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The Rathgen-Forschungslabor (Rathgen Research Laboratory) of the Staatliche Museen of Berlin, acting on behalf of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK – Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), organised between April 16 – 17 2024 a workshop called “Resilient cultural heritage in times of climate crisis” within the framework of the Horizon Europe-funded ARCHE project (Alliance for Research on Cultural Heritage in Europe). The event, hosted at the Kulturforum Berlin, gathered around 100 policy- and decision-makers, researchers, activists and practitioners from Germany and the surrounding countries, who discussed the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage, but especially the ways in which cultural heritage can provide sustainable solutions to this crisis.

The workshop comprised four different panels approaching the different challenges that the future ARCHE Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) should tackle, such as what are the threats of climate change on cultural heritage, cultural heritage research as an innovation and mitigation driver and the secondary impacts of the climate crisis on cultural heritage, which aimed at highlighting often overlooked aspects in the digital realm, the zones of war and conflict, migration and ownership. The event concluded with a networking segment that focused on engaging stakeholders with the goals of the future European Partnership for Resilient Cultural Heritage (RCH).

The event was followed by the consortium meetings of the ARCHE project, which addressed the finished and upcoming deliverables, as well as the completed and ongoing tasks. After a first year focused on conducting a comprehensive mapping and assessment of the research and innovation landscape in cultural heritage across Europe, complete with several rounds of online stakeholder consultations, ARCHE is starting its series of in-person workshops with the Berlin event, followed by three more such workshops in 2024 (in September, October and December), hosted by the local partners. The highlights of 2024 will be the publication of the first version of the new SRIA for cultural heritage (a document that strives to act as a roadmap for harmonising heritage research policies across the continent in the coming years), as well as of the project’s policy recommendations.

Another important tool in drafting the SRIA is the online Heritage Research Forum. This interactive platform will act as a co-design space in which the wider heritage research and innovation community will be able to directly consult the intermediary outputs of the SRIA drafting process and provide their direct feedback on them. The access to the platform is free and all interested users need to do is register on the Heritage Research Hub website.

Besides discussing the project’s main achievements in the past year, the consortium exchanges in Berlin also addressed the future European Partnership on Resilient Cultural Heritage, for which ARCHE aims at paving the way. Partners discussed the next steps regarding the submission of a future full RCH proposal, which is due to start circulating in summer ´24. The RCH Partnership aims at fully deploying the large-scale instruments and networks at its disposal to launch calls for projects and complementary activities that would boost research at the intersection of climate change and cultural heritage.

In addition to the plenary discussions on the progress of ARCHE, partners also engaged in smaller, thematic working sessions hosted by the Institut français Berlin and in cooperation with the French Embassy in Germany, that further advanced the SRIA development while simultaneously reinforcing the team spirit.

The three days of the ARCHE workshop and consortium meetings provided a much-needed opportunity for consolidating the project’s community and the broader heritage research community, while offering plenty of insights and positive energy for the upcoming months of work.