Heritage delegates gather in Malta for UNESCO disaster management training
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Heritage delegates gather in Malta for UNESCO disaster management training

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A collaboration of UNESCO groups gathered in Malta last month to deliver training in disaster risk reduction principles, also incorporating heritage professionals in the body’s management plans for cultural heritage sites.

Made up of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (RBSCE), the Section on Earth Sciences and Geo-Hazards Risk Reduction (SESGRR), Natural Sciences Sector (NSS) of UNESCO, and the Maltese National Commission for UNESCO (MNC), the organisation brought together heritage experts, site managers and emergency responders from the South-East European and Mediterranean regions for the workshop sessions.

During the six-day event, which took place between 14-19 November, participants were taught preparatory measures to help mitigate or effectively reduce the impact of natural disasters, which in the long run will help to avoid high expenditure in the response and post-disaster recovery stage.

UNESCO’s panel of experts also discussed how heritage itself can contribute to reducing the effect of natural disasters and how cultural properties can serve as safe havens during emergencies, as well as act as focal point in a community during recovery.

Using Malta’s two world heritage sites as examples – the City of Valletta and the Megalithic Temples – the workshops adopted a participatory methodology and a special focus based in the 2007 World Heritage Committee’s ‘Strategy for Reducing Risks from Disasters at World Heritage Properties’, which encourages all nations to develop disaster risk management plans for World Heritage properties in their respective countries.

The closing session, led by professor Henry Frendo, Philip Cassar of the MNC, and John Agius, director of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Directorate, helped attendees identify both direct and indirect impacts from natural disaster, focusing on what prevention measures a disaster management plan should include along with appropriate response plans.

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A collaboration of UNESCO groups gathered in Malta last month to deliver training in disaster risk reduction principles, also incorporating heritage professionals in the body’s management plans for cultural heritage sites.
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