Cultural Heritage Getting #SeriousAboutSendai: Reducing Risks and Building Resilience

By Dr Rohit Jigyasu, M.Arch., Dr. of Eng.

(Editors Note:  The author, Dr. Rohit Jigyasu, and Dr. Suresh Suras SHRESTHA, Head, World Heritage Conservation Section, Department of Archaeology, Kathmandu, Nepal, were two international experts that participated in #SeriousAboutSendai: A Series of Programs about Cultural Heritage and Disaster Risk Reduction held in Washington, DC on March 9-11 on the occasion of the one year anniversary of the Sendai Framework )

Our rich cultural heritage including monuments, archaeological sites, vernacular housing, historic cities, cultural landscapes as well as cultural practices are at increasing risk from natural and human induced hazards such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, hurricanes, wild fires, arson and theft. Devastating impact on cultural heritage due to recent earthquake in Nepal in April and May 2015 has been a grim reminder of this global challenge. However, cultural heritage was not included in the overall agenda of disaster risk reduction only until recently, when following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), the UN General Assembly endorsed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.  This new Framework calls for “t]he substantial reduction of 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.”
The framework clearly recognizes culture as a key dimension of disaster risk reduction and the need to protect and draw on heritage as an asset for resilience through a number of important references. It calls for the following priorities for action that are specifically linked to cultural heritage:-

  • “Systematically evaluate, record, share and publicly account for disaster losses and understand the economic, social, health, education, environmental and cultural heritage impacts, as appropriate, in the context of event-specific hazard-exposure and vulnerability information”
  • “Protect or support the protection of cultural and collecting institutions and other sites of historical, cultural heritage and religious interest.”

To commemorate one year anniversary of the Sendai framework, US/ICOMOS in collaboration with National Conference of State Preservation Officers, Historic Preservation Education Foundation and National Park Service organized a series of programs about cultural heritage and disaster risk reduction on 9th and 10th March 2016. These programmes aimed at raising the awareness on Sendai framework and discussing its implications on policy and practice among the key stakeholders from cultural heritage sector in the US.
This would necessitate mainstreaming heritage concerns in the disaster management policies and at the same time include disaster risk reduction strategies in the management systems for cultural heritage. This would require greater coordination between heritage agencies and those in charge of disaster management and development and increased awareness and actions mobilized by local governments to reduce risk and build resilience. Moreover Critical cultural assets and infrastructures in cities need to be identified and actions taken to reduce risks. The challenge is to implement this policy at National and local levels, which requires considerable building of capacities at these levels and the setting up of the necessary institutional mechanisms, complemented by data collection and monitoring.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][ultimate_spacer height=”10″]

#SeriousAboutSendai: A Series of Programs about Cultural Heritage and Disaster Risk Reduction on the occasion of the one year anniversary of the Sendai Framework

March 9-11  ♦  Washington, DC

Dr. Rohit Jigyasu is the UNESCO Chair Professor at the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. He is a member of the Executive Board of ICOMOS, the President of ICOMOS India and the President of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP).  He makes his home in Chandigarh, India. 

#SeriousAboutSendai: A Series of Programs about Cultural Heritage and Disaster Risk Reduction on the occasion of the one year anniversary of the Sendai Framework

Presentations

NPS Disaster Outreach (Jenifer Eggleston, Management Assistant to the Office of the Associate Director for Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science & Jen Wellock, Technical Reviewer, STLPG)
Overview Presentation of the SDR, U.S. National Platform, and Sendai Framework (A. Sezin Tokar, Ph.D., SDR Member, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development)

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Glenn Dolcemascolo, UNISDR)
NPS Guidance and Approaches to Disasters, Climate Change, and Cultural Heritage (Marcy Rockman, Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator for Cultural Resources, US National Park Service)

Disasters, Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and the Importance of Cultural Heritage in DRM (Christopher E Marrion PE, FSFPE, MScFPE, Marrion Fire & Risk Consulting PE, LLC; US/ICOMOS Board of Trustees; ICOMO ICORP – Vice Chairperson)
EARTHQUAKE 2015 IN NEPAL: RESPONSE AND RECOVERY (CULTURAL HERITAGE) (Dr. Suresh Suras SHRESTHA, Head, World Heritage Conservation Section, Department of Archaeology, Kathmandu, Nepal)

US/ICOMOS is grateful to the sponsors and partners of #SeriousAboutSendai: A Series of Programs about Cultural Heritage and Disaster Risk Reduction on the occasion of the one year anniversary of the Sendai Framework, including the Historic Preservation Education Foundation; the National Park Service and its Federal Preservation Institute; and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.  We are also grateful for the participation of experts from the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the Union of Concerned Scientist of the USA, and the Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction (SDR) of the U.S. National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainability.

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