SHELTER Project fosters Disaster Risk Resilient Communities of the Future: Sava River Basin Open Lab Case

Over the last decades, as a consequence of the effects of climate change, Cultural Heritage has been impacted by an increasing number of climate related hazards, posing new challenges to conservators and heritage managers. SHELTER - Sustainable Historic Environments hoListic reconstruction through Technological Enhancement and community-based Resilience brings together the scientific community and heritage managers with the objective of increasing resilience, reducing vulnerability and promoting better and safer reconstruction in Historic Areas. After celebrating the achievements of its first 18 months at its fourth General Assembly, the SHELTER consortium submitted successfully its first periodic technical report, passing the European review. Key issues on potential collaborations and interactions with two sister projects ARCH and HYPERION were identified, focusing on different case studies and their activities.

SHELTER - Sustainable Historic Environments hoListic reconstruction through Technological Enhancement and community-based Resilience aims at developing a data-driven and community-based operational knowledge framework that will bring heritage managers and the scientific community together, intending to increase resilience, reducing vulnerability and promoting better and safer reconstruction in historic areas to cope with climate change and natural hazards. The SHELTER project has received funding from the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.

Before submitting its first periodic technical report, the SHELTER consortium had the opportunity to review the progress of the SHELTER project’s halfway mark and collect inputs from all partners during its 4th General Assembly in January 2021, online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Shelter partners invited the consortia of the twin EU Horizon 2020 projects ARCH and HYPERION to discuss ways for potential synergies and collaboration opportunities between the case studies. The knowledge-sharing session found some good-shared practices among the partners such as the implementation of modern monitoring tools, effective communication through hazard resilience value-chain, and increasing citizen engagement and awareness, which could be effectively disseminated through the project’s stakeholders.

UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe shared its own experience in organising workshops to support capacity building and knowledge transfer on UNESCO sites management. ARCH and HYPERION partners will participate and share results at the final SHELTER project conference, which will take place in Venice, Italy.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing lie at the core of projects such as SHELTER, and are undoubtedly critical in the pursuit of the overall goal with different partners and stakeholders. Subsequently this year, two ground-breaking initiatives have been introduced by the project. Firstly, a platform called SHELTER Wiki has been created to provide a common space to share core definitions and materials. Secondly, the Data Lake still in beta version, functions as a web heterogeneous, geospatial, non-geospatial data repository aimed at collecting both existing social knowledge and the knowledge generated within the project. In accordance with all the relevant data principles, the Data Lake is designed for storage and retrieval of big heterogeneous data.

In the meeting, the development of the project within the 5 Open Labs was highlighted, as the Open Labs represent the main climatic and environmental challenges in Europe and different heritage typologies. Additionally, their coordinators presented the main outputs of recent workshops and co-creation exercise results of group and self-assessments of adaptation and recovery tools. It was imperative to note the methodology and tools developed by the project technical partners in these respective areas.

UNESCO’s operational involvement in the project, ensured through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, includes coordinating the Sava Open Lab with the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC). The Sava River Basin is a major transboundary river catchment of South-East Europe, where all the key stakeholders are developing disaster risk management governance tools to test how cooperation among regions and institutions can bring effective solutions against flooding events protecting cultural heritage.

Briefing on the current progress at the Sava River Basin Open Lab, Mirza Sarač, the ISRBC Advisor for protection against detrimental effects from waters and extraordinary impacts on the water regime, stated; “We collected data on culture heritage laying in flood prone areas: 1,271 culture heritage assets were collected, 1,168 of them were already harmonised in Sava GIS. We plan the second cycle of data collection based on risk management data. We are also happy to announce a purchase of new IT equipment for Sava GIS improvement”.

Upon summarizing the project’s results, facts and milestones at the 4th General Assembly, the SHELTER consortium submitted the first technical report about progress and results achieved in the first 18 months of the SHELTER project to the European Commission.

SHELTER project coordinator, Aitziber Egusquiza spoke on the progression of the project since its offset. “We had the first project review meeting, an important milestone for SHELTER project, where EC project officer and two experts reviewed the results of the first period in order to monitor the project’s progress. All our work package leaders were excellent in explaining our results and answering the experts' questions,” she explained. “We are very happy to inform that the European Commission congratulated the consortium for our work, efforts and results.”

The European Commission and external reviewers assessed the projects progress, they underlined some potential risks and recommendations for its future improvement, giving it the green light to proceed towards the second half of the project.