Disaster Risk Reduction of Cultural Heritage and Institutions

(c)National Archives of Fiji

The Pacific SIDS are vulnerable to natural hazards such as cyclones, earthquakes, and tunamis and increasingly affected by climate change impacts. The leaders in Pacific SIDS have thus identified Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as priority both at national and regional levels.  

The Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030 adopted in March 2015 emphasized the importance of DRR of cultural heritage and institutions as well as the role played by indigenous/traditional/local knowledge in DRR.

Over the years, UNESCO in Apia has provided assistance in the assessment of loss and damages related to the culture sector for Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) conducted after disasters in Pacific SIDS. Following the UN/WB Guidelines, the chapter on culture has been included in the following PDNAs;

- PDNA following the cyclone Evan in Samoa (2012)

- PDNA following the cyclone Pam in Vanuatu (2015)

- PDNA following the cyclone Winston in Fiji (2016) 

The First Regional Training Course on Disaster Risk Reduction of Cultural Heritage was held in Port Vila, October 2015.

Building on the above, a Preparatory Meeting on the Establishment of Blue Shield Pasifika was held at the National Archives of Fiji in Suva in April 2016.  This Meeting resulted in the establishment of an interim Blue Shield Pasifika. Blue Shield is the name of special emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention, and also the name of a coalition of NGOs addressing DRR of cultural heritage and institutions in relation to both natural and human-induced disasters. 

In cooperation with BSP, UNESCO organised a thematic session on Build Back Better (BBB) and Heritage Safeguarding Strategy for the Well-being of Community in the Pacific at the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management (Suva, Fiji, 24 - 26 October 2016).  The session aims to enhance understanding of BBB strategy in particular its link to the tangible, intangible and natural heritage including indigenous/traditional architectures which are often outside the housing sector regulations by SIDS government.  The Outcome of the Platform includes the statement recommending that BBB and safer principles integrate cultural dimensions and knowledge including in the areas of non-engineered and heritage architecture, intangible skills and environmental sustainability to bolster the resilience of infrastructure, societies and communities in the Pacific.

In November 2016, the first Pacific Workshop on the Hague Convention and its Protocols was held in Suva, Fiji.

- Final report of the Pacific Workshop

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