Conceived of and implemented by ICCROM’s flagship programme, First Aid and Resilience for Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis (FAR), with the support of the Swedish Postcode Foundation, the Net Zero project brought together teams from five innovation sites – Tuti Island in Sudan, Kasese in Uganda, Rosetta in Egypt, Ubatuba in Brazil and Jodhpur in India – and their sherpas (mentors) at ICCROM headquarters for a three-week in-person workshop.
Aiming to develop action plans for field-testing heritage-based climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions, the five teams worked with more than 20 transdisciplinary area specialists representing diverse fields of disaster risk reduction, cultural heritage, sustainable development, food security, architecture, agriculture, environmental economics, oral history, project management, peacebuilding, Indigenous knowledge, ecology and water management.
The teams participated in discussions and lectures and engaged in participatory and experiential learning activities to understand how the Indigenous and traditional knowledge held by local communities can be used to promote climate action, reduce disaster risk and build lasting peace.
Thanks to these activities, plus a field trip to Cinque Terre and various case studies, tools, techniques and methods shared during the past weeks, the participants were able to refine their action plans and present them to an external expert jury on 3 May 2023.
The multidisciplinary experts consisted of Ms Erminia Sciacchitano, Advisor for Multilateral Relations for the Minister’s Cabinet, Ministry of Culture, Italy; Ms Josefine Lindström, Project Manager, Swedish Postcode Foundation; Mr Sanjaya Bhatia, Head of Office Incheon, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Office for Northeast Asia (ONEA) & Global Education and Training Institute (GETI); Ms Sarah Stannage, Executive Director, International Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works – IIC; and Mr Valéry Freland, Executive Director, ALIPH Foundation.
The five teams received structured questions and feedback from the jury on how to improve their project plans, as well as suggestions for finding further funding to supplement the approved seed grants. The workshop closed with a reception and certificate ceremony where ICCROM Staff and representatives from the Embassies of Egypt and Sudan and the US Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome gathered to congratulate the teams and wish them success for the next phase.
ICCROM Director General Webber Ndoro and Josefine Lindström from the Swedish Postcode Foundation initiated the ceremony with a welcome message. They underlined the importance of Net Zero: Heritage for Climate Action, a pioneering capacity development initiative that will implement five community-centred transformational projects while addressing the complex relationship between heritage protection, climate change, peacebuilding and disaster risk reduction. Mr Valery Freland, an honoured guest at the ceremony, congratulated the teams for designing innovative climate action and disaster risk reduction projects that will use Indigenous and traditional knowledge to lay the foundations for a sustainable future.
Proposed action plans
Brazil: The Brazil team aims to promote the knowledge held by the Quilombola community in Ubatuba by documenting and mapping traditional medicinal plant species, as well as creating a herbarium. Through their actions, they will set up an emergency response and early warning system for the community, including mapping evacuation routes and conducting a simulation exercise that would help in case of floods and landslides.
Egypt: The Egypt team plans on organizing workshops in Rosetta where they will involve communities – especially youth and women – and promote the replanting of Sycamore trees to decrease land salinity in Rosetta while tackling the lack of early warning systems in the area by working with fishermen of Egyptian port cities to develop an early warning system for storms and floods. They will use indigenous knowledge and traditional symbols.
Uganda: The Uganda team is planning on re-energizing traditional indigenous knowledge systems and practices from the Bakonzo community in Kasese, such as weather predictions and rituals, by organizing capacity-building workshops. They will work to mitigate the increasing flood risk by planting indigenous trees.
Sudan: We applaud the efforts and the steadfast commitment of the Sudan team, who have adapted their project to their current context, and despite the ongoing conflict, will implement an awareness-raising and capacity development project for reviving their traditional early warning system – Taya – in Tuti Island, Sudan. With the support of the ALIPH Foundation, we are ensuring the participants’ safety and facilitating project implementation.
India: The India team, in consultation and collaboration with diverse stakeholders and community representatives, will use traditional knowledge systems and practices, such as the painting of houses with indigo blue and heritage water management structures, to develop an integrated culture-based heat action plan for the city.
Coming Up Next
Over the next six months, as part of the project’s third phase, all teams will implement their peer-reviewed and integrated heritage-based climate action strategies at their innovation sites. Thanks to the Swedish Postcode Foundation, their projects will be supported by seed grants. The sherpas (mentors) from each team will continuously help monitor the project’s progress, and a bi-monthly meeting will be set up with ICCROM.
At the end of this year, we will organize an international symposium to disseminate the action plans’ results among policymakers, governmental stakeholders, UN agencies and all relevant communities impacted. Our 55 partners from the Climate.Culture.Peace Conference – a knowledge-building initiative and the seed that enabled the Net Zero project – will also be involved in disseminating the results among their networks. A publication collecting success stories and lessons learned on the ground during the Net Zero project will follow.