could be combined with other aspects of climate-smart agriculture, which has been promoted in recent years.17 Changing land-use and agricultural practices may also enhance carbon sequestration as one aspect of climate change mitigation. Adaptation to climate change through a nexus approach may also be applied in urban areas, as exemplified in the blue green dream initiative.18
Coming back to World Heritage and their adaptive management in the context of their surrounding environment and its resources, a nexus approach to water, soil and waste management offers more opportunities for adaptive management than any sector-oriented management approach. This will, besides management measures targeted directly to World Heritage sites, address the indirect effect of global change via environmental resources (lower part of Figure 2).
A nexus perspective on environmental resources management not only needs to have a holistic view on the material flows and cycling of water, soil and waste, but also needs to be policy oriented. This was one of the main items worked out in the white book on Advancing a Nexus Approach to the Sustainable Management of Water, Soil and Waste.19 How to implement a nexus approach to environmental resources management, which institutional frameworks will be best suited and how they can be developed and improved are among the main questions to be addressed. Closely related to this issue is the need for capacity ← 112 | 113 → development, taking a multi-level approach.20 To be able to implement a nexus approach, well-trained stakeholders at all levels and all sectors (academia, practitioners, decision makers), which understand the concept, are required. This can be addressed by capacity development at the individual level, requiring target and region-specific study programmes as well as training programmes and courses addressing the nexus of water soil and waste. Successful implementation of management strategies requires also, however, an enabling environment, which is an issue in institutional capacity development.
4.UNU-FLORES: A Response to the Challenges
Since the Bonn 2011 Nexus Conference and partly in parallel to it, various initiatives and projects have been started to carry and develop the nexus concept further. One such initiative is the establishment of the United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) in Dresden, Germany. It was initiated and proposed jointly by UNU and its partner university TU Dresden. UNU-FLORES was officially inaugurated in December 2012. Its mission is directly related to the nexus concept, namely “to contribute, through research, teaching, advanced training, capacity development and knowledge dissemination to the resolution of pressing challenges in the area of integrated management of environmental resources: soil, water and waste that are of concern to the United Nations and its member states particularly in developing and emerging economies”.21 UNU-FLORES aims at acting at the forefront of initiatives promoting a nexus approach by serving within the UN system as a think tank that is internationally recognized as a major hub and intellectual focal point, promoting integrated management of environmental resources.
UNU-FLORES is unique in the sense that its academic functional structure is consistent with the water-soil-waste nexus (see Figure 3), which is, as outlined above, closely related to the water, energy and food security nexus promoted by the Bonn 2011 conference. The organization of UNU-FLORES into ← 113 | 114 → five academic units – three core scientific units dealing with the interconnected resources (Water Resources Management (WRM), Waste Management (WM) and Soil and Land use Management (SLM) supported by two cross cutting units (Systems and Flux Analysis considering global change assessment (SFA) and Capacity Development and Governance (CDG) – supports the think tank function of UNU.
The work program of core scientific units to a large extent will be based on close cooperation with SFA to better understand the interactions between atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and pedosphere. It is envisaged that the capacity development and governance unit will create demand for knowledge products (such as online courses), identify opportunities to field test new methodologies, facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas across regions based on institutional good practice and seek to create partnerships for education, research and training that support a think tank function.
UNU-FLORES will pursue its activities in close interaction with a network of partners. Besides collaborating with other UNU institutes working in related areas, it has established close relationships with UN organizations working in the respective areas, such as FAO, UNEP, UN-HABITAT and UNESCO-IHE. A major partner of UNU-FLORES is Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden), in particular the faculty of environmental sciences, which has ample experience in closing cycles related to the management of water, soil and waste. Major joint activities related to advancing a nexus approach to the sustainable management of water, soil and waste include:
•the establishment of a regular international Nexus conference in Dresden; a kick-off workshop took place in November 2013, the major conceptual background had been drafted in a white book22 which was finalized in early 2014;
•various initiatives for research projects dealing with various aspects of the water-soil-waste nexus.
Another partnership is currently being established in Maputo, Mozambique. This initiative started concomitantly to the establishment of UNU-FLORES in Dresden and aims at creating a regional hub for environmental resources management in Southern Africa. Based in Maputo, closely cooperating with the Eduardo Mondlane University and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Mozambique, but also with a network for research and education spread all over Africa23, an operating unit of UNU-FLORES will take up activities in 2014.
Building on these and additional partnerships with international research organizations and universities as well as on direct contacts to governmental bodies in member states, UNU-FLORES is well positioned to fulfil its envisaged role as a think tank for integrated management of environmental resources – soil, water and waste – and to consolidate the scientific foundation of the nexus approach by filling critical knowledge gaps relating the nexus approach and its implementation. With its focus on policy-relevant research, considering capacity development and governance, UNU-FLORES will be able to provide the adaptive management strategies as depicted in Figure 2 as one important component of an integrated management approach to World Heritage sites. Given its mission to act as a think tank for the UN system, UNU-FLORES is keen to cooperate with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on implementing and adapting such integrated management plans, including short, medium and long-term actions to protect and maintain World Heritage, as outlined in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.24 Such management systems of World Heritage, considering buffer zones, include a monitoring plan, ← 115 | 116 → capacity building activities and may allow the use of World Heritage properties in a sustainable way. This might best be achieved by developing a nexus approach to the management of water, soil and waste for the respective World Heritage sites and implementing it in the framework of the management system for these properties. The respective state parties, which are requested to submit the periodic reports on the status of World Heritage, should, via intergovernmental mechanisms, be involved in environmental resources management.
IVSummary and Conclusion: Integrated Management of Environmental Resources as Means to Manage and Maintain World Heritage
Mitigating the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on World Heritage (both natural and cultural) requires an integrated approach. Protection and management of World Heritage must be considered in the context of managing environmental resources in the region in a sustainable way. The most appropriate approach to achieve this should be a nexus approach considering the close interrelations of environmental resources such as water, soil and waste. In addition, especially in developing countries, these management strategies need to be embedded in a suite of measures and activities in capacity development addressing all relevant stakeholders, thus considering both individual and institutional capacity development. UNU-FLORES considers itself as a direct response of the UN system to address these issues and to advance a nexus approach to the sustainable management of water, soil and waste, acting as a think tank for the UN system and member states through policy-relevant research, education and capacity development. Implementing a nexus approach in the respective region or city will be one means and an important component to manage and maintain World Heritage, be it natural or cultural.
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Blue Green Dream Project, Official Website bgd.org.uk/ accessed 9 December 2013
Elser, J and E Bennett, ‘Phosphorus Cycle: A Broken Biogeochemical Cycle’ (2011) 478 Nature 29
FAO, ‘Coping with a Changing Climate: Considerations for Adaptation and Mitigation in Agriculture’ (Rome 2009) www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1315e/i1315e00.htm accessed 5 December 2013
← 116 | 117 → Hoff, H, ‘Understanding the NEXUS, Background Paper for the Bonn2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus’ (Stockholm Environment Institute 2011) www.water-energy-food.org/en/whats_the_nexus/background.html accessed 5 December 2013
Hülsmann, S and R Ardakanian, ‘Proceedings of the Regional Workshop on Establishment of a Network for Partnership of UNU-FLORES Based in Maputo, Mozambique’ (UNU-FLORES 2013)
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Turner, M, ‘Urban Resilience for Climate Change’, Climate Change as a Threat to Peace: Impacts on Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diversity (2014)
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UNU, ‘Statute of the UNU Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)’ (United Nations University 2010) unu.edu accessed 5 December 2013
∗ Prof. Reza Ardakanian is founding director of the United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES), Dresden, Germany. Experiencing boards of various international programs or organizations, such like UNESCO-IHP, UNESCO-IHE, the International Hydropower Association and UNU-EHS, he has served as director of the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development hosted by UNU since 2007 and as vice-rector ad interim of UNU in Europe.
Dr. Stephan Hülsmann holds the position of academic officer of UNU-FLORES and specialist in Systems and Flux Analysis considering Global Change Assessment.
7 Céline Bellard et al, ‘Impacts of Climate Change on the Future of Biodiversity’ (2012) 15 Ecology Letters 365.
8 UNEP, ‘Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resources Management’ (UNEP 2012).
9 See the contribution of Michael Turner & Rachel Singer on Urban Resilience in Climate Change.
10 See the contribution of Roger-Alexandre Lefèvre on The Impact of Climate Change on Slow Degradation of Monuments in Contrast to Extreme Events.
11 Roberto Lenton and Mike Muller (eds), Integrated Water Resources Management in Practice: Better Water Management for Development (Earthscan 2009).
12 UNEP (n 8).
13 Ignacy Sachs and Dana Silk, Food and Energy: Strategies for Sustainable Development (United Nations University Press 1990).
14 Holger Hoff, ‘Understanding the NEXUS’ Background Paper for the Bonn 2011 Conference ‘The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus’ (Stockholm Environment Institute 2011).
15 Rattan Lal, The Nexus of Soil, Water and Waste (UNU-FLORES 2013).
16 James Elser and Elena Bennett, ‘Phosphorus Cycle: A Broken Biogeochemical Cycle’ (2011) 478 Nature 29.
17 FAO, ‘Coping with a Changing Climate: Considerations for Adaptation and Mitigation in Agriculture’ (Rome 2009).
19 UNU-FLORES, ‘White Book – Advancing a Nexus Approach to the Sustainable Management of Water, Soil and Waste’ (UNU-FLORES 2014).
20 Marco Leidel, Steffen Niemann and Nina Hagemann, ‘Capacity Development as a Key Factor for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM): Improving Water Management in the Western Bug River Basin, Ukraine’ (2012) 65 Environmental Earth Sciences 1415.
22 UNU-FLORES (n 19).
23 Stephan Hülsmann and Reza Ardakanian, ‘Proceedings of the Regional Workshop on Establishment of a Network for Partnership of UNU-FLORES Based in Maputo, Mozambique’ (UNU-FLORES 2013).