Plans for Uncertain Futures: Heritage and Climate Imaginaries in Coastal Climate Adaptation

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This article addresses uses of heritage in urban planning projects that seek to adapt coastal landscapes to increasing risks of flooding, storm surges, and sea level rise. We interrelate concepts from recent research on the climate-heritage-nexus with contemporary coastal climate adaptation projects to reveal some of the complex realities and nuances that are apparent on the ground, and to raise heritage concerns for future practice. Questioning the role that heritage plays in specific climate adaptation projects from Denmark and the Netherlands, two low-lying countries with long coastlines facing climate risks, we show the wide range of roles that heritage can play in climate adaptation planning and we propose a framework to conceptualise heritage in this context. The study shows the important role that climate imaginaries (i.e., depictions, affect, and ways of apprehending the climate past) play in climate adaptation projects, and reveals national and local differences. Finally, we discuss the knowledge gained from climate adaption projects in terms of developing dynamic responses to climate change, of working with rather than against landscape processes, and the potential role of heritage in creating climate-resilient living environments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)358–375
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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