Chair on Heritage Futures

Climate Change and Coastal Erosion


Cornelius Holtorf was invited to Norwich in the UK to attend a British Academy-funded conference and expert workshop on Measuring Loss and Damage to Heritage from Climate Change for Effective Policy Reporting at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Holtorf argued in favour of replacing the emphasis on ‘loss and damage’ with a stronger appreciation of the potential use of heritage for enhancing people’s well-being in the face of climate change and its implications. But another focus of the 2-day discussions was how to measure the loss of culture and heritage so that it can be included in high-level climate discussions.

Food heritage is partly intangible and selling points are mobile – a good thing when the coast is eroding rapidly.

The days of discussion were followed by an excursion to the coast of Norfolk to witness coastal erosion and get engaged in informal discussions on the mobility of cultural heritage and peoples’ lives under changing conditions.


Cultural Heritage and Wellbeing



As part of the EUniWell Open Lecture Series, Prof. Cornelius Holtorf presented on 24 March 2022 on

“Cultural Heritage, Well-being and the Future”


Cultural heritage is often assumed to be of timeless value. But over recent decades, cultural heritage has been fundamentally reconceptualised in global policies. Whereas for about two centuries, cultural heritage was usually appreciated as a tangible token of collective histories, usually connected to ideas linked to Romantic Nationalism, now we see a different paradigm gradually taken over: cultural heritage is increasingly valued in relation to the intangible impacts and uses it has for specific communities. In this context, the concept of wellbeing has become central, and I will give a few concrete examples what that means for cultural heritage. Taking this development even further, cultural heritage in global contexts is today most commonly addressed within the framework of sustainable development. Yet political bodies such as the UN and national governments (even those embracing wellbeing) are still locked into older perceptions and often fail to embrace fully the ‘new’ cultural heritage. The UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures is contributing to changing this by focusing on how cultural heritage can best benefit future generations.

The lecture was recorded and will be available online soon.