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Climate Change Resilience: an Interview with Dr Paul Lankester at English Heritage

With the latest contribution to the Historic Environment Forum’s Sector Resilience Interviews series focussed on Climate Change, we hear from Dr Paul Lankester, Climate Resilience Lead at English Heritage.
Read on to find out more.
Paul, what is involved with your role at English Heritage?

I began working in my current role as climate resilience lead at English Heritage in February 2022, having previously worked for the charity as a conservation scientist. Before that I studied for a PhD which looked at the impact of climate change on historic interiors. With my current work I am coming back to researching the impact of climate change on historic buildings, but now considering how this will impact upon all aspects of what English Heritage currently does, and what we will need to do, to adapt and ensure we can be resilient to climate change – so that we can continue to preserve the remarkable historic sites we look after for future generations. English Heritage wants to share its insights and experiences of caring for the National Heritage Collection to help provide and shape guidance that will add to our understanding within the heritage sector about how we can tackle climate-related challenges.

What does the climate resilience remit at English Heritage seek to achieve?

The project I am currently working on, which has been supported with funding from the Benefact Group, is helping us to build a better picture and understanding of how climate change will affect the historic buildings and landscapes that English Heritage cares for and the way in which the charity looks after these remarkable places. This will take into account five key areas of our work – the built assets in our care, the historic collections and items that we look after, the gardens and landscapes within our guardianship and how future climate change could impact upon the work of our staff and operations and the experience of visitors.

Gathering relevant data and completing a climate change risk assessment at individual sites will help us better understand how different climate hazards will change over time and how they could impact each site in our care in different ways. Grounding this knowledge by considering the current risk at different sites will help us to identify what may be vulnerable and where action may be needed to address this, through this second part of the project where we will be carrying out site-specific climate change risk assessments. These will be developed with local site stakeholders to understand the specific issues at each site and how climate change may impact upon these different factors, so that we can work to make any necessary adaptations, with the aim of making the site more climate resilient. This work at individual sites will continue, whilst we work to take learnings from this and to build a toolkit to help embed climate resilience within the organisation.

How does this contribute to climate resilience in the heritage sector?

Part of the toolkit we will be working to develop this year will provide practical guidance to support colleagues in making climate-informed decisions related to the adaptation of historic sites and we will make this available across the heritage sector. We will also develop an interactive 3D model as part of the toolkit to visualise this work.

We are also working collaboratively across the sector to carry out research in areas where there are gaps in knowledge, to better understand how climate change will impact heritage, and therefore how we can successfully adapt. I think that it is critical that we all pull together in the same direction, ensuring we do not duplicate efforts, to ensure the resource we collectively have available within the sector is used in the most effective way to tackle the climate change challenge that we all face.

How will you know this work has been successful?

Success for me personally is developing a climate change risk assessment tool which will support English Heritage to complete site specific risk assessments and to identify any areas of particular vulnerability, whilst enabling us to share this knowledge across English Heritage and with the wider sector and to help inform climate change adaptation measures that can then be implemented across the country. Climate resilience is a key strand of English Heritage’s Climate Action Plan, with the ambition for 50% of the hundreds of historic sites we care for to have undergone a climate change risk assessment by 2025.

How can colleagues find out more?

I am intending to host a webinar later in the spring to share learnings and insights from our climate adaptation work, which I hope will be helpful to sector colleagues facing similar challenges. Do get in touch with me at paul.lankester@english-heritage.org.uk if this would be of interest to you and I can share details with you in due course. Further information about the work English Heritage is undertaking to respond to climate change is available on our website at www.english-heritage.org.uk/about-us/our-priorities/sustainability/

Overall, what do you think is most crucial for ensuring a resilient heritage sector?

I think that collaborative working with a holistic approach is crucial to embedding climate adaptation into decision making in the heritage sector.

This Sector Resilience interview was shared by Paul as part of our Heritage Sector Resilience Plan activities. 

If you’d like to contribute an interview as part of the series, follow the link below to find out more:

Sector Resilience Interviews – Historic Environment Forum

Climate Change Resilience: an Interview with Dan Miles & Liz Power – Sector Carbon Literacy

As part of the Climate Change theme of our Sector Resilience Interviews series, we spoke with Dan Miles, Sector to Net Zero project lead at Historic England, and Liz Power, Director for Historic Buildings & Places, all about carbon literacy training opportunities for the sector. 
Read on to find out more.
Liz, Dan, tell us a bit about yourselves and your roles in the heritage sector.

Liz: I am the Director of Historic Buildings & Places, one of the national amenity societies, so we support the heritage sector with listed building advice, as well as running programs for our members, and those interested in heritage. I have been involved with Carbon Literacy since the launch of the toolkit for Museums at the start of 2022, and I have been training people to become Carbon Literate since then.

Dan: I am the Sector to Net Zero project lead at Historic England and am responsible for various strands of work supporting heritage organisations on their journey to Net Zero.

What can you tell us about Carbon Literacy? Why is it important for the heritage sector’s resilience?

Both: The Carbon Literacy course for Heritage is an introduction from people working in all areas of Heritage into the causes, consequences and actions we can take as organisations in the climate emergency. The course looks at the role heritage can plan, the co-benefits of taking action and what a low carbon heritage organisation might look like. Each one day course ends with people making pledges setting out actions they can put into place in their own workplace to reduce their carbon emissions.

The course is a great foundational step to raise awareness and set organisations off to identify what they need to reduce emissions and help them identify their next steps. 

How did you develop the Carbon Literacy training course for the heritage sector?

Liz: I got involved after talking to the Carbon Literacy Trust about using the Museum toolkit to train my team at Historic Buildings & Places. They suggested talking to Dan about the work he was doing about developing the course for Heritage, and I was delighted to be able to help develop the course so it was more suited for Heritage organisations.

The most fun aspect of developing the course was researching all the case studies to add in. There are so many good examples of the work organisations are doing to tackle climate change and the path to net zero, from big to small, and being able to read about them, and add them for others to share was a great opportunity.

Dan: Historic England was looking to develop and roll out a carbon literacy course to support heritage sector organisations and internally for Historic England staff.  I then got agreement from the museum Roots and Branches project and the Carbon Literacy Trust to develop a new heritage course based on the successful museums course and toolkit.. This course has been developed with a more heritage flavour, in particular including a number of heritage case studies.  As part of our call for support to the HEF Sustainability & Climate Change Task Group, Liz Power got in touch offering her support in developing the course…. and the rest is history!

What does success look like?  Do you have plans to measure this?

Dan:  Success is two fold:

1) the successful take up of training places by heritage organisations on carbon literacy

2) the successful sharing of and use of the course across the sector to help train the staff of individual organisations.

This will be measured in numbers of organisations trained, but also in evaluating the pledges that each participant of the training has to do if they want to get their carbon literacy certificate. These pledges will show what trainees will do to implement changes in their lives and organisations which can be analysed and evaluated.

How can colleagues find out more, or get involved?

5 sector support organisations are responsible for administering and rolling out approx 55 courses over 2024; there will be more opportunities for other support bodies to roll out carbon literacy courses in the future. 

Information on the courses and how to enrol will be published on the Historic England website in the New Year.

Overall, what do you think is most crucial for ensuring a resilient heritage sector?

Liz: I think that as a sector we need knowledge: most people want to make changes for the usability of the planet, and their organisations, but they don’t know where to start. Hopefully Carbon Literacy will be one way of starting to building that resilience

Dan: Agree with Liz – basic carbon literacy skills and knowledge are essential building blocks for heritage organisations to begin to understand the impacts and what they can do reduce their own emissions. These climate action building blocks will begin to create a more resilient historic environment.  

This Sector Resilience interview was shared by Dan and Liz as part of our Heritage Sector Resilience Plan activities. 

If you’d like to contribute an interview as part of the series, follow the link below to find out more:

Sector Resilience Interviews – Historic Environment Forum

Climate Change Resilience: an Interview with Fran Benetti, HEF Green Skills in Heritage Task Group Manager

For the first interview under our Climate Change theme, we’re pleased to share news from our Task Group Manager Fran Benetti, all about our new Green Skills in Heritage Task Group!
Read on to find out more.
Fran, what can you tell us about the Historic Environment Forum’s Task Group approach?

The Historic Environment Forum (HEF) is a collaborative initiative that brings together senior members of staff from a range of heritage organisations with a national remit to discuss strategic topics. Rather than just being a ‘talking shop’ HEF wants to facilitate real collaborative high-level actions in the sector. This is done through a range of working groups, and I was appointed in September 2023 to manage one of the Task Groups. The HEF Task Groups work on specific tasks, agreed by the members of the Forum, in a (relatively!) short timeframe (6-12 months).

What is the HEF Green Skills in Heritage Task Group? Where did it originate from and what does it aim to achieve?

One of the most pressing challenges in our sector (…in our world, actually!) is climate change. Everyone has to play their part in mitigating the risks related to climate change. Heritage can play a key role in reducing our impact, nurturing sustainable solutions, and encouraging people to take action. A lot of organisations have already taken action, as highlighted in our report Heritage Responds and associated StoryMap. HEF has also supported other organisations on their path to net zero through a collection of useful resources.

What next then? HEF acknowledged that having the right skills in place is critical to deliver environmental sustainability and this is supported by an increasing amount of evidence, also in the heritage sector. For example:

 

This is why HEF decided to set up a Task Group related to Green Skills in Heritage and I am delighted to work with a range of colleagues who bring very different perspectives around the table.

HEF Green Skills in Heritage Task Group: our tasks - understand the breadth of skills need, coordinate with other working groups, explore how to stimulate demand. 14 members representing different parts of the sector
What contribution do you think the HEF Green Skills in Heritage Task Group is making towards heritage sector resilience?

The group directly addresses one of the actions identified in the Heritage Sector Resilience Plan ‘Connect heritage jobs / careers to the green jobs market’. It is chaired by Liz Power (Director of Historic Buildings & Places) and has just started its activity.

The tasks that we aim to address are:

  • Understand the breadth of green skills needed in the heritage sector to progress the work towards environmental sustainability, and ensure that the sector is able to harness the potential of funding streams related to environmental sustainability for the benefit of the historic environment.
  • Coordinate with other working groups to gather evidence on the green skills needed in the heritage sector and assess gaps.
  • Explore how to stimulate demand of these specific skills.

 

In the long term, the fulfilment of these tasks will hopefully lead to new career opportunities in the sector, and to an improvement of the contribution that heritage can make to a future greener UK.

What does success look like?  Do you have plans to measure this?

A challenge related to the short-term nature of the Task Group is the difficulty to measure change in the longer term. Strategic changes don’t happen in a day, and hopefully our work will lead to further actions. We have just started to develop our action plan – but in planning it, we will adopt an evaluation mindset and set out proposed measurements to assess the success (or otherwise) of each output and short-term outcome. Alongside this, the HEF Resilience Task Group Manager is starting to think how to measure progress to a more resilient sector in the longer term.

How can colleagues find out more, or get involved?

We’ll publish news on progress and outputs of our work on the HEF website and share news on our social media accounts (LinkedIn & X) – follow us and stay tuned!

Overall, what do you think is most crucial for ensuring a resilient heritage sector?

Resilience is a complex concept, as it includes many facets. In my opinion no organisation can single-handedly work on resilience – collaboration is key to developing an ‘ecology’ to nurture resilience through a deeper understanding of the challenges that we face, discussing and trialling solutions and learning from each other.

This Sector Resilience interview was shared by Fran Benetti as part of our Heritage Sector Resilience Plan activities. 

If you’d like to contribute an interview as part of the series, follow the link below to find out more:

Sector Resilience Interviews – Historic Environment Forum

HEF Highlights October – December 2023

Quarter 3 2023/24 was a busy governance period for the Historic Environment Forum. Our Chair, Dr Adrian Olivier, was re-appointed for a second term of leadership, and we made improvements and updates to our Terms of Reference to reflect how the Forum’s work has grown. 

Our Task Groups continued to work collaboratively with partners, with our Resilience Task Group taking steps to review and evaluate activity underway via the Heritage Sector Resilience Plan (HSRP). Our second Task Group scoped and kick-started a new focus on Green Skills in Heritage, with more updates to follow. 

The main assembly of HEF gathered twice during Quarter 3,  with both meetings in this case providing opportunities for dialogue with DCMS on key policy issues for the sector, and to work closely with Historic England colleagues on Heritage Counts. Alongside this, the Heritage Skills Demand Group and the Historic Environment Protection Reform Group, both continued to convene and make progress against their respective workplans.

We launched our new Heritage Sector Resilience Interview series to spotlight and showcase collaborative action already underway across the historic environment sector that supports or relates to the HSRP.  Ten interviews covering the theme of ‘Skills’ are now available to read as a collection, and we look forward to highlighting further initiatives on the theme of ‘Climate Change’ as we progress through the early months of 2024.

The HEF Team. 

Skills Resilience: an Interview with Cara Jones, Sector Skills Manager at the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

As part of the Skills theme of our Sector Resilience Interview series, we heard Cara Jones, Sector Skills Manager at the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA). Cara shares how taking a joined-up approach and sharing good practice across UK nations is a key part of CIfA’s skills strategy for archaeology.
Read on to find out more.
Cara, tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the heritage sector.

I am the Sector Skills Manager at the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) which is the leading professional body representing archaeologists working in the UK and overseas. We promote high professional standards and strong ethics in archaeological practice, to maximise the benefits that archaeologists bring to society. We are the authoritative and effective voice for archaeologists, bringing recognition and respect to our profession.

We believe that to maximise the value of archaeology, it needs to be carried out with professionalism, which in turn can help attract diverse talent and support career development. Our strategic skills work helps support the active delivery of these beliefs.

What can you tell us about CIfA’s strategic skills work? What does it aim to achieve?

The Sector Skills Manager post is a relatively new role but brings together our strategic skills work from across the UK – from leading on Aim 5 (Skills and Innovation) of Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy, to being a member of the steering group for the Historic Environment Skills Forum.

It is allowing CIfA to take a more strategic approach to skill development work and share great practice across the UK. This includes the development of apprenticeships and new qualifications – both designed to support new entry routes into the profession and help address skill gaps.

What contribution will this work make towards the resilience of the heritage sector?

Skill development is a devolved matter; however, archaeologists work across borders, so our skill development work should too. CIfA’s UK wide remit allows different work strands from across the Home Nations to inform and inspire actions and initiatives in all corners of the UK. For example, data collection (on skills needs) in Scotland (as part of Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy) is helping inform data collection practice in Northern Ireland (associated with the Archaeology 2030 archaeology strategy). Lessons learned during the (apprenticeship) Trailblazer process in England is helping inform apprenticeship development in Scotland. The experience we have developed supporting the delivery of the Skills Investment Plan in Scotland, is now being applied to the Historic Environment Skills Forum. I could go on!

Ultimately, this joined up approach will help save time, resource, capitalise on shared expertise and enable standardised development processes to take place in all areas of the UK.

What does success look like?  Do you have plans to measure this?

On a personal level, I hope that in 10 to 15 years’ time, there will be multiple entry routes into careers in archaeology, enabling access for anyone who wants to join the profession.

The lack of diversity within the profession is still an acute issue – developing different entry routes can support more diverse candidates into archaeology. There is obviously a lot of work to do to keep them in archaeology – professional development initiatives have a large role to play there too. All of this takes time though, there is no overnight quick fix and any evaluative measures needs to take that into account. As the professional institute for archaeologists, CIfA is able to take that long-term view and monitor (hopefully positive!) change.

How can colleagues find out more, or get involved?

One easy step is to join the Historic Environment Skills Forum Knowledge Hub – we have just started with a series of webinars focused on skills. We would love to see you all there!

Overall, what do you think is most crucial for ensuring a resilient heritage sector?

Sub-sector collaboration! I passionately believe that skill development initiatives can be one element of solving some of the big issues in archaeology, however that requires partnership working and collaboration from all of us!

This Sector Resilience interview was shared by Cara Jones as part of our Heritage Sector Resilience Plan activities. 

If you’d like to contribute an interview as part of the series, follow the link below to find out more:

Sector Resilience Interviews – Historic Environment Forum

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