Reflections on the COP27 and the IIC Edit-A-Thon

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COP27 (2022). Image by IRENA/Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

By Marina Herriges

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave a very clear indication before the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27): “we are on the edge of an irreversible climate breakdown.” Nearly 30 years of meetings to promote much-needed change and we still have not reached an agreement to reduce the world’s fossil fuel use, and emissions keep rising. It is frustrating.

Last year when I wrote about COP26, the feeling was that although Glasgow was at the centre of the globe for two weeks, nothing concrete was agreed during the summit. This year, the situation seemed to be the same, with one difference: time is passing, and we are failing to deliver changes. There is still hope; every climate action we take lessens the damage, but our actions must be stronger and quicker.

The recent floods in Pakistan put 20 million people in need of aid, according to the Guardian. In African 150 million people are experiencing extreme hunger and economic loss due to years of ongoing drought. These disasters are caused by the severe impacts of the climate crisis and were used as examples of the urgency to change during the Convention, including in the moving speech from the prime minister from Barbados, Mia Mottley.

In the spotlight were discussions about the division between poor and rich countries in relation to the climate crisis, emphasizing that many culprits of climate change are engrained in the economic success of rich nations. The words “loss”, “damage” and “reparation” to the majority of the world’s population (who are in developing countries) were frequently used in demanding climate justice. It is, after all, these developing nations who have suffered the most damage from climate crisis.  This important discussion generated frustration on how the use of the word “reparation” has been repeatedly used to support the status quo. According to Dallas Goldtooth, of the Dine’ and Dakota people, there is a more in-depth conversation to be had: “Indigenous people talk about the loss of culture and language and livelihoods—like fishing and hunting—due to the changing unpredictable climate. Reparations for us isn’t about compensation, it’s about the colonial government recognising and respecting its responsibilities in providing services and interventions to help ensure our survival.” Parties during the summit agreed to the establishment of a long-awaited “loss and damage” fund for supporting the global south.

The ideas coming out of these discussions are powerful, and it is where heritage professions can create space for these communities to raise their voices and draw attention to what they have been losing throughout years of exploitation. Culture and heritage hold great influence and must contribute to climate justice; we should also reflect on how conservation values have been built on and have been supported by values drawn from colonial periods and white supremacy.

Much homework still needs to be done. We are half-way between the Paris Agreement (2015) and the 2030 deadline, but there is still time. Saving the planet should be viewed not as a troubling problem, but as a celebrated goal!


This was the second edition of the Edit-a-Thon, and this time we had an overwhelming 246 registrants including universities and individuals. Alongside COP27, the IIC 2022 Edit-a-thon was celebrated on 16 and 17 November for 24 hours, kick-starting the event with the University of Luxor, Egypt.

Once more we had the great support from Wikipedia, especially from Richard Nevell—our brilliant Wikimedian—who supported before and during the event. Training and Q&A sessions where held during which editors were shown the available tools as well as some tips on editing. Interesting discussions came up on recent controversial topics, such as protesters using works of art to highlight climate change.

It was rewarding to have the participation of a more diverse crowd, coming from every continent, especially those from Africa and Southeast Asia. Professor Dr Hanaa Al-Gaoudi, from University of Luxor (Egypt) did an amazing job with her students – more than 50 – in bringing them together and raising the content about climate change and culture in the Arabic Wikipedia. Also, very exciting articles were created and edited, such as Woman in Climate Change, Building Deconstruction and Creative Technology, all taking into consideration heritage, culture and climate change.

The IIC 2022 Edit-a-thon was a remarkable way to bring the conservation profession together, work with colleagues around the globe and enhance content and awareness of climate change and heritage. Wikipedia is a great platform to produce open and quality content that is available for everyone. Together we will make change happen.


Marina Herriges is an object and textile conservator based in Bristol, UK. Marina is a guest visiting lecturer and research assistant at University of Glasgow. She researches embedding sustainability for active learning and student engagement in conservation. Marina has a particular interest in sustainable practices in conservation ethics as well as conservation education. Marina has worked in a range of different heritage and conservation organizations in Brazil, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

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This text is dedicated to our colleague Kate Smith who was a wonderful, supportive, and generous person to work with. Kate was a great enthusiast of the IIC 2022 Edit-a-thon and worked alongside me to get everything done for the event. Kate will be deeply missed.

(Read the entire article in the December-January 2023 "News in Conservation" Issue 93, p. 38-41)

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Time is passing, and we are failing to deliver changes. There is still hope; every climate action we take lessens the damage, but our actions must be stronger and quicker.
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