Tuesday 15 November 2022
  • The British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund (CPF), in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), announces new £14m grant for 17 projects, including those protecting heritage at risk from climate change.
  • The funds will be awarded across 2.5 years for projects protecting tangible and intangible heritage put at risk from climate change and conflict.
  • Additionally, the British Council and the University of Cambridge are providing new funding for two 12-month research fellowships on cultural relations and climate action.

The British Council has announced £14m in support for 17 new projects to protect heritage at risk, including those at risk from climate change. 

The announcement was made at a meeting of the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) at COP27 in Sharm-El-Sheik where participants will hold discussions under the theme Building Adaptation and Resilience in Sites of Heritage and Culture.

The projects will be funded over two and a half years through the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund (CPF), in a partnership between the British Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).  

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said: "From the conservation of thirteenth century manuscripts in Gaza, to preserving buildings in Cairo, it is vital we do our utmost to protect precious global heritage at risk due to climate change and conflict.

"I am delighted that DCMS is once again partnering with the British Council to grant a further £14 million to make sure our shared history endures for generations to come."

Scott McDonald, British Council Chief Executive, said: “As an organisation connecting young people around the world with the UK, the British Council is acutely aware that tacking climate change is one of their top priorities. 

“Because of this we have embedded the theme of responding to the threat of climate change across our work in arts, education and the English language around the world. Through the Cultural Protection Fund we can protect the threatened tangible and intangible heritage assets that define humankind, and use this work as an opportunity for mutual cooperation and learning.”

Among the projects receiving funding are:

  • Egyptian NGO Megawra will revive and protect two Islamic domes in the Historic City of Cairo, where increasing temperatures and excessive flooding are causing significant damage to buildings and infrastructure.
  • The International National Trusts Organisation are leading a project across six countries in MENA and East Africa that will rehabilitate important built heritage in each country, raise awareness about the impact of climate change and build capacity through knowledge exchange and partnership.
  • Twaweza, based in Kenya, will work with local communities to protect the Bajuni dialect of Swahili, through oral traditions and poetry which are at risk of loss due to the impact of climate change on traditional ways of life.
  • In Yemen, a project led by Cultural Emergency Response will rehabilitate the Governor’s HQ Complex (former British Residency) in Mukalla.

Stephanie Grant, Director Cultural Protection Fund at the British Council, commented: “This is the fund’s first large grants and multi-year announcements since 2018 and we received an unprecedented level of high-quality proposals.

“There’s a crucial need to protect global heritage against the threats of conflict and climate change. The selected projects represent a diverse range of approaches to protecting cultural heritage, but with a shared motivation to safeguard cultural heritage for future generations, tackle urgent global challenges and deliver positive societal and economic impact for local populations.”

In addition, building on research from its Climate Connection programme, the British Council with the University of Cambridge is funding two 12-month research fellowships on cultural relations and climate action, in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Bangladesh, and the American University of Cairo (AUC), Egypt. This will fund two early-career researchers from the global south to undertake research fellowships in the UK, based at the University of Cambridge and engaging closely with the British Council (both in the UK and in their home countries) throughout the project.

The British Council will also be running the Climate Action in Language Education free online course during COP27, aiming to engage 10,000 teachers in Egypt and thousands more around the world. More than 6,000 English language teachers globally have completed the course, with more than 100,000 English language teachers and learners benefitting from Climate Action in Language Education resources and courses throughout the past year. 

Earlier in the week, the UK Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, spoke with young climate activists about action to tackle climate change. The activists, working in different professions and from around the world, shared insight into their initiatives to tackle climate change and to engage other young people in climate action. Many were beneficiaries of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme which was set up in 2020 to tackle climate change through arts and culture, education and English. 

Notes to Editor

For images: http://bit.ly/3Tuq6d2

For media enquiries, please contact: Peter Hawkins on +44 (0)7557190861 or peter.hawkins@britishcouncil.org

Full list of latest awards

On the Tracks of Music - Folk Music in the Levant and Mesopotamia

This project will preserve and promote the disappearing traditional folk music and musical instruments of marginalised rural communities, in areas severely affected by conflict and climate change, across Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. The rarely documented folk music is specific to each community’s history and these traditions are thought to date back to 2500 BC. Musicians and instrument makers will participate in research and trainings to record and document 100 folk music pieces and historic processes, an ambitious awareness raising campaign will promote folk music of the Levant and Mesopotamia to local and global audiences.

Safeguarding Sudan's Living Heritage

This project will completely renovate the currently inaccessible Ethnographic Museum in central Khartoum, protecting it from the impact of climate change induced flooding, creating a new landmark domed roof and improving facilities for visitors. The project will also engage pastoral farmers in Darfur and Kordofan, enabling local communities to record accounts of their own living heritage for inclusion in the Ethnographic Museum.

Preserving the past, safeguarding the future: protecting cultural heritage at risk in Gaza through restoration and community engagement

This project will support the complete renovation of the Dar Al-Saada Dome, an important example of Mamluk masonry and architecture in Gaza, for its adaptive reuse as a multi-purpose community education and exhibition centre. The restored dome will also create a safe environment for manuscripts from the 13th century library of the Great Omari Mosque, which will undergo conservation as part of a specialised training programme for local conservators.

Athar Lina Heritage Climate Change: Conservation and Capacity Building

This project will oversee the protection of Yahya al-Shabih and Safiyy al-Din Jawhar, two medieval Islamic domes that are currently at risk due to climate-change related threats, while re-opening the sites to visitors and the local community. Situated in Historic Cairo, the conservation of these buildings will include a programme of on-site training, workshops and community outreach, where 200 professionals and technicians will learn techniques to protect heritage from climate change and urban greening climate-change action projects will provide opportunities for local women and children.

The Rehabilitation of the Governor’s HQ Complex (former British Residency) in Mukalla

The Governor’s HQ and former British Resident Advisor’s Complex represents a remarkable landmark in Mukalla, Yemen and this project will oversee the rehabilitation of the building and surrounding area and protection of the skills needed to do so. Approaches to the traditional methods of Hadrami earth construction in mud brick and stone construction will be safeguarded through documentation and training of local people.                     

Ark for Iraq (Phase 3)          

This project is an expansion of an ambitious initiative to protect and promote Iraq’s unique and endangered inland watercraft heritage, that is in rapid decline due to the ongoing impact of climate change. Working across locations in Southern Iraq, skilled artisans will work with local students to document and create new models of traditional boats and associated crafts with varied historic use along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. A series of workshops and field testing will support new research into climate mitigation measures and a diverse range of educational, sports, leisure and tourism activities will engage local communities and civil society groups.

 Withstanding change: heritage amongst climate uncertainty

Led by the International National Trusts Organisation, this project will restore six historic buildings in six countries across the Middle East, North Africa and East Africa, protecting them against the severe impacts of climate change, installing new exhibition spaces to engage local communities. The project will make connections between National Trust properties in the UK and the sites in each country enabling knowledge sharing around safeguarding the heritage in the face of climate-induced threats. The project will culminate in a conference to cement learning and strengthen international relationships.

EAMENA: Mitigating Conflict and Climate Change Risks Through Digital Heritage, Capacity Building, and Consolidation

This project will build upon the transformative work undertaken by the EAMENA project across the Middle East and North Africa, working with national NGOs and governments to embed critical skills in the management of built historic and archaeological assets in seven countries. It will engage with heritage professionals to assess the condition of nationally important sites that have been damaged as a result of climate change and will use these as case studies to inform future safeguarding work across the region. This will result in a more robust EAMENA database, capable of rapidly tracking changes to sites, enabling swift intervention to prevent further damage. A conference will bring government officials together to influence policy change at a regional level to ensure the better care of their globally important heritage assets.

Safeguarding the cultural heritage of the Bajuni dialect of Swahili, oral traditions and poetry

Working directly with local communities in the northern area of Kenya’s Swahili Coast, this project will record and document the Bajuni dialect spoken by more than 15,000 people in the region. The project will also work with teachers and government to embed education on indigenous languages in schools as well as conduct public performances of Bajuni poetry to engage community members more widely.

Middle East People’s Culture Conservation Collective

This project will empower young people across Syria, Iraq and Egypt to protect the heritage of marginalised religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities within their own communities. Where heritage is at risk because of conflict, training in digital archiving and data preservation will mean that oral histories, interviews, photos and videos capturing dance, language, festivals, feasts, music, pilgrimages and more are archived and preserved for future generations.

Insitu Preservation of 1.5-Million-Year-Old Footprints at Ileret, Northern Kenya: Evidence of Early Hominin Foot Morphology and Paleobiology

National Museums of Kenya will work with international partners to safeguard the globally important heritage of the 1.5-million-year-old hominin footprints found at Ileret, near Lake Turkana, an area known as the “cradle of humankind”. A physical canopy will protect the site from the effects of wind erosion driven by climate change and the local community will gain skills in heritage management to protect the site into the future and present the heritage at a new exhibition and community space.

Abbas Bazaar, Recovery Lab of Port Said

This project will protect the 19th century Khedive Abbas Helmy II Bazaar in Port Said, Egypt. The Bazaar is a unique hybrid of local architectural style and European modernism that has suffered extensive damage as a result of past conflicts on the Suez Canal. Its partial reconstruction will preserve original features, including the timber verandas, and the combined research, education and training initiatives will capture the collective memory of the Bazaar’s sociocultural importance and provide a model for future urban heritage interventions in the historic core of Port Said.

Safeguarding endangered oral traditions and minority heritages in Syria

This project will safeguard a wide range of Syrian intangible heritage, including oral traditions, folk stories and proverbs which are central to communities’ identities. The project will create podcasts and web-series around mythological storytelling to engage large numbers of people and provide heritage safeguarding training to empower local organisations to conduct research on minority heritages. Training for young people in the traditional craft of woodblock printing will be provided, boosting skills and employment opportunities in the region.

Heritage Challenging Fragmented Geography

This project will restore and enhance significant and endangered buildings and public spaces across four historic centres in the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories. These processes will be documented and supported by a heritage training programme for young architects and transformed spaces will be adapted for reuse as community centres to be led by cultural organisations. Collaborations at a regional and international level will support the creation of new records of traditional practices, provide new opportunities for knowledge exchange and showcase Palestinian cultural heritage to global audiences. 

Protection and promotion of Palestinian tangible and intangible cultural heritage at local, national and international levels

This project will undertake several preventive and emergency interventions at three important archaeological sites in the Gaza Strip, including the Roman Necropolis of Ard-al-Moharibeen discovered in January 2022 and the newly discovered Mosaic of Al Bureij, a mosaic pavement considered to date back to the 5th – 7th century. An oral history training programme will enable young people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to develop new skills and an exchange programme between Syrian and Gazan adolescents will support new regional collaboration.

Dessie Museum Renovation

This project will support the complete renovation of the Dessie Museum in Ethiopia’s Amhara Region, which was destroyed during conflict in 2021. The museum and facilities will be restored and upgraded, the community will be given heritage training sessions and the project will run initiatives to replace damaged and lost objects in the collection. The museum will reopen and continue as an important regional centre for culture and education.

Partnership for Heritage: Safeguarding Traditional Architecture and Intangible heritage of Tataouine (Tunisia) and the Nafusa mountains (Libya)    

This project will document the rich and varied heritage of the indigenous Imazighen communities living in the Nafusa Mountains (Libya) and in Tataouine, Tunisia. It will restore and protect two ancient, fortified granaries at risk due to climate change. Alongside the restoration of these unique buildings, a programme documenting and reviving local craft and skills associated with the community will support the development of female-led local businesses.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2020–21 we connected with 67 million people directly and with 745 million people overall. www.britishcouncil.org

About the Cultural Protection Fund

The Cultural Protection Fund is managed by the British Council – the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations – in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It aims to foster, safeguard and promote cultural heritage overseas. The Fund is a key part of the British Council’s work in Culture and Development overseas, which focuses on ambitious, artistic and creative initiatives that foster social cohesion, freedom of expression, inclusive institutions, dynamic communities, and improved social and economic well-being. For more information on the Cultural Protection Fund: https://www.britishcouncil.org/arts/culture-development/cultural-protection-fund