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Sep 42019

Managing the challenge of protecting coastal heritage in the face of climate change – Blackpool, 4th - 6th September 2019

About Sea Change

The Sea Change conference is intended to bring together stakeholders from the private, public and academic sectors to share information and best practice on the current and future challenges of climate change in the context of coastal heritage. This ground-breaking conference has been heavily subsidised by World Monuments Fund Britain, American Express and Blackpool Council in partnership with ICOMOS UK.

Why Blackpool?

All three of Blackpool’s Piers have been included as one of 25 sites included on the 2018 World Monuments Watch in recognition of their vulnerability to climate change. The increased frequency and violence of storm surges in the Irish Sea have left the oldest (1863) in an increasingly fragile condition and contributed to structural problems with the other two, slightly later piers.

Sea Change will be opened by Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of Historic England and the conference themes and objectives will be outlined by Lisa Ackerman, Acting CEO of The World Monuments Fund. The Conference will look at how climate change will impact on physical infrastructure, economy, tourism and heritage management and share best practice case studies from across the globe.

The first keynote will focus on the role of ICOMOS in bringing together wider international thought on the subject of climate change and heritage and where the dialogue needs to go next. The conference is split into plenary and parallel sessions, the former dealing with the national and international context and responses to the climate change challenge and the latter examining specific pieces of research and projects with an emphasis on best practice. A significant section of the plenary presentations will cover the strategies of all of the UK’s statutory heritage bodies for managing change into the future. This will sit alongside presentations from the National Trust and English Heritage on the management of the UK’s biggest collection of third sector owned landscapes and heritage assets.


Plenary presentations will feature a history of Sea Defences, climate change mitigation on the Australian island of Tasmania and the emerging strategy of the Republic of Ireland for dealing with the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage.

Coastal economies will also be covered with a UK Keynote on the value of heritage tourism as well as a more global view of the impacts of climate change on international tourism. The programme is varied and with speakers from 13 countries gives a real insight into what’s happening on the international stage, but it also balances this with a series of practical and pragmatic presentations on the problems facing the UK and how the lead agencies and UK practitioners are framing actions for the future .

The nine parallel sessions delve more deeply into individual projects from across the globe . In these segments, we have 36 speakers balanced more or less equally between UK projects and initiatives and a range of international projects covering different angles of managing the impacts of global climate change. The focus here is on learning from academic research and practical projects. The organisers have tried to include only presentations that offer either transferable knowledge, skills and ideas or academic research programmes which offer new
ideas or directions for actions.

The social programme is also an important part of knowledge exchange. Two tours, a civic reception and a conference dinner, along with breaks in the programme offer opportunities for speakers and delegates to share contacts, information and the potential for future collaboration. In many ways, the opportunity for connections made at the conference will be a an important part of what World Monuments Fund and ICOMOS are looking to achieve.

Who should attend? Practitioners, representatives of special interest groups local and central government bodies, academics and students are all encouraged to join us for what promises to be a varied and informative programme.

To register your interest in attending the conference please contact