ATHENS, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Prominent members of the international academic community and policy makers convened in Athens on Friday for a conference on the impact of climate change on cultural heritage, calling for urgent action to face the challenge before it is too late.
The Athens two-day forum which is an initiative of the Greek government in coordination with the UN and UNESCO, aims to increase global awareness towards action, while the conclusions reached is hoped to be used as a springboard for a declaration during the UN Summit for Climate Change in New York this September, organizers said.
In a message to the conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed the new platform of dialogue as "an important contribution" to the broader talks.
In his message, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos also underlined that the international community should act immediately to address climate change, before the damage on the integrity of world monuments of outstanding value becomes irreversible.
"Representing one of the most ancient civilizations, our country has made efforts to raise on an international level this need to protect humankind's cultural heritage," Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Katrougalos said explaining Greece's strong interest in the dialogue, during a speech at the meeting.
"We should decide to change our life stance altogether and for certainly pressure organizations, governments and industrialists to choose the side of progress, prospect and prosperity," Alternate Minister of Environment and Energy Sokratis Famelos added.
In a written address, tenor Placido Domingo with his capacity as President of Europa Nostra, a federation of NGOs active in the protection of Europe's cultural heritage, also urged participants to redouble efforts in research and formulate more proposals to overcome the threats climate change poses to global cultural heritage.
During the two-day conference, experts from across the world will exchange views and present scientific evidence and proposals on how to record the impact of climate change and map key policies, measures and best practices for the protection of the cultural heritage against the impacts of climate change.
Professor Christos Zerefos, Head of the Research Center for Atmospheric Physics and Climatology at the Academy of Athens, opened the dialogue on Friday, presenting to the audience the latest scientific data showing how extreme weather events and shifts in climate are taking a toll on ancient monuments and sites worldwide.
"The synergy of events makes the monuments of cultural heritage even more vulnerable," the professor said, suggesting comprehensive strategies to tackle the challenges.