In March 2015, at the Third World UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, the group offering the session Resilient Cultural Heritage was hard at work. The goal of the conference was to revisit and enhance the ten-year-old formal framework for disaster risk reduction. New revisions would build on past successes and fill gaps in knowledge and implementation that had been identified over the past ten years. The Resilient Cultural Heritage session, which featured the Smithsonian as one of the panel members, provided a vision for the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage in disasters and conflicts and promoted its recognition as an important element of community resilience and local development.

The session offered examples of how cultural heritage provides important insights and opportunities for enhancing disaster risk reduction and post-disaster rehabilitation and recovery. It also focused on how cultural heritage helps communities rebuild and stimulate local economic and social development. Because of this important work, the 2015–2030 Sendai Framework strongly calls upon States to incorporate protection of their cultural heritage through the formal framework. It recommends that States “identify ways to integrate disaster risk reduction into the management plans of cultural heritage sites and collecting institutions and other sites of historical, cultural heritage and religious interest.”

WCDRR panel

Erika Hedhammar CC BY