International and national initiatives

Since 2010, UNISDR and partners have mobilized a political commitment to building resilience through the Making Cities Resilient Campaign and have so far engaged over 2,500 cities that have committed to implement the Ten Essentials for building resilience. These Ten Essentials are outlined in Table 23.1.

The Fourth Essential calls for resilient urban development and design. Cultural heritage is recognized as a source of urban resilience and a system for the risk-sensitive protection of cultural heritage assets in the city is strongly recommended as part of this Essential. This would necessitate the following measures:

  • • Legislation and/or policies for the risk-sensitive protection of cultural heritage assets in a city (regional/national territory).
  • • Guidelines for the protection and retrofitting of cultural heritage assets (for all relevant hazards and climate change).
  • • Preparation of disaster risk maps for cultural heritage assets.
  • • Risk monitoring system especially tailored for cultural heritage assets.
  • • Legal and financial instruments and incentives that facilitate the protection/retrofitting/maintenance of cultural assets.
  • • Allocation of budget provided for maintaining and protecting cultural heritage.

The Handbook for Local Government Leaders, developed as part of the campaign, makes specific reference to the importance of protecting cultural heritage as part of the campaign. The handbook gives an example of the work being carried out by the city’ of Venice to protect it from flood inundation.

Table 23.1 Ten essentials for making cities resilient.

  • 1. Put in place organization and coordination to understand and reduce disaster risk, based on participation of citizen groups and civil society. Build local alliances. Ensure that all departments understand their role in disaster risk reduction and preparedness.
  • 2. Assign a budget for disaster risk reduction and provide incentives for homeowners, low income families, communities, businesses and the public sector to invest in reducing the risks they face.
  • 3. Maintain up to date data on hazards and vulnerabilities. Prepare risk assessments and use these as the basis for urban development plans and decisions, ensure that this information and the plans for your city’s resilience are readily available to the public and fully discussed with them.
  • 4. Invest in and maintain critical infrastructure that reduces risk, such as flood drainage, adjusted where needed to cope with climate change.
  • 5. Assess the safety of all schools and health facilities and upgrade these as necessary.
  • 6. Apply and enforce realistic, risk compliant building regulations and land use planning principles. Identify safe land for low income citizens and upgrade informal settlements, wherever feasible.
  • 7. Ensure that education programmes and training on disaster risk reduction are in place in schools and local communities.
  • 8. Protect ecosystems and natural buffers to mitigate floods, storm surges and other hazards to which your city may be vulnerable. Adapt to climate change by building on good risk reduction practices.
  • 9. Install early warning systems and emergency management capacities in your city and hold regular public preparedness drills.
  • 10. After any disaster, ensure that the needs of the affected population are placed at the centre of reconstruction, with support for them and their community organizations to design and help implement responses, including rebuilding homes and livelihoods.

Source: UNISDR (2012)

A flood defence system is being developed that comprises a system of barriers that can be raised from the bottom of the lagoon to protect the city during storm surges (UNISDR 2012).

Ute Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction adopted in 2015 clearly recognizes culture as a key dimension of disaster risk reduction and the need to protect and draw on heritage as an asset for resilience through a number of important references. The challenge is to implement this policy, which requires considerable building of capacities at international, national and local levels and the setting up of the necessary institutional mechanisms, complemented by data collection and monitoring (Dean and Boccardi 2015).

It needs to be emphasized that heritage concerns need to be included in existing urban vulnerability reduction programmes at the national level. Here, I would like to cite the example of India where thirtyeight cities including many historic ones have been taken up as part of the nationwide Urban Earthquake Vulnerability Reduction Project (UEVRP) initiated by UNDP and Ministry' of Home Affairs, Government of India. The programme is aimed at the sustainable reduction in earthquake risk in the most earth-quake-prone urban areas across the country, creating awareness among government civil servants, technical institutions, NGOs, community-based organizations (GBOs) and communities about the following: earthquake vulnerability' and possible preventive actions, developing and institutionalising earthquake preparedness and response plans, and practise these through mock drills; developing a technical-legal regulatory framework to promote safe construction and systems to ensure compliance; providing capacity building for certification by' government civil servants and professionals (engineers and architects); and promote information-sharing on best practices and tools for effective earthquake risk management, including the creation of information systems containing inventory of resources for emergency operations (UNDP/India 2013). Heritage concerns need to be included in each of the above-mentioned goals of the programme.

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