Central America joins efforts of the region to prepare for risk management in relation to cultural heritage

Latin American and Caribbean countries exchanged knowledge and experiences on the relationship between disaster risk reduction and the protection of cultural heritage to strengthen the resilience of cities. This exchange took place virtually, on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at the Learning Lab on Heritage Management and Disaster Risk Reduction as part of the VII Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas and the Caribbean, hosted by Jamaica.

This Learning Laboratory was organized by UNESCO, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), with support from AECOM of the University ‘G. d’Annunzio’ of Chieti-Pescara (Italy). Around 40 representatives of the emergency response and cultural heritage management sectors from multiple countries in the region participated in the testing of the Scorecard (an indicator tool) for integrating cultural heritage protection into disaster risk reduction strategies.

This learning space allowed for the presentation of the Scorecard and a practical exercise to test it. During the session, representatives of national or sub-regional institutions presented local experiences that reflect the implementation of mechanisms to overcome a situation related to cultural heritage management and disaster risk reduction. Presentations were made by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport of Jamaica, the Directorate of Culture of the Department of Piura, Peru, and the Central American Educational and Cultural Coordination of the Central American Integration System (CECC/SICA).

Ms. Raquel Núñez, Technical Director of CECC/SICA presented the mechanisms established in the SICA Region – composed of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic – to include culture in regional risk management strategies. Subsequently, participants completed a survey to evaluate the relationship between these mechanisms and the proposed indicator tools, in aspects such as community participation and the strategy’s contribution to sustainable development.

Culture, including cultural heritage – both tangible and intangible – as well as cultural and creative industries, can be vulnerable to the adverse impacts of disasters and climate change, particularly in contexts where urban planning has overlooked cultural heritage. Likewise, in post-disaster situations, culture plays a key role in the recovery of affected communities by reinforcing identity and social cohesion and inclusion. For this reason, it is necessary to increase awareness of the need to link culture with DRR strategies and plans at local, national, and regional levels.

 

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