The renewal of the Memorandum of Cooperation for planning and taking measures to protect the archaeological sites in the context of climate change from the risk of fires, the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni and the Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Vassilis Kikilia signed today.

From 2021, the two Ministries are working closely with joint working groups to strengthen civil protection plans in the light of natural hazards and extreme phenomena that are developing and due to climate change. To date, in more than thirty archaeological sites, projects and actions have been launched related to the taking of additional preventive and suppressive fire protection measures, both for the outdoor areas and for the building infrastructures, the conduct of exercises and the training of the staff of the Ministry of Defense, as well as the examination of studies and the preparation or revision of Civil Protection plans.

The new memorandum focuses on shielding archaeological sites from the risk of fire, enriching the cooperation framework which has already been formed between the two Ministries for the specific issues.
Immediately after the signing of the memorandum, the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni made the following statement:
“With the renewal of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministries of Culture and Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, the extremely constructive cooperation of the two Ministries is further consolidated and enriched. The effort of the previous years was focused on upgrading the fire protection of the archaeological sites, with the aim of preserving human life and protecting our monumental stock. The cooperation of the executives of the two Ministries gives added value to the whole project, in terms of the development of the appropriate skills, the recognition and implementation of good practices, the highlighting of elements that need strengthening and improvement and the submission of relevant proposals. In this context projects and actions were implemented in many archaeological sites and mainly in UNESCO sites. The selection of the archaeological sites was based on the combined assessment of the climatic risk of fire occurrence, the vulnerability of the sites to the specific risk, the high level of traffic and the hosting of cultural events. However, the reality emerging in the context of the climate crisis imposes the need to adapt more quickly to the new conditions in the most holistic way. Today, we are focusing on the further armoring of more archaeological sites, taking into account both the new data that emerged during the previous fire fighting season, as well as the good practices that have been developed to date, with priority given to strengthening and improving our institutional tools, infrastructure fire protection and our business planning. The scientific assistance of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens under the coordination and scientific responsibility of Kostas Kartalis was and remains decisive in this effort. I would like to emphasize that in order to achieve the objectives of the Memorandum, also, in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, a similar approach will be launched for the other risks in the context of the climate crisis. Flooding is an immediate and equally important priority.”
For his part, the Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Vasilis Kikilias, stated: “We signed today with the Minister of Culture, my colleague Lina Mendoni – whom I thank very much for her excellent cooperation – a memorandum for planning and taking measures in our archaeological sites with the aim of shielding them against the risk of fire, as well as protection of the millions of Greek and foreign travelers who visit the cultural monuments of our country every year.

The climate crisis affecting the entire planet, the extreme weather events and the uncontrolled natural disasters they cause, demand more than ever the synergies and coordination of all the agencies involved. This is also the goal of the specific memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Culture.
The protection of our archaeological sites is also part of the AEGIS program – amounting to €2.1 billion – which we are advancing rapidly at the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection. This is a flagship project that includes the procurement not only of means of dealing with natural disasters, such as aircraft, helicopters and fire engines, but also of technological systems aimed at prevention, which is the major one. Our purpose is to use technology for information and early warning – in this case in the archaeological sites with fire protection and fire detection systems – so that we have the possibility to prevent fires in their origin, before they spread and endanger the natural wealth of of our country, the monuments of our cultural heritage, the property of citizens, but above all human lives”.
For the implementation of the actions of the memorandum a Joint Working Group will be set up, which will carry out autopsies on selected archaeologists where it will record the current situation and formulate instructions for improving fire protection measures and means. It will also conduct sample audits of the means of fire protection in the archaeological sites and museums examined under the previous memorandum, in the years 2022 and 2023. The Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection assists in the audit of the fire protection studies of the Ministry of Culture.
At the same time, our cooperation with the co-competent Ministries of Environment and Energy and Interior and the bodies of Decentralized and Local Self-Government continues and is strengthened for matters of their competence related to the protection of archaeological sites and the implementation of Civil Protection plans in them.
An update of population evacuation plans in case of fire is foreseen, as well as cooperation between the two ministries for the installation of early fire detection and warning systems in selected archaeological sites. They will also organize and carry out population evacuation exercises in archaeological sites and Museums. In this context, the training of officials of the Ministry of Culture in matters of fire protection of archaeological sites and Museums has been provided.
Finally, in collaboration with the two Ministries, promotion and information actions are being launched for the results recorded by the actions of the memorandum, for the benefit of our cultural heritage.