Beyond resilience: cultural heritage and coastal change in the MENA and East Africa regions

Colin Breen

For millennia, coastal and island communities across the Middle East and North Africa were involved in trade and communication networks bound to the sea. These past societies have left an extraordinary cultural landscape and artefactual legacy that is entwined with contemporary notions of identity and belonging. These landscapes, however, are under significant threat from the intensification of human activities in coastal environments, and from the impacts of climate and environmental change. This presentation provides an overview of the impacts resulting from natural and anthropogenic change across these regions and examines the role that coastal and island heritage plays in contemporary society. It also addresses how maritime cultural heritage can be an intrinsic part of developing more sustainable coastal communities.

Colin Breen is an archaeologist and a Reader in the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Ulster University. His professional work focuses on past maritime societies and landscape change, as well as addressing environment and conflict. He is currently a project lead on the Arcadia-funded MarEA project ( in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, and on the Global Challenges RftD Network in East Africa ( He is further involved with the Honor Frost Foundation in its work in Lebanon and Syria.

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