Cultural Heritage Community Serious about #switch2sendai

US/ICOMOS Hosts Week-long Events to Celebrate US’ #switch2sendai and get Cultural Heritage and Disaster Management Professionals #SeriousAboutSendai

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On March 18, 2016 the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) will celebrate its first birthday. The Sendai Framework was adopted by participants in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Sendai, Japan — including the United States — with the purpose of substantially reducing “disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.” SFDRR is the first of its kind to focus on both natural and man-made hazards and to place the well-being of people and the resilience of health infrastructure at the core of disaster risk management.

In the 12 months since the Sendai Framework was adopted, 100 million people have suffered the impact of a drought, a flood, a storm, an earthquake, a heatwave or some other natural hazard. Many have lost their homes and livelihoods or suffered a personal injury. Over 20,000 lost their lives during this period. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is intensifying its push to encourage governments and disaster risk management professionals to shift from responding to disasters to reducing the risk of disasters via prevention and mitigation through DRR methods. The push includes a new social media campaign entitled #switch2sendai.
Cultural heritage is well represented among Sendai’s provisions, thanks to sustained engagement in its development from the ICOMOS International Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP), ICCROM, UNESCO, UNISDR, the World Heritage Center and others.  As a result, the Sendai Framework promotes collaboration between cultural heritage and disaster management professionals both to incorporate heritage into DRR efforts and to focus overall DRR methods on reducing hazard exposure, increasing preparedness, and strengthening resilience for all elements of cultural heritage.
In order to build on this foundation and to aid in the #switch2sendai, US/ICOMOS has organized a series of events during the week of March 7 to explore the nexus between cultural heritage and DRR.  A key roundtable entitled Cultural Heritage, DRR and the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: A United States Perspective will provide a space for international DRR experts, cultural heritage experts and US disaster management professionals to discuss the role of cultural heritage in the implementation of SFDRR.
The week also features a training for Federal Preservation Officers under the auspices of the Federal Preservation Institute (FPI) related to cultural heritage, disaster risk reduction, and SFDRR, made possible with financial assistance from the National Park Service and the Historic Preservation Education Foundation.  A second training entitled “Disaster Risk Management and the Role of Cultural Heritage: What SHPOs need to know about the US’s Implementation of the new Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction” is co-sponsored by the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.
Speakers throughout the week include Dr. Rohit Jigyasu, UNESCO Chair Professor, Research Center for Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan and President, ICOMOS-ICORP; Christopher Marrion, PE/FSFPE, Vice Chairperson ICOMOS-ICORP/CEO Marrion Fire & Risk Consulting; Glenn Dolcemascolo, Climate Change Coordinator, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction-UNISDR;  Dr. Suresh Suras Shrestha, Chief Archaeological Officer and Head, World Heritage Conservation Section, Department of Archaeology of the Government of Nepal; Dr. A. Sezin Tokar, USAID Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance;   Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists; and Ms. Marcy Rockman & Ms. Jenifer Eggleston of the National Park Service, among others.
Please join us as we discuss the United States’ #switch2sendai and the role of cultural heritage and disaster management professionals within #SFDRR. Events throughout the week will be covered on twitter via @usicomos. Follow the conversation there and look for the hashtag #SeriousAboutSendai.

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