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Expert of the Week   for  25 - 31 Aug 2014

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Rohit Jigyasu

UNESCO Chair Professor at the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage

Ritsumeikan University Expertise:  Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage

Rohit Jigyasu is a conservation architect and risk management professional from India, currently working at ICCROM as Project Manager on Urban Heritage, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management. Rohit served as UNESCO Chair holder professor at the Institute for Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, where he was instrumental in developing and teaching International Training Course on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage. He was the elected President of ICOMOS-India from 2014-2018 and president of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP) from 2010-2019. Rohit has been the Elected Member of the Executive Committee of ICOMOS since 2011 and is currently serving as its Vice President for the period 2017-2020. Before joining ICCROM, Rohit has been working with several national and international organizations such as UNESCO, UNISDR, Getty Conservation Institute and World Bank for consultancy, research and training on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage.

Building Resilience by Reducing Disaster Risks to Cultural Heritage

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QQuestion by Mr KOFFI N'ZI Dié Blaise

3) in a marshy area,a lagoon environment and a coastal atlntic moving,how evacuate people by way lagoon disaster?(flooding)

Mr KOFFI N'ZI Dié Blaise Conservateur de musée ,Agent du bureau conservatio | Secrétariat Exécutif du Programme de Gestion de l
Côte d'Ivoire

APosted on 31 Aug 2014

Evacuation would necessitate identification of safe refuge area for the people and standard operating procedures with clear chain of command for emergency response.

QQuestion by Mr koffi n'zi dié blaise

2) in grand bassam,coastal erosion progress well. Besides of the prohibition of taking away sand on the sea bay,what are actions carried out in short term?

Mr koffi n'zi dié blaise Conservateur de musée ,Agent du bureau conservatio | Secrétariat Exécutif du Programme de Gestion de la
Côte d'Ivoire

APosted on 31 Aug 2014

Mitigation coastal erosion would require various measures that address the root cause of eriosion such as incompatible land use, water management and other factors that would require detailed site investigation. 

QQuestion by Mr KOFFI N'ZI Dié Blaise

1)due to the occurrence of tidal and rising waves that threaten the integrity of the site of the city of grand bassam,how to implement a pratical way of an early system to prevent people against the risks disasters and anticipate collateral damage?

Mr KOFFI N'ZI Dié Blaise Conservateur de musée ,Agent au bureau conservatio | Secrétariat Exécutif du Programme de Gestion de la
Côte d'Ivoire

APosted on 31 Aug 2014

An efficient early warning system for tidal and rising waves would necessitate efficient communication between  agency(ies) responsible for heritage management, the city government/municipality and the larger district or regional level. 

QQuestion by Ms Getnet Nigussie

Authenticate natural and cultural heritages found in AFRICA and we are going to lose them because of less economy background, luck of awareness, natural and made disaster what will be the future plane to save and keep well for coming generation ?

Ms Getnet Nigussie PR | Minstry of cultur and Tourism

APosted on 31 Aug 2014

Dear Ms. Nigussie, You are right. Rich African cultural and natural heritage needs to be protected against disasters caused by natural as well as human induced hazards. Glaring example are severe damage to World Heritage Site of Kasubi tombs in Uganda in 2010 due to fire and destruction of World Heritage Sufi Shrines of Timbuktu in Mali in 2012 due to armed conflict. In the absence of concerted efforts these irreplaceable resources of mankind would be lost forever. Forthcoming WCDRR in Japan next year and proposed HFA2 is a good opportunity for Ethiopia as well as other African countries to bring this issue to global attention. International organisations such as UNESCO, ICOMOS through its scientific committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP) and ICCROM can help to facilitate this process.

QQuestion by Ms Stella Joy

Thank you. Traditionally humanity respected nature and the ecosystems that supported the infinite renewable functions of the water cycle, which supports all life on Earth. The continuum of life and cultural traditions are dependent upon this respect.

Ms Stella Joy Co Director | Active Remedy Ltd
United Kingdom

APosted on 31 Aug 2014

Absolutely! Also sustainable management of water resources have ensured disaster risk reduction of communities that are regularly exposed to flooding as well as droughts. In fact there are many cases from around the world that demonstrate 'living with risk' approach through adaptation of living pattern around available water resources, maintaining a harmonious relationship between humans and their immediate environment

QQuestion by Ms Tara Joy

How can we maintain cultural heritage if the global water cycle stops functioning? There are vast differences between managing water as a finite resource and safeguarding the renewable functions of the water cycle. Surely this is also our heritage?

Ms Tara Joy Company Secretary | Active Remedy Ltd
United Kingdom

APosted on 30 Aug 2014

Dear Ms. Tara Joy,

Yes indeed, renewable functions of the water cycle have been skilfully captured through excellent traditional water systems, which are essential part of our cultural heritage. In order to maintain this cycle, we must look at ways of ensuring that these systems are maintained. In those cases, where these have stopped functioning, the potential for their revival must be explored. This is more critical in the light of accelerated climate change that is threatening our eco-system more than ever before. We can not afford to lose this finite resource that is key to our survival.  

QQuestion by Ms Stella Joy

The global water cycle is akin to a lynchpin. If it's security is continually ignored it will reach a tipping point and all will be lost.Our cultural heritage is also dependent upon the proper functioning of this cycle. How do you feel about this?

Ms Stella Joy Co Director | Active Remedy Ltd
United Kingdom

APosted on 30 Aug 2014

Dear Ms. Stella Joy,
You are absolutely right. Traditional water systems such as irrigation canals, wells, tanks etc. are important components of cultural heritage that have ensured survival of communities and even entire civilizations. Threat to global water security poses great risk to cultural heritage. While we devise new technology and practices to address this issue, we also must look at the potential of reviving excellent traditional water harvesting systems that have been skillfully developed by our ancestors by carefully considering local constraints and opportunities. 

QQuestion by Mr Syed Harir Shah

What are the risk to culture heritage? and how culture heritage risk could be reduced for resiliency building

Mr Syed Harir Shah Executive Director | JAD Foundation(JF)

APosted on 29 Aug 2014

Dear Mr. Syed Harir Shah

Cultural heritage is at risk from natural as well as human induced hazards. These hazards may include earthquakes, floods, cyclones, fires, terrorism, armed conflict etc.  These pose threats to peoples' lives, livelihoods as well as heritage properties. Recent examples include damage to historic Bohol churches in Philippines due to earthquake in 2013 and devastating fires in the World Heritage City of Lijang in China earlier this year. Armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq have already caused significant destruction of cultural heritage during last few years.

Risks to cultural heritage can be reduced by investing in risk assessment and mitigation through policies, planning and regular maintenance and monitoring. Moreover heritage sites and museums should have emergency preparedness plan as well as standard operating procedures for responding in such situations. These should be regularly practices through drills. Lastly heritage needs should be addressed in recovery and rehabilitation strategies. 

QQuestion by Chris Marrion PE FSFPE

Dr Jigyasu

As Chair of ICORP (Int'l Committee on Risk Preparedness), what are your thoughts on ICORP's role in helping protect cultural heritage from disasters & building resilience?

Kind regards,
Chris Marrion

CEO-Marrion Fire & Risk Consulting

Chris Marrion PE FSFPE

APosted on 28 Aug 2014

Dear Mr. Marrion,

The Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP) of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) aims to enhance the state of preparedness within the heritage institutions and professions in relation to disasters of natural or human origin, and to promote better integration of the protection of heritage structures, sites or areas into national, local as well as international disaster management, including mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities. At present ICORP has more than 50 international professionals from more than 20 different countries from the region.

These activities include developing manuals, guidelines and publications, undertaking training and capacity building, raising awareness, disseminating best practices and organizing scientific symposiums. These are undertaken through collaboration with various national and international organizations as well as academic institutions. 

We also disseminate information on the damage suffered by cultural heritage due to various disasters and the ongoing efforts for recovery and rehabilitation. We have a dedicated website to disseminate news and activities. 


QQuestion by Mr Giovanni Boccardi

Dear Rohit,
The 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action included only a passing reference to heritage, In 2015, the 3rd WCDRR of Sendai is expected to adopt a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction. In this context, do you think that a concern for heritage should be further integrated in this framework? If so, what would be the key objectives of the post-2015 DRR strategy to which heritage could contribute? Finally, what should be the main arguments, in your view, that the heritage sector should bring to the table, to advocate effectively for the inclusion of heritage in the outcomes of the WCDRR?

Mr Giovanni Boccardi Head, Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit | UNESCO

APosted on 28 Aug 2014

Dear Giovanni

The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) has been the key to increasing the understanding, knowledge and developing approaches and priorities for reducing disaster risks and building resilience. However as rightly pointed out by you, reference to heritage in this important framework has been marginal. Post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction provides us with unique opportunity to integrate concerns for heritage in the overall agenda. In my view heritage, can effectively and powerfully contribute to the following key objectives of this framework:-

1. Reinforcing practical links between disaster risk reduction, climate change, sustainable development, poverty eradication and environment goals.

2. Building resilience of communities through optimised utilisation of available resources and increased potential for collaborative alliances. ·        

3. Development of unified tools supporting greater coherence and coordination among various approaches. ·      

4. Coordinated and coherent action on DRR across different sectors and between central and local governments.

5. Making economic case for greater investment in DRR especially for tourism and services sectors.

6. Incorporating disaster risk reduction in land use, urban and spatial planning

The contribution of heritage to the above mentioned objectives and the outcomes of WCDRR can be justified through the following arguments :-

Heritage as a repository of knowledge accumulated over generations through series of trials and errors is an irreplaceable asset that can contribute towards building resilience of communities. There are many instances where this knowledge is reflected in indigenous construction technology that takes into consideration mitigation of hazards such as earthquakes and floods to which the region is exposed. Moreover sustainable land use and natural resource management practices seen in cultural landscapes have often contributed towards disaster risk reduction, while adapting to local constraints and needs. Therefore heritage helps linking disaster risk reduction goals with climate change adaptation, sustainable development and environment. Integrating it in local planning and development will go a long way towards reducing disaster risks.

Heritage is a pillar that binds local communities to their places and as such can be used to support community based disaster risk reduction through traditional practices and management systems.
Heritage supports livelihoods of communities through tourism and therefore disaster risk management of cultural heritage would ensure protection of lives, livelihoods and assets and help in linking disaster risk reduction with the goals of poverty eradication.

Culture is crosscutting across various sectors such as shelter, infrastructure, livelihoods, environment and health. Therefore disaster risk reduction of heritage would enable coordinated and coherent action on DRR across different sectors. Heritage especially in urban areas would also necessitate coordination with local governments / municipalities.

Heritage is also fundamental for sustainable post disaster recovery as it helps in reinforcing identity and enabling psycho-social recovery of affected communities. Experience has also shown that heritage provides emergency support to people after disasters as refuge areas.

However it is important to move beyond mere glorification of heritage and realize its enormous but mostly untapped potential in making our communities and nations safer.

QQuestion by Mr Abhilash Panda

Dear Rohit,

How do you thing the Making Cities Resilient Campaign support in reducing disaster risks to Cultural Heritage. The campaign works with 2000 cities based on the Ten essentials ( derivative of HFA).

Mr Abhilash Panda Programme Officer | UN

APosted on 25 Aug 2014

Dear Abhilash,

Making Cities Resilient Campaign can contribute immensely towards reducing disaster risks to cultural heritage.

Vast wealth of our cultural heritage is located in cities and in some cases entire historic urban areas or city centres are recognized as cultural heritage. Reducing disaster risks would necessitate close cooperation between respective heritage organizations and local city governments to integrate heritage concerns in urban disaster risk reduction strategies. In terms of the ten essentials for making cities resilient, this would entail:-

1. Local communities and citizen groups inhabiting historic urban areas or urbanized surroundings of heritage sites and museums should be effectively engaged for disaster risk reduction programmes aiming to reduce risks to lives as well as heritage property. Organizations responsible for heritage management should closely coordinate with various departments such as housing, infrastructure, public health, shelter, livelihoods etc.

2. Residents, commercial and public sector establishments in heritage areas should be given incentives to encourage them to invest in disaster risk reduction measures. Moreover suitable budget should be allocated by responsible heritage organizations for undertaking practical risk mitigation measures through adequate prioritization.

3. Hazard and vulnerability maps at city and regional level should inform the risks to heritage sites and museums. This is especially important since in most cases those responsible for managing heritage are not even aware of the availability of this kind of information. Moreover comprehensive risk assessment for heritage sites and museums located in urban areas should be undertaken through close cooperation with local government /municipality.

4. Critical urban infrastructure such as drainage, roads and electricity is crucial for reducing risks to heritage sites and museums from hazards such as earthquakes, floods and fire. Therefore close coordination is needed between organizations responsible for heritage and those planning and maintaining urban infrastructure.

5. There are many instances where schools and health facilities are located in historic buildings/areas. These lifeline buildings need to be suitably retrofitted to ensure safety as well as protection of heritage values.

6. Historic urban fabric is often vulnerable due to age and lack of maintenance. As such, these areas require special repair and retrofitting programmes that ensure safety as well as retention of heritage values. The regulations for new infill buildings and landuse planning in historic areas should also maintain the heritage character while ensuring disaster risk reduction. 

7. Educational programmes and training should be organized in heritage sites and museums to raise awareness and build capacity in disaster risk reduction.

8. Ecosystems and natural buffers should be maintained to ensure sustainability of historic urban landscapes. Moreover maintenance and monitoring systems for heritage should take climate change adaptation into consideration. In fact, disaster risk reduction should be well integrated into regular management plans for heritage sites and museums

9. Efficient communication should be established between regional and City level early warning systems and agency(ies) responsible for managing heritage sites and museums. Adequate emergency preparedness measures should be put in place in heritage sites and museums through coordination between heritage agencies and emergency response services and civic defence bodies. Heritage should also be introduced in the chain of command for disaster response at city level. Regular drills should be organized in heritage sites and museums in close coordination with emergency services and municipality to practice and upgrade response procedures.

 10. Culturally sensitive reconstruction should be undertaken to ensure sustainable recovery of affected communities. Moreover, repair and retrofitting of cultural heritage including vernacular housing should be given due consideration in the post disaster reconstruction programmes.