Italian Government partners with Antigua’s National Park on Climate Change Adaptation & Heritage Site Preservation

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The National Parks Authority greeted a delegation from the Italian Government on a visit to Antigua and Barbuda on the 14th and 15th of May. The delegation included Professor Peirpaolo Campostrini, Managing Director of the Consortium for Coordination of Research Activities Concerning the Venice Lagoon System(CORILA), the organization responsible for protecting the city of Venice, Italy against rising sea levels, flooding, and degradation of the historic city. 

This visit was organized by the Italian Ambassador Gianni Piccato after his repeated visits and keen interest in the heritage management challenges faced in the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park due to sea level rise, coastal erosion and financial sustainability, saw ways in which Italy could partner with Antigua and Barbuda. 

The City of Venice has faced decades of flooding and degradation due to saltwater intruding into its ancient buildings. With more than 50 years of experience in developing systems to protect the city without damaging the authenticity and integrity of the historic city, the heritage managers at the World Heritage Site of Venice are well-positioned to lend their experience to our own Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

In talks, the National Parks identified several areas where technical assistance is needed. These are adapting to sea level rise to protect the Dockyard, engineering solutions for coastal degradation, especially the erosion under Fort Berkeley, and investigating the feasibility of solar tile technology. 

Solar tiles are a new technology whereby photovoltaic panels are disguised as common roofing materials like wooden shingles but are able to produce solar power. Terracotta photovoltaic tiles have already been trialled by a pioneering Italian Company, Dyaqua, at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pompeii. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing and can pass as real materials, but the tiles are also integrated into the roof system, making them significantly more hurricane resistant than traditional solar panels. Dyaqua has already committed to prototyping designs for the Dockyard’s wallaba shingles. 

The Hon. Minister E.P. Chet Greene, Minister responsible for the National Parks hailed this collaboration noting, “We are putting Antigua and Barbuda and our heritage sites on the international map where serious professionals are asking to collaborate with our institutions like the National Park. The technology and learning opportunities piloted here can be expanded to the rest of the country and region, with Antigua and Barbuda leading the way in sustainable climate adaptation sympathetic to our heritage sites.” 

The meeting at the National Parks concluded with an agreement to establish a long-term Memorandum of Agreement between the National Parks and CORILA. This MOU will include technical support but also offer opportunities for Antiguans and Barbudans to gain experience and qualifications in coastal and hydroengineering, heritage management, and conservation. 

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