Heritage & Conservation Collaborations

Disaster Risk Management for Cultural Heritage in Southeast Asia: The 1st Training Workshop on Post-Disaster Recovery for the Living Archaeological Urban Complex (14-20 March 2018), Bagan, Myanmar

Programme Category: Conservation in the Tropics

Type/Category: Workshop/Conservation and Collaboration

Date/Duration: 14-20 March 2018

Venue: Bagan, Myanmar

The Southeast Asian region is home to invaluable and significant forms of cultural heritage, ranging from the tangible, such as collections of antiques and objects, ancient monuments, archaeological sites, historic buildings, towns, cities and cultural landscapes, to the intangible, such as customs, relics, music, craftsmanship and traditional lifestyles. In recent years, unpredictable natural disasters, such as flooding, tsunamis, earthquakes, fires and tropical storms have affected the region’s cultural heritage. Human actions such as tourism, economic development and urban expansion are also making a dramatic impact on heritage. These hazards can affect heritage at various levels, both locally and regionally. Whether natural or human-induced, disasters affect the physical condition and intangible aspects of heritage. As a result, intervention and action are needed to help protect the region’s heritage. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to restore heritage to its original state, and sometimes the damage is irreversible. As a result, disaster risk prevention and impact mitigation in regards to cultural heritage management are urgently needed.

In 2016, a consultative meeting on “Developing Capacity-Building Activities on Disaster Risk Management for Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage” was held in Bangkok on 19-21 April 2016, during which various case studies on disaster risk management in the region were presented and discussed by various experts in order to identify the needs of the Southeast Asian region in the protection of its heritage from both natural and human-induced disasters. The meeting was followed by the August 2016 earthquake that seriously affected Bagan, the most important and globally renowned archaeological complex in Myanmar, for which plans to have it inscribed on the World Heritage List by 2017 have already begun. This disaster emphasized the vulnerability of heritage in Southeast Asia in regards to natural disasters, and recalled the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

As a result, SEAMEO SPAFA in collaboration with Institute of Disaster Risk Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University (R-DMUCH) and International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) proposed to develop and conduct training workshops on disaster risk management. At least three training workshops have been included in SEAMEO SPAFAS’s 7th Five-Year Development Plan, each of which are to be held at selected Southeast Asian historic sites/cities comprising various types of cultural heritage. The theme of each training workshop will be developed according to the circumstance at the time when the activities are being organized, while the comprehensive heritage typology will be considered as one of the criteria in the selection of the workshop venues. Therefore, the first training workshop will be conducted at Bagan on the theme of post-disaster recovery for the living urban archaeological complex. The issue of disaster risk management focusing on post-disaster measures will be raised so that the recent experience from Myanmar can be shared and learnt. The training workshop also will include capacity-building activities for Myanmar conservation practitioners in return for their hosting efforts. In addition, the workshop will raise various globally discussed issues in heritage conservation that can be identified in Bagan, such as living heritage, value-based management, archaeological heritage management, urban conservation and intangible aspects of cultural heritage.

1) Raising awareness on disaster risk and its impact to cultural heritage in Southeast Asian countries
2) Promoting disaster risk management as part of cultural heritage conservation
3) Providing the fundamental principles in cultural heritage conservation and disaster risk management for cultural heritage
4) Harnessing traditional knowledge and local wisdom for the elaboration of risk mitigation measures
5) Establishing a Southeast Asian and international network of collaboration in disaster risk management

The training workshop will comprise two main parts:
1) Interactive lectures by resource persons who have longstanding experience in cultural heritage conservation and disaster risk management for cultural heritage at regional and international levels, i.e. experts from ICCROM, the International Council of Monuments and Sites – International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICOMOS-ICORP), as these institutions played major roles in post-disaster recovery, such as the 2015 and 2016 earthquakes in Nepal and Bagan respectively, and the 2011 severe flooding in Thailand and tsunami in Japan;
2) On-site workshop activities, including field exercises in ancient Bagan, and various assignments adapted from the methodologies developed by R-DMUCH and ICCROM.
The contents of this training workshop will be an interdisciplinary endeavour combining cultural heritage conservation and disaster risk management.

1) Acquired knowledge and skills in Disaster Risk Management to be included conservation plans / site management systems for cultural heritage, addressing SDG#13 “Climate Change” on improving education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on impact reduction, and SEAMEO Priority Area 3 “Building resiliency in the face of emergencies”
2) Opportunity for the transmission of knowledge and skills in DRM for heritage conservation among the participants’ peers in their home countries
3) Mitigation of disaster impacts and/or damages to cultural heritage, addressing SDG#11 “Sustainable cities and communities” on strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural heritage

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