UNESCO calls for international cooperation for cultural heritage at risk

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From 26 to 28 February 2020, the international expert conference “Fostering European Cooperation for Cultural Heritage at Risk” was held in the Lazaretti in Dubrovnik, Croatia. As one of the two central events on culture during the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, this conference intended to generate discussion about how to tackle the increasing threats to cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible as well as on how to foster collaborative decision-making in risk management of cultural heritage.

Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director for UNESCO Culture and Emergencies, participated in the conference and contributed to the panel discussions among representatives from the 27 EU Member States, the European Commission, experts and other stakeholders.

In her opening speech, Nina Obuljen-Koržinek, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, reminded the long history of the city of Dubrovnik in protecting and reconstructing cultural heritage at risk, while underlining the importance of looking for methodology and approaches to respond to the needs of conservation and reconstruction practices of today. In this regard, she stressed international solidarity at both EU and international level to build capacity and raise awareness. She also highlighted the necessity of coordinated actions among experts in order to ensure the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

The risk management is not only about cultural emergency, but also about the protection of the symbol of the community affected

Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director for Culture and Emergencies, UNESCO

Following her speech, Lazare Eloundou addressed the panel discussion on Are we ready? Advances in policy and new perspectives on risk prevention and preparedness. He emphasised that cultural heritage was still undergoing pressing challenges around the world today. However, “the risk management is not only about cultural emergency, but also about the protection of the symbol of the community affected,” underlined Eloundou. He enumerated several EU-UNESCO partnership projects, such as in Mali, Iraq and Yemen, to illustrate how UNESCO, along with the European Union, is contributing to the protection and reconstruction of cultural heritage in crisis and to the promotion of cultural pluralism for resilience and recovery of the local community.

In the concluding panel on Risk management in cultural heritage: preserving common values, the UNESCO representative advocated for having a people-centred approach and for involving more young people in future preservation actions of cultural heritage, because communities and people are the source of the resilience for cultural heritage. He also called for more effective and coordinated international cooperation in the area of the conservation of cultural heritage at risk.

This international expert conference will provide insights for the upcoming EU Council conclusions on the improvement of risk management in the field of cultural heritage to be adopted in May 2020. For more information about the conference, please visit the website of the EU Croatian Presidency.

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