Heritage and Resilience: Issues and Opportunities for Reducing Disaster Risks

Rohit Jigyasu, Manas Murthy, Giovanni Boccardi, Christopher Marrion, Diane Douglas, Joseph King, Geoff O'Brien, Glenn Dolcemascolo, Yongkyun Kim, Paola Albrito, Mariana Osihn

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This paper examines the unique role of cultural heritage in disaster risk reduction. Itintroduces various approaches to protect heritage from irreplaceable loss and considers ways to draw upon heritage as an asset in building the resilience of communities and nations to disasters. The paper proposes ways forward and builds on the current momentum provided by the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters” (HFA) and the advancement of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (HFA2) and the post-2015 development agenda. Cultural heritage is often associated with grandiose monuments and iconic archaeological sites that can hold us in awe of their beauty, history and sheer scale. However, the understanding of cultural heritage has undergone a marked shift during the last few decades in terms of what it is, why it is important, why it is at risk and what can be done to protect it. Cultural heritage today encompasses a broader array of places such as historic cities, living cultural landscapes, gardens or sacred forests and mountains, technological or industrial achievements in the recent past and even sites associated with painful memories and war. Collections of movable and immoveable items within sites, museums, historic properties and archives have also increased significantly in scope, testifying not only to the lifestyles of royalty and the achievements of great artists, but also to the everyday lives of ordinary people. At the same time intangibles such as knowledge, beliefs and value systems are fundamental aspects of heritage that have a powerful influence on people’s daily choices and behaviors. Heritage is at risk due to disasters, conflict, climate change and a host of other factors.At the same time, cultural heritage is increasingly recognized as a driver of resilience that can support efforts to reduce disaster risks more broadly. Recent years have seen greater emphasis and commitment to protecting heritage and leveraging it for resilience;but initiatives, such as the few examples that are presented here, need to be encouraged and brought more fully into the mainstream of both disaster risk reduction and heritage management. These are issues that can be productively addressed in a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction and, likewise, in the post-2015 development agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationIndia
PublisherUnited Nations
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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