Project

UNESCO Chair Programme on Cultural Heritage
and Risk Management

Background:

Disasters and Urban Cultural Heritage
Historic Urban Areas and their territorial settings are irreplaceable and highly complex cultural resources that have evolved over time and contain various heritage components and systems such as traditional housing, urban spaces, ecological features such as water systems and intangible components such as rituals and social activities that have sustained these areas for generations.

However these historic areas and their settings are becoming increasingly fragile due to unprecedented transformation processes that have posed grave risks to their heritage values and have increased their vulnerability to natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides and floods.

Several catastrophic disasters in recent years such as Mumbai floods of 2005, Hurricane Katrina affecting New Orleans in 2005, Christchurch, Haiti and Chile Earthquakes of 2010 and recent Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and Thailand Floods in 2011 have caused extensive damage to rich cultural heritage located in these areas.

Post disaster recovery of cultural heritage is an extremely difficult and long process that involves not only repair and restoration but also revival and recreation of tangible and intangible heritage that is closely connected to peoples’ lives. However at the same time, it is also an opportunity to reduce risks of future disasters by putting in place, mitigation measures at policy, planning and technological levels through an integrated approach aimed at comprehensive risk management and sustainable development of historic areas. Moreover these should effectively engage various stakeholders at the city, national, regional as well as international levels for protecting cultural heritage in historic areas during such catastrophic situations in the future. This would be the best way for protecting cultural heritage for present and future generations.

Considering these issues, the theme of the 8th UNESCO Chair International Training Course on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage would be ‘Reducing disaster Risks to historic urban areas and their territorial settings through Mitigation’. The year's training programme will focus on policies and planning measures for mitigating risks to cultural heritage from multiple hazards such as earthquakes, floods, landslides and fires, especially in rapidly urbanizing context of developing countries. Special techniques for mitigating risks from earthquakes and fires will also be highlighted besides policies, planning and design interventions for long term restoration and rehabilitation of cultural heritage following disaster through a special workshop in the area affected by the Great East Japan Disaster in 2011.


Background of UNESCO Chair Training Programme
A thematic meeting on Cultural Heritage Risk Management was held in Kobe, Japan, in January 2005, as part of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR). The meeting adopted a declaration that recognized the close relationship between the protection of cultural heritage and socio-economic development.

In response to the recommendations of the Conference, RitsDMUCH has been acting as a focal point for organizing international research, training and information network in the field of cultural heritage risk management and disaster mitigation.

The past training courses have been attended by participants from Indonesia, Korea, China and the Philippines from East Asia; Myanmar and Malaysia from South-East Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan from South Asia; Iran and Turkey from the Middle East; Kenya and Uganda from Africa; Peru, Jamaica, Colombia and Mexico from South and Central America; Palau from Oceania; Serbia and Moldova from Europe and Fiji and New Zealand in the Pacific region.

Objective:

The main objective of the course is to provide an overview of the various aspects of disaster risk management of cultural heritage. In particular, the course provides interdisciplinary training to:

  • Undertake an integrated risk assessment by analyzing the vulnerability of cultural heritage to disasters risks;
  • Build an integrated system for disaster risk management of cultural heritage, incorporating mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery measures;
  • Formulate risk management plans for cultural heritage that correspond to the urban and regional disaster management plans and policies; and
  • Establish an international scientific support network for risk management of cultural heritage in order to build the institutional capacity needed to formulate comprehensive risk management plans that are based on the characteristics of cultural heritage and nature of hazards in the regional context.

Target Audience of the Course:

  • Heritage Professionals
  • Disaster Risk Management Professionals
  • Urban Practitioners
  • Administrators and Policy Makers
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Post Graduate Researchers

Structure of the Course:

The training course would include classroom lectures, field based learning through site visits and practical demonstrations at the Cultural Heritage Sites in Kyoto, Kobe and Tohoku, along with workshops, team projects, discussions and individual/group presentations.

The participants are supposed to work in multidisciplinary teams to learn the principles and practical know-how for balancing disaster management measures with those needed for conserving the values of cultural heritage. These would help towards disaster risk management of cultural heritage sites by taking into consideration the nature of cultural heritage and the socio-economic and institutional context of respective countries of participants.

During the course, RitsDMUCH will also provide various kinds of academic support to the participants to help them develop risk management plans for particular cultural heritage sites in their home countries. Therefore each participant will select one cultural heritage site in his/her respective country before attending the course.