World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) and Tokyo based Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Hub conducted a five-day Technical Deep Dive in coordination with City of Kyoto, UNESCO, Ritsumeikan University, UNWTO, and Cultural Affairs Agency, and discussed deeply on the resilience of cultural heritage assets against natural and human-made disaster. This was the eighth TDD that TDLC organized to offer first-hand knowledge exchange opportunities for World Bank clients. Approximately 45 participants from about 9 countries including Albania, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Uzbekistan presented and actively shared their challenges and experiences through presentations, site visits and discussions in Tokyo and Kyoto.
“There is no better place than Japan for agenda of resilience, cultural heritage, and integration of both,” noted Sameh Naguib Wahba, Director of GSURR of the World Bank, claiming the importance of this active learning opportunity that link Japanese expertise with project-level engagements in developing countries. Sameh also introduced UNESCO as a very important partner for cultural heritage and sustainable development.
Types of disasters that countries face vary from country to country such as the Philippines and Myanmar with flooding and earthquake, China caused by rapid urbanization, and Tanzania with man-made disasters. However, there are some common challenges that they are facing including insufficient planning against disasters, inefficient coordination of the institutions, lack of finance, low in public awareness, lack of maintenance, etc.
Participants learned how Japan has faced a number of natural disasters in different forms such as earthquakes, typhoons and flooding, and among them, participants visited Kiyomizu Temple, which experienced a number of fires in the past. The priest of the temple insisted that although security sensors, cameras and hydrant units have been installed in the area, the key to conservation and prevention of disasters is “people.” The residents around the temple well understand the risks, being involved in risk management, and developed their own resilient culture.
Giovanni Boccardi, Chief of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit, Heritage Division, Culture Sector of UNESCO in his Keynote Talk pointed out the lack of a strong policy against disaster preparation. “The challenge is to integrate risk management within site management and systems. This is not about making separate DRM plans, it is about linking the DRM and cultural heritage aspects,” he said.
The aspect of sustainable tourism was also discussed during the session. Tourism and cultural heritage are strongly connected. Tourism is one of the fastest growing socio-economic industries in the world. However, it can also cause negative effects such as damage to the heritage. “Disaster preparedness must be incorporated into Cultural Heritage and Tourism (CHT), and on the other hand, DRM plans must include CHT as an important element,” said Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Deputy Director of the Heritage Division and the World Heritage Centre, Culture Sector of UNESCO. Raising awareness and training, well planned prevention and mitigation method incorporated in the management plan was raised as a countermeasure.
Participants consolidated their action plans and presented them at the end of this intense 5-day event. The major takeaways raised during the presentation were raising awareness, planning good regulatory framework, policy revision, and coordination of national and local authorities. Assistance of experts on the integration of DRM into conservation plans and urban heritage was also mentioned by some clients.