UNESCO Conference

“UNESCO Regional Conference on Harmonizing Actions to Reduce Risks for Cultural Heritage in Asia and the Pacific”

7-9 December 2015
Hotel Jen, Penang, Malaysia

 Across the Asia-Pacific region, cultural heritage continues to be overlooked in preparing for and recovering from disasters and armed conflict. As a result, cultural heritage sites, monuments, movable heritage, collections and museums remain vulnerable and at risk. With few exceptions, even World Heritage properties lack adequate policies, protocols and resources in planning or responding to disasters and armed conflict. Without such frameworks in place, sites and objects are subject to direct damage, looting and illicit trafficking.

There is a need to ensure that appropriate measures for preparing for, responding to and recovering from disaster and armed conflict situations are reflected in cultural heritage policies and practices. While the World Heritage Committee has already flagged the importance of including disaster risk reduction measures as part the sustainable management of sites, from an operational point of view, much remains to be done in terms of enhancing baseline information, strengthening institutions, building capacity and mobilizing resources at all stages from preparedness to recovery. Similarly, the resilience of other immovable and movable cultural heritage also needs to be strengthened in the context of disaster risk reduction.

The UNESCO conference will build upon the momentum of the Third UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in Sendai, Japan in early 2015. The specific aims of the conference are as follows:

  • Raise awareness within the disaster, humanitarian and development agencies of the importance of protecting cultural heritage in the context of risks from disasters and armed conflicts
  • Take stock and showcase existing and emerging best practices and standards for enhancing resilience for immovable and movable cultural heritage in the context of disasters and armed conflicts
  • Provide a platform to identify current obstacles and important priorities for the integration of culture and heritage into regional initiatives and institutional frameworks for managing risks from disasters and conflicts, including in post-conflict situations
  • Promote partnerships at the national level among heritage agencies and disaster/humanitarian response agencies and at the regional and international level among key disaster management, humanitarian and development partners, with a view to strengthening future technical capacity within the region as well as for mobilizing resources for future action,

Over 20 country delegations from around the Asia-Pacific region are invited to take part, with each delegation including senior representatives of the cultural heritage agency and the disaster management agency.