A Way of Negotiating the Future
Considering three examples of rivers in Europe, this article examines how ecological grief can trigger environmental discourses and awareness concerning the UN SDGs. We define heritage as a cultural practice involved in constructing and negotiating a range of values and understandings through engagement between people, things and places. Among humans, nature can be mourned and the emotions of loss, sadness and yearning can inspire activism. Organizing funerals for nature has become an important element of mourning the death of “loved ones” and fighting for their revival, thus drawing the attention of the wider society to ecological problems. In discourses seen as central to attracting support and making changes real, nature is represented using powerful metaphors of life and death. We argue that the symbolic mourning for rivers creates a space to collectively express ecological grief, loss and other feelings in a way that supports struggles for ecological justice. In shared loss, there could be restoration.