UNESCO Chair Programme on Cultural Heritage and Risk Management, International Training Course (ITC) on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage 2016


Disasters and Cultural Heritage
Recently devastating earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015 have caused significant loss to rich living cultural heritage. North Italy earthquake of 2012 caused widespread damage to the historic city of Ferrara while earthquake in Philippines in 2013 damaged historic Bohol churches. Floods in Balkan region in 2014 affected numerous historic towns, 2011 floods in Thailand severely damaged the World Heritage Site of Ayuthhaya and 2010 floods in Pakistan affected many archaeological sites and vernacular settlements along River Indus. Fires have also caused irreplaceable damage to cultural heritage as seen in the case of Wangduephodrang Dzong in Bhutan and City Palace Museum in Jaipur, India. We are all aware of the destruction of cultural heritage seen in the conflict prone areas in the Middle East. As exemplified through these incidents, cultural heritage is confronted with various kinds of disaster risks, due to natural hazards such as floods, fires, earthquakes etc. as well as human induced events such as terrorism, vandalism, armed conflict and arson. As a result, many cultural heritage sites including those on the World Heritage List have been significantly damaged in the recent years.

Historic areas and their territorial settings are irreplaceable and highly complex cultural resources that have evolved over time and contain various heritage components and systems such as traditional housing, public buildings, urban spaces, ecological features such as water systems and intangible components such as rituals and social activities that have sustained these areas for generations.

However these historic areas and their settings are becoming increasingly fragile due to rapid pace of urbanisation and unprecedented transformation processes that have posed grave risks to their heritage values and have increased their vulnerability to natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, floods and fires.

The theme of 11th International Training Course is Protecting cultural heritage from climate change induced disaster risks.

Climate change is increasing the frequency of disasters caused by hydro-meteorological events such as heavy rainfall, flash floods, cyclones, typhoons and storm surges. As a result, many heritage sites located in global hot spots such as coastal areas especially below sea level are exposed to risks of inundation greater than ever before. Also there might be low frequency high intensity incidents of flooding that may trigger landslides along mountain slopes. Moreover climate change is resulting in higher temperatures are also resulting increased incidents of wild fires putting cultural heritage located in forested areas to greater risk than ever before. These hazards are adversely impacting peoples’ safety, livelihoods as well as values associated with cultural heritage. The increased vulnerability and exposure of cultural heritage to these climate related hazards and potential scenarios will impact various typologies of cultural heritages in the future.

Background of the Training Programme
A thematic meeting on Cultural Heritage Risk Management was held in Kobe, Japan, in January 2005, as part of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR). The meeting adopted a declaration that recognized the close relationship between the protection of cultural heritage and socio-economic development.

In response to the recommendations of the Conference, R-DMUCH has been acting as a focal point for organizing international research, training and information network in the field of cultural heritage risk management and disaster mitigation.

The past training courses has been participated by 99 participants in total from 46countries; East Asia (Indonesia, South Korea, China, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand), South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives), Oceania (Palau, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia), Central and South America (Peru, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras, Haiti and Chile), Europe (Serbia, Moldova, Italy, Albania, Croatia and Netherlands), Middle East (Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Palestine), Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria Tanzania, Egypt and Ghana).


The main objective of the course is to provide an overview of the various aspects of disaster risk management of cultural heritage. In particular, the course provides interdisciplinary training to:

  • Undertake an integrated risk assessment of cultural heritage;
  • Build an integrated system for disaster risk management of cultural heritage, incorporating mitigation, adaptation, preparedness, response and recovery measures;
  • Formulate risk management plans for cultural heritage that correspond to the urban and regional disaster management plans and policies; and
  • Establish an international scientific support network for risk management of cultural heritage in order to build the institutional capacity needed to formulate comprehensive risk management plans that are based on the characteristics of cultural heritage and nature of hazards in the regional and national context.

Target Audience of the Course:

  • Heritage Professionals
  • Disaster Risk Management Professionals
  • Urban Practitioners
  • Administrators and Policy Makers
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Post Graduate Researchers

Structure of the Course:

The training course would include classroom lectures, field based learning through site visits and practical demonstrations at the Cultural Heritage Sites in Kyoto, Kobe and Sasayama, along with workshops, team projects, discussions and individual/group presentations.

The participants are supposed to work in multidisciplinary teams to learn the principles and practical know-how for balancing disaster risk management and climate change adaptation measures with those needed for conserving the values of cultural heritage. These would help towards disaster risk management of cultural heritage sites by taking into consideration the nature of cultural heritage and the socio-economic and institutional context of respective countries of participants.

During the course, R-DMUCH will also provide various kinds of academic support to the participants to help them develop risk management plans for particular cultural heritage sites in their home countries. Therefore each participant will select one cultural heritage site in his/her respective country before attending the course.