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Disaster Risk Management for Human Security: Issues, Challenges and Prospects of Southeast Asia’s Rivers and Adjacent Landscapes

In the 13th SPAFA SESH titled “Disaster Risk Management for Human Security: Issues, Challenges and Prospects of Southeast Asia’s Rivers and Adjacent Landscapes” moderated by Hatthaya Siriphatthanakun (SEAMEO SPAFA’s Specialist in Cultural Heritage Conservation), SPAFA Intern Kenneth J. Tua presented his internship conclusion presentation and was joined by two panelists to discuss the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) issues, challenges and prospects on Southeast Asian Rivers. The talk, which was broadcast live on SPAFA’s Facebook and on Zoom on 7 July 2021, covered case studies showing a broader scope of correlated impacts within the Human Security spectrum emphasizing Socio-Cultural Security of Cultural Heritage.

Arch’t. Kenneth J. Tua, Postgraduate Researcher and Intern of SPAFA, shared his research on “Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage for Human Security: Issues, Challenges and Prospects of Southeast Asia’s Rivers and Adjacent Landscapes”. The Correlated Impacts and Challenges (CIC) in the region heighten disaster risks of cultural heritage as a result of the effect of Climate Change. Some of the CIC are Displacement and Migration (DM), Flash Flood and Flooding (FFF), and Landscape Degradation (LD) which the region’s cultural heritage is mostly affected by. Although the Correlated Issues and Challenges (CIC) are present at its own state, most of the risk occurrences are rooted from the Infrastructure Project Impact (IPI) such as effects brought by bridges, dams, promenade, walls, and other related infrastructure construction and expansion. The findings also showed that there is an approximation of at least 54.81% to 83.83% max correlation of the impacts of the hazards and climate change to the cultural heritage. Furthermore, the data indicates that human security is simultaneously affected in the destruction of cultural heritage resulting to negative cultural change and livelihood disruption having 86.76% relativity. Ultimately, the speaker concluded that Cultural Security and Social Security are aspects of Human Security that must be taken into consideration holistically in its own form; it must be dealt abreast as Socio – Cultural Security to amplify each security’s significance and magnitude. Identifying and emphasizing the socio-cultural security aspects in the protection of Cultural Heritage Realm through DRM with Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) is vital in the process of cultural sustainability, and moderating and shaping human development in the Southeast Asia region.

Dr. Rohit Jigyasu, Project Manager on Urban heritage, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome, Italy, joined the webinar as one of two panelists. Dr. Jigyasu provided his perspective by first stating that the research has given Disaster Risk Management (DRM) a step forward and opened a door to question a lot of established practices. Executing DRM on the Cultural side only is not going to reduce the vulnerability of the site in the long run implicating there is a need to look at the territory as a whole because there are a lot of things happening in the surroundings like change in ecology, construction of infrastructures etc. which are going to have impact on heritage. He further said the research brings connectivity back and demonstrates that considerations should be together beyond the boundaries of heritage sites. In addition, he emphasized that rivers should not be seen in isolation but rather as part of a bigger system. The moment we start to separate the interventions for rivers by dividing it rather than viewing it as a whole, interconnected parts may be dismissed as not being a major problem. Therefore, we should not look at rivers as rivers only but as a whole ecological system where cultural aspects are embedded. Another problem is that an ecosystem normally only looks at nature but, in his view, it should be looked at both nature and the culture and how it overlaps; that approach will be more useful and holistic thus creating better solutions. He recommended to work with non-heritage sectors such as the environment and development sectors because these sectors have been thinking a lot about this but not in heritage perspectives. The research can continue through synergy and creation of inter-sectoral interventions and common tools.

Dr. Danai Thaitakoo, Professor for the Department of Landscape Architecture, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, was another distinguished panelist. He agreed on the correlation between nature and culture. He said landscapes should be looked at as a whole beyond the site boundaries and commented that research should not only look at the natural, built, and human patterns but also the processes behind each of them. Nature and culture cannot be separated in terms of the rivers since human settlements were actually built upon the landscape which started the product of the nature and human engagement forming the natural heritage and thereby creating a bridge to cultural heritage. Understanding the dynamics and relationships are crucial in identifying issues like disasters and climate change. He gave the example that flooding is not always a negative phenomenon but in the wrong place and at the wrong time, something beneficial to the agricultural sector can become a disaster for the landscape. Over a period of time, people start to forget on what you build upon originally and the relationship between human and nature becomes different with a disregard to the dynamics. Human-induced changes create these kinds of disasters. The point is, “Are we understanding the process and dynamics, and do we put ourselves in that kind of risks?” It’s important to understand the alluvial plain, floodplains and riverscapes and the like, and the changes happening within our environment. He added that we tend to forget and build these expansions then have these kinds of disaster risks related problems. We need to find the original problem and where it came from but sometimes it is hard because we cannot touch them due to some factors. Carefully understanding the overlaying factors and finding the connection between humans and the river is important in building the built environment of today.

The lessons learnt from this SPAFA SESH, in connection to Non-Traditional Security threats (NTS), the natural hazards, human–induced related hazards and climate change are transitioning and becoming the 21st century Traditional Security threats (TS) due to its frequent recurrences and increasing grave effects to human development. It is becoming more evident for the Southeast Asia region and we have learned in this webinar the significance of highlighting Social Security and Cultural Security in our DRM interventions and executing solutions to Cultural Heritage amidst these disastrous phenomena.

If you watched the SPAFA SESH “Disaster Risk Management for Human Security: Issues, Challenges and Prospects of Southeast Asia’s Rivers and Adjacent Landscapes”, please complete the questionnaire (approximately 5 minutes) to help us improve future SPAFA SESHes: https://bit.ly/evaluation-sesh13-SEA-rivers-landscape

Disaster Risk Management for Human Security: Issues, Challenges and Prospects of Southeast Asia’s Rivers and Adjacent Landscapes

Date: 7 July 2021

Time: 2 PM (BKK time) / 3 PM (Manila time)

Online Platform: Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/seameo.spafa/ and on *Zoom. *(Please register at: http://bit.ly/register-spafa-sesh13-DRM-SEA-rivers)

In the SPAFA SESH on “Issues, Challenges and Prospects of Southeast Asia’s Rivers and Adjacent Landscapes”, Kenneth Tua, a Postgraduate Researcher – Intern of SPAFA and EMJMD DYCLAM+, will share his research on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage for Human Security in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region through the analysis of the following SEA countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.


  1. Rohit Jigyasu, ICCROM
  2. Danai Thaitakoo, Chulalongkorn University

Moderated by Hatthaya Siriphatthanakun, SEAMEO SPAFA Specialist in Heritage Conservation

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