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Heritage, Disaster Response and Resilience

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Brief Report from the UK National Commission for UNESCO and PRAXIS at the University of Leeds. Session held on Tuesday 23rd February 2021.

Disasters have significant physical, environmental, economic, cultural and social impacts, including the loss of lives and livelihoods, detrimental effects on buildings and infrastructure, and displacement of communities, as well as the destruction, damage, and fragmentation of (tangible and intangible) heritage. This session explored the role of heritage in risk preparedness, disaster response and recovery, but also in the long-term planning for disaster risk management.

It also focused on how heritage can be used to better strengthen communities’ resilience, an integral part of sustainable development.

KEY INSIGHTS

ONE. Heritage – cultural and natural, tangible and intangible – is an invaluable resource for emergency preparedness and recovery.

It can support the implementation of multi-dimensional and integrated approaches for disaster risk planning, assessment, management and response. The use of traditional knowledge, building techniques, materials and management practices can ensure more sustainable responses in reconstruction and recovery processes. Built heritage, like churches and temples, can also offer refuge to displaced and evacuated people.

TWO. The effectiveness of disaster resilience and recovery depends heavily on the implementation of inclusive, locally and culturally appropriate approaches.

Local communities can support cohesive and adaptive practices and cultural responses to cope with disasters and climate-induced hazards and foster resilience. Local communities can support cohesive and adaptive practices and cultural responses to cope with disasters and climate-induced hazards and foster resilience. Preparedness and recovery efforts can be more effective, sustainable and durable when they are inclusive and tailored to the local cultural context and social environment.