06.04.2017 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Enhancing Institutional Capacity in Reducing Risks of Heritage Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific

PENANG, 5 APRIL 2017. UNESCO Office Jakarta and UNESCO Apia Office in cooperation with George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) and ICCROM organise an Inception Workshop to officially start a series of activities proposed under the project framework entitled “Capacity Building for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) of Heritage Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific”, from 5 - 6 April 2017 at the Bayview George Town Hotel in Penang, Malaysia.

As the first activity under this project, the inception workshop aims to gather representatives from three heritage cities to share experiences as well as challenges in implementing disaster risk reduction efforts in each site, and to develop strategic direction, partnership and timeframe in order to achieve the goals as well as ensure coherence among different activities foreseen under this project.  Moreover, by gathering representatives in this inception workshop, the forum expects to create a network of professionals amongst the three participating heritage cities.

Three heritage cities have been selected as the pilot sites under this project, namely: 1) Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca (Malaysia), 2) Jakarta Old Town (Indonesia), and 3) Levuka Historical Port Town (Fiji). Funded by the Government of Malaysia under the Malaysia-UNESCO Cooperation Programme (MUCP), the overall objective of the project is to build capacity for DRR of heritage cities in SEA and Pacific SIDS with a view to developing DRR strategies and integrate them into the overall heritage management plan of heritage cities. The project will consist of several activities, which expect to achieve these two results: 1) to enhance the capacity of stakeholders involved in DRR of heritage cities in Southeast Asia and Pacific, and 2) to empower communities living in heritage cities through the improved management plans including DRR strategies.

This inception workshop will be followed by a national workshop for the development of DRR plan/strategy in each participating heritage cities (Levuka, George Town and Melaka, Kota Tua) as well as development of web-based communication platform and production of tool kits to raise community awareness on DRR in heritage cities.

Mohd Khairul Adib bin Abdul Rahman, Secretary General of Malaysian National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM) stated that the Government of Malaysia is committed to continually support and contribute to UNESCO’s aspirations, utilising the Malaysia Funds-in-Trust. The Malaysian NATCOM is aware of the differing realities of varying countries and the challenges that lie ahead. But Malaysian NATCOM also believes that we should face these challenges together, guided by values, principles of genuine, sincere engagement and collaboration. Today’s inception workshop will provide a platform to share knowledge, best practices and experience amongst the three countries. It will also produce solid basis for formulating strategies for each participating site.

Bernards A. Zako, Head of Culture Unit UNESCO Office Jakarta expressed his sincere appreciation to the Malaysian National Commission for its support and involvement in the implementation of the project and to the George Town World Heritage Incorporated as well as the Melaka World Heritage Office for their leadership and commitment in protecting and safeguarding the two Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca. Regarding the project, he added: “World heritage properties and heritage sites in general in Asia and the Pacific are exposed to disasters that threaten their integrity as well as their cultural and socio-economic value. The loss or deterioration of cultural properties can also dramatically affect the local communities. We hope that this project – generously financed by Malaysia Funds-in-Trust and brings together internationally renowned experts and specialists of heritage cities from Asia and the Pacific – will allow to share experience and take concrete steps to reduce disaster risks in the region.“
Dr Ang Ming Chee, General Manager of George Town World Heritage Incorporated
George Town World Heritage Site has achieved significant milestone in the conservation of tangible heritage as well as in safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage. This workshop provides the opportunity for us to develop strategic partnership with national and international agencies, as well as with the communities, in enhancing our capacity in reducing disaster risks of heritage cities.

Stefano De Caro, Director-General of ICCROM
“Protecting cultural heritage from the growing threat of climate change-induced disasters is one of the key strategic orientations of ICCROM, which will guide its work and alliances worldwide. Our partnership with UNESCO to develop institutional capacities for disaster risk reduction of heritage cities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region is therefore an important step forward. I congratulate the Government of Malaysia, UNESCO Jakarta office, and the participating cities for initiating this multi-layered project that will help to identify strategies for both disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for endangered historic cities.”

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