By Ed Hill
Although many people may not be aware of it, cultural heritage plays an important role in the lives and socio-economic well-being of large sections of communities living around the globe.
In Europe, for instance, it is estimated that the tourism sector, which is largely focused on historic cityscapes, buildings, monuments, precincts, museums and landscapes, was valued in 2006 at €586bn (US$642bn, £527.5bn), and employed up to 9.7 million people. It was further estimated that investment in conservation amounted to €5bn (US$5.5bn, £4.5bn) per annum, with its attendant employment and income generation benefits. (Heritage and Resilience – Issues and Opportunities for Reducing Disaster Risks: prepared for the 4th Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, 19-23 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland). The loss of heritage resource assets to floods or other disasters could therefore impact negatively on the livelihoods of large numbers of people, long after the immediate effects of the disaster have been dealt with.