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Review: Young Members Roundtable on Climate Change

Updated: May 19, 2021

At Europa Nostra, we believe that young people are the future of heritage. Their input, expertise and dedication is critical to the continuing protection and celebration of Europe’s Cultural Heritage. Since 2018, Europa Nostra have offered free membership to all 18-30-year olds. This initiative removes the financial burden of membership and opens the heritage sector and civil society to all young people in Europe. Over one hundred young people from all across Europe have benefited from this and now joined the Europa Nostra family.

Over one third of the new young members are based in the UK. As such, the Europa Nostra Committee in the UK have been devising strategies to engage with and provide opportunities for these individuals. The first step in the newly established youth initiative was to discover what our young members in the UK wanted from their membership. Did they join to learn and connect with European Cultural Heritage, or to benefit from the opportunities provided through Europa Nostra? We asked all of our young members to give their thoughts via an online Forum held on Wednesday 26th August 2020. This informal meeting was incredibly valuable and insightful. The attendees expressed that they joined as a way to network with a broader audience than their studies or current careers provided. They wanted to connect with other cultural heritage professionals across Europe and the World, and be provided the opportunity to network in an informal and accessible setting. Through the Europa Nostra network, the young members also hoped to discover employment and volunteering opportunities within the sector.

Following this initial meeting, Europa Nostra UK Committee member Jamie Davies, set up a unique and informal Roundtable on the topic of Climate Change. The session was led by Justin Albert, Director for the National Trust of Wales, Executive Director and Trustee of the International National Trust Organization (INTO), advisor to the Minister for Economy and Transport, and proud member of Europa Nostra. The virtual meeting invited all young members in the UK to contribute to a discussion about how climate change has influenced heritage, and what the sector can do to mitigate the effects of the world’s biggest threat.

The event began with a passionate and inspiring introduction from Justin, that detailed what the National Trust in Wales were doing in the mitigation of Climate Change, informing the attendees that the climate disaster was the number one priority for the Trust. His enthralling statement that “we are one planet, one group; linked by human passion and spirit” reflected the unity that is core to Europa Nostra, and aligned with his later declaration that the youth are one of the most passionate and active groups of people who are making an impact on the global crisis.

We are one planet, one group; linked by human passion and spirit”- Justin Albert

After hearing from Justin, we encouraged the attendees to join us in a discussion about how Europa Nostra can contribute to the heritage sectors effort to combat climate change. Of particular concern to the members was how, in the face of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, Europa Nostra could continue to strategically pursue climate change initiatives, to which Justin responded:

“The challenges that Brexit and COVID present us can be overcome. But the climate emergency is absolute, immediate and existential.”

Justin’s statement reflects Europa Nostra’s continued mission to tackle climate change, which can be seen in their work with ICOMOS to develop the Heritage Green Deal paper.

Lauren asked how the National Trust of Wales, and individuals, can help to reconcile the loss of building fabric when installations are made to make a historic structure more sustainable. Justin informed the group that this was a debate often had within the sector, between Conservation and Sustainability, and the requirement for a good balance of both. They do not need to work against each other, and often work better simultaneously. Frederick followed this by stating that we must learn from the past and use old and new technologies to achieve our sustainability goals.

Jamie then asked what the young members felt Europa Nostra could do to support new initiatives to tackle climate change. Ross countered by proposing organisations like Europa Nostra, and funding bodies, should make positive green decisions, and reward schemes that significantly factored Sustainability into plans.

Another issue, raised by Karly, was the lack of training that both educational institutes and the general population had of sustainable approaches to retrofit. Rhian agreed that in their experience, the public often had little knowledge of how to suitably retrofit. All of the young members assembled shared the opinion that education, which should be provided or facilitated by heritage organisations, was an incredibly vital means of assisting individuals to make climate conscious decisions.

The closing statement of the roundtable was given by Justin, who expressed that the young members should not “let your youth stop you.” Justin encouraged all members to:

get [their] valid voice heard. Get out there and volunteer, join in and apply for those jobs and continue to challenge perspectives on all fronts. Be brave and go for it!

Europa Nostra UK committee members Grace and Jamie are incredibly grateful for Justin’s involvement in the event and thank all the young members for their valuable contribution to the discussion, which we hope will assist in future Europa Nostra climate initiatives.

Written by Grace Connelly

Our next Roundtable Discussion is on 7th December on Open-air Museums. Register now!

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