Call for Application for UNESCO Chair Programme on Cultural Heritage and Risk Management, International Training Course (ITC) on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage 2020,15th year

Cancellation Notice

Importance notice on ITC 2020,

We regret to announce cancellation of ITC 2020 scheduled from the 2nd to 24th of September 2020 organized by the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University in collaboration with ICCROM.

Due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic across the world and the uncertainty surrounding it, we have made this difficult decision considering the importance of securing the health and safety of all potential participants. Besides this, the Government of Japan very recently decided to extend the state of emergency for the whole country. Given these circumstances which are beyond our control, we had no choice but to make this decision of cancellation.

We sincerely express our deepest apologies to all the applicants who are strongly motivated to improve knowledge and skills on disaster risk management of cultural heritage. The ITC organizers will contact you individually with our apologies after 18th May. We strongly hope that next year you will apply again. At the same time, please accept our apologies for any inconveniences that this cancellation may have caused. We sincerely appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

Lastly but most importantly, we wish health and safety for all.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Takeyuki OKUBO
Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage,
Ritsumeikan University


International Training Course (ITC) on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage 2020, 15th year, Ritsumeikan University

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Organized by Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage,
Ritsumeikan University/ In cooperation with ICCROM
Supported by UNESCO and ICOM

Call for Application

1.Dates and Places

Dates of Course: 2nd September to 24th September, 2020
Place: Kyoto and other Heritage Sites in Japan

2. Sub theme of ITC2020

Towards the Integrated Protection of Immovable and Movable Cultural Heritage from Risk of Fire

Cultural heritage is increasingly exposed to disasters caused by natural and human-induced hazards such as earthquakes, floods, fires, typhoons, terrorism, etc. Recent examples include fires in Shuri Castle in 2019, the Notre-Dame de Paris in 2019, the National Museum of Brazil in 2018, and across Australia in 2019 and 2020, as well as a typhoon in Western Japan in 2018, earthquakes in Central Mexico in 2017, Kumamoto Japan, Central Italy, Myanmar in 2016, and Nepal in 2015, floods in the UK in 2015, in the Balkans in 2014, and ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen. In addition, climate change will cause floods, draughts, and bushfires that can create huge damage to both cultural heritage and the natural environment. These disasters not only affect immovable heritage such as monuments, archaeological sites, and historic urban areas, but also cause damage to movable heritage, including museum collections, heritage objects, religious artifacts, and other artefacts that are of significance to local communities. In the aftermath of a disaster, many architectural fragments of damaged or collapsed buildings require documentation, handling, and storage. As such, both movable and immovable heritage are exposed to various disasters.

In particular, fires have devastated a substantial number of heritage sites and museums in recent years. This devastation by fires is seen in the cases of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the National Museum of Brazil, the Glasgow School of Arts, the Windsor Castle, part of historic cities (e.g. Valparaiso in Chile and Lijiang in China), historic ships (e.g. the Cutty Sark), national monuments (e.g. the Namdaemun in South Korea), religious structures (e.g. the Wangdue Phodrang in Bhutan), and tombs (e.g. the Kasubi Tombs), as well as museums including the National Museum of Natural History in India and the Southwark Museum in the UK i.These fires are caused by both natural and human-induced factors inside or outside of cultural heritage. The former includes bush or forest fires under high temperatures during periods of little or no rainfalls, lightning, and volcanoes. The latter includes electrical short circuits due to faulty wiring, smoking, open flames, the burning of candles, arson, and bombing. Fires may also follow natural hazards such as earthquakes or hurricanes, as seen in the case of the Kobe earthquake in 1995 where fires destroyed significant parts of historic neighborhoods made of wooden houses. There are also many instances in which fires are caused by negligence during the restoration and upgradation works of heritage buildings and museums. Inappropriate response measures, such as the misuse of fire extinguishing agents, may sometimes unintentionally cause damage to heritage sites, museums, and their collections. As such, fires have resulted in the loss of both tangible and intangible components of cultural heritage; tangible ones include natural landscapes, archaeological materials, built structures, and collections, and intangible ones include like rituals, cultural practices, and traditional skills.

Even simple and cost-effective solutions can contribute to reducing risks to the tangible and intangible components of cultural heritage, while there are various issues, such as limited awareness and insufficient resources that need to be dealt with for the prevention or mitigation of fires. In the unfortunate event of a fire, timely and heritage-sensitive response measures can prevent the quick spreading of fires and minimize damage to heritage sites, museums, and their collections. Considering the above, the 15th International Training Course will put a substantial focus on the integrated protection of immovable and movable cultural heritage from the risk of fires.

An integrated approach for the protection of movable and immovable heritage needs to be taken before, during, and after a disaster. This includes the risk assessment of heritage sites as well as museums and their collections. The limited availability of human and financial resources in the event of a disaster leads to the necessity of closer coordination between professionals, domestic institutions, and external agencies that deal with heritage sites, museums, and their collections. Moreover, integrated disaster risk management requires appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies based on an understanding of the values of movable and immovable heritage. Therefore, it is important to recognize many examples of traditional knowledge evolved by communities through a series of trials and errors. Thus, both movable and immovable cultural heritage need to be integrated into strategies for disaster risk management. This can be an effective source of resilience to disaster risks.

Japan is home to a variety of frequently occurring disasters that can cause substantial damage to assets and resources. For this reason, the country has developed specialized measures such as the establishment of a disaster risk management system, and methodologies for pre-disaster measures, disaster response, and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. This training course will expose participants to these measures.

For more details

3. Application Requirements


4. Application Deadline

Applications should be e-mailed to
by April 20th (Monday), 2020 (JST).
Please see the Guidelines for Application for more details.


5. Previous Courses

For the details of the past years' International Training Courses, please access the page below.

i Annex A contains a list of numerous World Heritage Sites that were damaged by fires since their inscriptions.