Blackpool 4th-6th September 2019 Coastal Heritage and Climate Change

World Monuments Fund Britain and its partners ICOMOS UK, Blackpool Council and the University of Bournemouth are jointly hosting a conference on coastal heritage and climate change which will take place in Blackpool, UK, from the 4th to the 6th September 2019. The conference is part of the 2018/19 World Monuments Watch, a biennial program that uses cultural heritage conservation to empower communities. A copy of the full programme can be obtained here

So What is Sea Change

The ground breaking 2019 Sea Change conference is aimed at policy makers, heritage bodies, practitioners and academics and features a range of speakers from diverse disciplines and professional backgrounds. The conference is being organised on behalf of the World Monuments Fund by a consortium including World Monuments Fund Britain ICOMOS UK, Bournemouth University, and Blackpool Council. It has been heavily subsidised by World Monuments Fund Britain, American Express and Blackpool Council.

The conference will facilitate the sharing of information and best practice on the challenges of climate change in the context of coastal heritage. 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 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. To apply to register, complete this form

Why now?

There is a significant body of research which considers the impacts of climate change on coastal geomorphology and marine environments. However, there is not enough research on the impact of climate change, specifically sea-level rise, increased intensity of extreme weather events, and changes in humidity levels, on cultural heritage assets.

Despite a growing awareness of the wider impacts of climate change beyond rising sea levels and coastal erosion, there remains a disturbing lack of engagement regarding the impacts of climate change on heritage assets by governments, practitioners, and academics.

This has translated in some cases into confusion over the best way to deal with the challenges and how agencies should work together to secure the future of vulnerable coastal heritage. As the effects of climate change speed up, exceeding all previous predictions, greater pressure needs to be applied to all government agencies to consider cultural heritage as part of national policy and strategic thinking on Climate Change. 

Why Blackpool?

With its collection of world class seaside heritage including three Victorian pleasure piers, the unique Blackpool Tower and the vast, elaborate Winter Gardens complex, Blackpool is arguably one of the most important seaside resorts in Britain. Reporting a total of 18 million visitors in 2018, the town is currently the site of a number of major regeneration projects totalling new investment of circa £100m. 

Whilst Blackpool’s historic buildings play a key role in shaping and adding value to this regeneration, assets like the piers are difficult to integrate into such programmes because they are often so vulnerable to extreme weather. Increased frequency and violence of winter storm surge events are having significant impacts on all three of Blackpool’s historic piers, and in recognition of this, they were nominated to the 2018/19 World Monuments Watch.  

What's on Offer?

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 World Monuments Fund.  The programme will be split into plenary and parallel sessions, the former dealing with the national and international context to the challenges and the latter examining specific pieces of research and projects with an emphasis on best practice in a number of key fields.  A copy of the full programme can be obtained here.

Keynote presentations will open with a 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. Other keynote and 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 UK Keynotes on the value of heritage tourism as well as a more global view of the impacts of climate change on international tourism.

A significant section of the plenary presentations will cover the strategies of all of the UK’s statutory heritage bodies for managing the effects of climate 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.

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 transferable knowledge, skills and ideas or academic research programmes which offer new ideas or directions for action.  This allows delegates to take away useful information that can be applied anywhere.

Delegates will gain:

  • A better understanding of how climate change will affect coastlines physically in the short, medium and long terms
  • A greater knowledge of the impacts of climate change on costal heritage and economies in the UK and overseas
  • A wider awareness of the academic research which is looking to understand those changes and their impacts now and in the future
  • An understanding of how current and future impacts are being tackled through projects in the UK and overseas
  • Contacts and networking opportunities with leading figures (in the UK and overseas) in climate change research, projects and policy making.    

Who'll be There?

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.

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 an important part of what the World Monuments Fund and ICOMOS are looking to achieve.


World Monuments Fund Britain and their partners ICOMOS UK and Blackpool Council hope to welcome you to Blackpool this September!

More information can be found on the The World Monuments Fund website

To express interest in submitting an abstract please contact Prof. John Darlington

To register your interest in attending the conference please contact or complete register of interest form below.

For any other queries please contact


Register of Interest Application Form

Bursary Application Form

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