SHS President’s message at the occasion of World Heritage Day 2022

April 18 is this year’s WORLD HERITAGE DAY or – to use its original name – ‘the International Day for Monuments and Sites’, which was first declared by UNESCO in 1983.

The idea for hosting the day as a world event was recognised at the 22nd General Conference of UNESCO and since the 80s, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has set annual themes around which events are organised on or around World Heritage Day. The theme for 2022 is “Heritage and Climate”.

ICOMOS has encouraged partners to showcase activities that highlight how heritage can be a source of knowledge or inspiration to fight climate change. Suggested topics for discussions and events for this year include disaster risk (climate-induced, human-induced), vernacular heritage, heritage in conflict, heritage & democracy, indigenous heritage, sacred space, or sacred heritage.

In Sarawak, we have certainly observed incidents of heritage structures being damaged and destroyed by effects of climate (or nature, in general). One that comes to mind is the “Drinking Horse” rock formation at Tusan Beach, Miri which collapsed in Feb 2020.  Another was the old Satok Suspension bridge, which collapsed after a storm in Oct 2004. Every once in a while, we will hear of longhouses or klireings or other cultural artefacts falling victim to floods, soil and coastal  erosion, storms and fires. So this theme of ‘heritage and climate’ is certainly an important one, and due focus should be placed on planning and mitigating such risks.

Heritage and Climate was also one of the perspectives shared by Ar Laurence Loh in the Zoom talk (to which I shared the link on our SHS Community chat group).

In my upcoming talk under Badan Warisan Malaysia’s “Spotlight on Sarawak”, I will be talking about Sarawak’s Endangered Heritage, which includes disaster risks (climate-induced & human-induced). This will be on 7th July.

Do share your views on this topic as well as other related heritage conservation and safeguarding areas.

James Yong
President, SHS

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