An ancient building in Sudan


This comprehensive and systematic literature and evidence review examines the impacts of climate change on tangible and intangible cultural heritage at international, regional, national, and local levels. 

Contribution to knowledge 

Drawing on global sources in a range of languages, the study aims to reduce bias in the selection of evidence on this topic, whilst summarising and appraising the state and quality of the extant knowledge. It is the first ever study to explore both intangible and tangible cultural heritage in this way. Its hazard-impact diagrams and trends analysis will support the heritage protection and climate action work of the British Council and our stakeholders over the years ahead.  

Key insights 

  • Research is still focused predominantly on ‘sites’ and ‘built heritage’ but there is growing interest in cultural resilience, oral traditions and intangible cultural heritage. 

  • Research trends have foregrounded intersectional approaches and theories of gender, domination or decolonialisation, with studies looking increasingly towards indigenous and traditional knowledge. 

  • Community perspectives are increasingly valued within cultural practice to strengthen resilience and address climate change.  

  • It is increasingly recognised that the physical drivers of climate change do not operate in isolation, but as a complex system. 

  • Further research is needed into the wider context in which climate change hazards arise and how these contextual (indirect) hazards compound direct physical hazards. 

  • Emerging research on the socio-economic impacts of climate change includes interest in the economic appraisal of the social and resilience value of cultural heritage.  

  • There is a need for more coherent methodologies for obtaining data about the decay and loss of cultural heritage, and to better enable long-term monitoring of cultural heritage to document changes. 

  • Fragmentation of the sector and lack of coordination and cross-sector cooperation are highlighted as major obstacles that impede protection. 

Contribution to climate action 

Through the Cultural Protection Fund the British Council supports countries and organisations in the conservation, safeguarding and management of their cultural heritage. This study will help to optimise the impacts of our work and support improved methodologies and knowledge exchange. 


The Cultural Protection Fund is managed by the British Council in partnership with the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We engage closely in knowledge exchange in this space with other cultural heritage funders, including the Grantmakers for Cultural Heritage Protection funders network and the Heritage Climate Change Network 

Find out more

Find out more and download the report


Ian Thomas, Head of Arts Research: