Every two years the world’s preservation and heritage conservation community comes together for the International Conference of National Trusts, a wonderful gathering of colleagues and friends working together across the globe to protect, enhance and responsibly enjoy our planet’s fragile heritage. This year we’ve gathered in Dublin, Ireland, where our host An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, has welcomed us with a program of presentations and tours of their projects (and even some strong Irish whiskey!).
The conference theme is Heritage of the World in Trust: Conservation in a Changing Climate, and over the next few days I’ll be posting reports on how the world’s heritage community is coming together as never before to speak out forcefully on the impact of climate change on the unique places that speak to our common heritage. National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe is joining Ireland’s Minister for the Environment John Gormley and the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson along with his counterparts at the world’s largest National Trusts in this morning’s opening plenary. Dick will be speaking on our work to demonstrate preservation’s role in combating climate change — an important and somewhat new perspective in the heritage community’s long battle to protect our natural and built environments.
Changing climate also refers to the rapidly changing world we live in. I’ll be speaking later in the week about our adaptation to changing communication tools in the battle to save historic places. We’ll hear from Indonesia, Australia, and many other countries and continents on the work to make preservation and conservation relevant in the 21st century.
The International Conference of National Trusts has a 30-year history, but since we hosted this gathering in Washington in 2005, the world’s National Trusts have come together through the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) to work year-round on common issues. I’ve been in Dublin since Friday as a member of INTO’s executive committee. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll also highlight some of the work INTO has supported. One thing you find out quickly when we gather together for these international conferences: no one model of National Trust (and there are many) has a monopoly on good ideas and effective work. So more to come in the days ahead, and I’ll even try and find time to throw in the occasional nugget (such as, who knew that Queen’s lead guitarist Brian May was both an astrophysicist and a protector of English country village history!).
David J. Brown is the Executive Vice President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
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