Intangible Cultural Heritage: A Benefit to Climate-Displaced and Host Communities

Gül Aktürk, Martha Lerski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change is borderless, and its impacts are not shared equally by all communities. It causes an imbalance between people by creating a more desirable living environment for some societies while erasing settlements and shelters of some others. Due to floods, sea level rise, destructive storms, drought, and slow-onset factors such as salinization of water and soil, people lose their lands, homes, and natural resources. Catastrophic events force people to move voluntarily or involuntarily. The relocation of communities is a debatable climate adaptation measure which requires utmost care with human rights, ethics, and psychological well-being of individuals upon the issues of discrimination, conflict, and security. As the number of climate-displaced populations grows, the generations-deep connection to their rituals, customs, and ancestral ties with the land, cultural practices, and intangible cultural heritage become endangered. However, intangible heritage is often overlooked in the context of climate displacement. This paper presents reflections based on observations regarding the intangible heritage of voluntarily displaced communities. It begins by examining intangible heritage under the threat of climate displacement, with place-based examples. It then reveals intangible heritage as a catalyst to building resilient communities by advocating for the cultural values of indigenous and all people in climate action planning. It concludes the discussion by presenting the implications of climate displacement in existing intangible heritage initiatives. This article seeks to contribute to the emerging policies of preserving intangible heritage in the context of climate displacement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-315
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Climate adaptation
  • Climate displacement
  • Climate justice
  • Climate relocation
  • Intangible cultural heritage
  • Stakeholder involvement

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