The Caribbean’s heritage spans approximately 5000 years and represents one of humanities’ greatest context for human-environment relationship highlighted through forced encounter and migration. Cultural heritage is impacted by the changing climate, impacts climate change, and how we respond to this change. The societies created remain with us and have multiple narratives and vocalities for us to learn from. To learn, we must focus on the role of culture as an agent of social change and a crucial actor in building future resilience. Yet, the priority accorded to the inclusion of cultural heritage in broader climate change adaptation discussions or planning remains extremely limited. Emerging research indicates that a future of sustainability and resilience in relation to natural disasters and climate change depends on an awareness, understanding and utilization of traditional - local and indigenous – knowledge, particularly in how we prepare, mitigate, and adapt to natural hazards and the changing climate. Heritage guides sustainable adaptation through an understanding of how communities interacted with their environment in the past or long-term historical relationship with their environment, understanding present vulnerability to guide our adaptation strategies as islands described as being at the forefront of climate stressors. Likewise, contemporaneous communities are the agents to safeguard, monitor and enable resilience utilizing past ideation as the platform for change. Through specific examples from the Caribbean, this presentation discusses the important place for heritage in the development of strategies or its place as an agent for social change. This is highlighted through the value of studying the past through archaeology, an understanding of the use of traditional knowledge systems through time and the importance of developing and implementing citizen science initiatives to safeguard that past.
Moderated by Clinton White Regional Representative, USAID Eastern and Southern
Andrea Richards Caribbean Archaeologist, United Nations Caribbean
Kevin Farmer Deputy Director, Barbados Museum and Historical Society