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Disaster Risk Reduction for Cultural Heritage

Across the Asia-Pacific region, cultural heritage continues to be subjected to a wide range of risks. Natural hazards and man-made threats such as armed conflict leave tangible and intangible heritage in jeopardy. World Heritage properties are not excluded.

When cultural properties lack risk planning, they remain vulnerable to direct damage in addition to compromising sustainable development. Therefore, preparedness for disaster risk is a priority that needs to be addressed urgently.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) foresees that building resilience is not a simple possibility but rather an imperative. For a region with such high risks threatening cultural heritage, it is necessary to ensure appropriate measures in order to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Preparedness should be reflected in cultural heritage policies and practices. The World Heritage Committee has already flagged the importance of including disaster risk reduction measures as part of the sustainable management of sites.

However, from an operational point of view, various measures remain to be undertaken. Similarly, the resilience of other immovable and movable cultural heritage as well as intangible cultural heritage needs to be strengthened in the context of disaster risk reduction. The role of cultural heritage should be acknowledged in contributing to disaster preparedness and response.

Events

 

Regional Conference on Harmonizing Actions to Reduce Risks for Cultural Heritage in Asia and the Pacific

The conference brought together a diverse group of experts in heritage conservation, disaster risk reduction to work towards greater regional cooperation in protecting our region’s precious cultural legacy.

It built on the momentum of the Third UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in Sendai, Japan, held earlier this year, where the global community made a commitment to mobilize more proactively to reduce disaster risks, a commitment enshrined in the Sendai Framework.

The conference also seeks to advance that commitment by raising awareness of the importance of protecting cultural heritage in the face of increased risks from disasters and armed conflicts, showcasing best practices in protecting heritage and identifying obstacles and priorities for the integration of culture and heritage into regional initiatives and institutional frameworks for managing risks.

Highlight: UNESCO’s partner ThinkCity, held the “ThinkCity George Town Grants Programme exhibition”, showcasing the organization’s successful initiative in providing funds/matching funds to community organizations working to restore various heritage buildings in George Town. 

More on the programme: www.thinkcity.com.my/tcgrants

When: 7-9 December 2015

Where: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Who: UNESCO, host partner institution ThinkCity, a community-based “urban rejuvenation” organization, with support from ICOMOS - ICORP (International Council on Monuments and Sites, International Committee on Risk Preparedness), ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property), and partner agencies UNISDR (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), APDC (Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre) and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).

More than 70 participants from 20 countries showcased existing and emerging best practices and standards for enhancing resilience for cultural heritage in the context of disasters and armed conflicts.

HE Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang delivered welcoming remarks. Opening remarks were delivered by Ar. Laurence Loh, Director of Think City and Vibeke Jensen, Director of UNESCO Islamabad.

Keynote speeches was delivered by Bhesh Narayan Dahal, Director-General, Department of Archaeology, Nepal and Dr. Terry Cannon, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies. Experts in heritage conservation from throughout the Asia-Pacific region will also be presenting at the conference. A full agenda with speaker details is attached.