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Cultural-historical heritage Croatia

Vulnerabilities - Mediterranean UNESCO World Heritage

UNESCO World Heritage sites located in coastal areas are increasingly at risk from coastal hazards due to sea-level rise. In the Mediterranean region, World Heritage sites of several ancient civilisations are concentrated especially in coastal locations, often located directly at the waterfront and hardly above sea level (3). Protection of most of the sites from coastal hazards is limited. For these sites the risk from coastal flooding and erosion in a changing climate was assessed. It appeared that of the 49 World Heritage sites in low-lying coastal areas of the Mediterranean, 37 are at risk from a 100-year flood and 42 from coastal erosion, already today (2).

Approximately one third of these sites are located in Italy, followed by Croatia, Greece, and Tunisia. 47 of these 49 sites may be at risk from at least one of these hazards, flooding or erosion, by the end of the century. Until 2100, flood risk may increase by 50% and erosion risk by 13% across the region, with considerably higher increases at individual sites (2).

On the one hand, these risk estimates may be overestimated for certain sites, as no coastal protection measures were assumed in the assessment. Venice is a clear example of a World Heritage site that will be well protected by flood barriers in future decades. On the other hand, risk estimates may be underestimated in certain locations, as the assessment also did not account for human-induced land subsidence. Subsidence due to ground water extraction can be high in cities such as Venice (4) and Istanbul, and in river deltas such as those of the Nile, Po and Rhone (5).

It is likely that for the protection of some historical monuments against sea level rise, particularly those included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, international assistance would be required. This would include Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the historic core of the town of Trogir. Unfortunately, proactive measures for sea level rise are not being implemented so far (1).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Croatia.

  1. Baric et al. (2008)
  2. Reimann et al. (2018)
  3. Benoit and Comeau (2005), in: Reimann et al. (2018)
  4. Bock et al. (2012), in: Reimann et al. (2018)
  5. Syvitski et al. (2009); Taramelli et al. (2015), both in: Reimann et al. (2018)

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