This European Policy Debate was organised by Europa Nostra in partnership with the Fondation du Patrimoine and the Collège des Bernardins, with the support of the European Commission and the French Ministry of Culture. It was part of the European Heritage Summit, which celebrated cultural heritage projects from across Europe. 

Speakers included French Minister of Culture, Franck Riester, French Secretary of State for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin, and other high-level representatives of EU Institutions and French Government, as well as heritage experts from across Europe.

The Role of Cultural Heritage 

The sentiment was clear: in the face of rising Euroscepticism and intolerance across Europe, cultural heritage has a vital role to play in reviving the European project.  

Projects big and small demonstrate the emergence of an open, participatory society that allows people to exchange knowledge and celebrate the cultures of others without fearing for the conservations of one’s own.

IFLA was there to ensure that the dialogue reflected an inclusive definition of cultural heritage, and that the vital roles of libraries, archives and documentary heritage practitioners were acknowledged.  


Mobilising for Climate Action 

Beyond this, the Policy Debate featured a lively discussion on the responsibility for cultural heritage institutions to mobilise for climate action within their professional practice.

Acknowledging that climate change is the most critical threat to our cultural heritage, the message was clear: there is no time to wait for climate action. Speakers agreed that we have enough knowledge, case studies and experts; the time for research is over and the time for action has come.

We were proud to see IFLA named among the founding members of the Climate Heritage Network. We are committed to continue working alongside our partners in this network to enact real change. Advocating projects that help educate, create sustainable communities and encourage knowledge sharing is vital to showing policymakers the vital role of cultural institutions.

We urge all members of IFLA to explore how they can contribute to climate action in their professional practice.

The main outcome of the Policy Debate was a unified urging of European politicians to prioritise cultural heritage. We emphasise the importance of establishing legal framework at the international level to ensure the provision for cultural heritage preservation is upheld within Europe and beyond.

See the European Policy Debate event page for the full programme of speakers and topics discussed.