Today, COP26 will focus on elevating the voice of young people and demonstrating the critical role of public empowerment and education in climate action.

CITiZAN project (run by Museum of London Archaeology – MOLA) has shown the potential of a citizen-science approach. In Mersea Island the project mapped 100 years of dramatic coastal change. Using photos, postcards and memories held within the local community MOLA learned more about not just where and when such changes took place, but why they happened. Combining 350 images, several hours of interviews and a series of historical maps, local volunteers created a striking story of Mersea Island’s transformation between 1920-2020.

Read the CITiZAN case study here.

Historical picture of a coastal area of Mersea Island compared to a recent picture of the same area, showing the coastal deterioration.

Focussing on apprenticeships, Sir Robert McAlpine, a leading UK construction and engineering company, facilitated employment for those starting heritage careers with an opportunity to hone skills through practical application, for example during the refurbishment of St Marylebone Parish Church. As part of their wider sustainability strategy, Sir Robert McAlpine has committed to achieving a level of Social Value Return on Investment (SROI) on all projects, demonstrating their commitment to making a difference to the local communities. In ensuring these traditional heritage skills are preserved, Sir Robert McAlpine is helping to ensure that existing building stock can be reused, restored and repurposed, rather than demolished. This in turn should have a positive impact on embodied carbon emissions, where research has shown that demolishing a historic building and replacing it with a new building can result in greater carbon emissions by 2050.

Read the St Marylebone Parish Church case study here.

Both the case studies feature in our report #HeritageResponds, which can be downloaded here.

Heritage is part of the solution.

Picture: Mersea Island, left image King’s Hard on West Mersea pre-1911 (Mersea Museum / Peter Godfrey Collection) and right image © 2021 CITiZAN.