Towards common training standards for the safeguard of cultural heritage at risk of disaster
The PROCULTHER Consortium is organising a Virtual International Training Module on the Protection of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage in Emergency to be held from 8 to 26 November.
This training module is among the activities implemented by the project with the aim of strengthening a European approach toward the protection of cultural heritage, its final objective being the development and improvement of technical and operational capacities for the safeguard of cultural heritage at risk of disaster at local, national and European level. Therefore, all European Union Member States and Union Civil Protection Mechanism Participating States received the invitation to select a disaster risk management and a cultural heritage expert to participate as trainees in this virtual training programme.
The course, adapted to a virtual format because of the COVID-19 related contingency, will follow the “Key Elements of a European Methodology to Address the Protection of Cultural Heritage during Emergencies”, the document providing for a set of elements to advance preparedness and response activities to include cultural heritage safeguard in all disaster risk management processes. This methodological document, built on the lessons learnt and best practices adopted by the members of the PROCULTHER Consortium in this field, considers the provision of adequate training as a crucial and effective disaster risk management tool, based on increased human resources available when needed. In this respect, a good level of disaster preparedness and, consequently, an adequate response in the event of an emergency, often clash with: the unavailability of technicians and experts able to combine specific professional skills with disaster risk management experience, the lack of adequate response capacities in terms of cultural heritage experts in the institutions involved in emergency management, and communication problems between the two sectors because of language barriers or different working methods adopted by cultural heritage experts and disaster risk management actors, although operating in the same field, when it comes to dealing with an emergency.
Consequently, there is now a widespread tendency to consider interdisciplinary training with shared procedures and a common emergency language, comprehensible to everyone and tested during tailor-made exercises, as a fundamental preparedness and capacity-building measure to better address and manage crises whose heavy impact on the world’s precious and fragile cultural heritage is unfortunately increasingly evident. In addition, this training programme aims at reinforcing capacities to operate in an effective, compatible and complementary way when facing a crisis, ensuring that the high quality and interoperability standards foreseen by the Union Civil Protection Mechanism – UCPM are respected.
This PROCULTHER virtual training program conceived on such premises aims to strengthen the protection of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage during emergency, to enhance knowledge, skills and procedures for the creation of UCPM-driven modules or teams dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage at European level, as well as to reinforce resilience capacities at national level. In particular, the course addresses issues that can increase the capacity of the UCPM to support any country or countries overwhelmed by disasters affecting the cultural heritage protection sector.
During the six-day training, highly skilled professionals in disaster risk and emergency management from the Civil Protection/disaster risk management Authorities and Ministries of Culture of the PROCULTHER Partner Countries (Italy, France, Spain and Turkey), experts from the UCPM and from the main international organizations active in this field, such as ICCROM and UNESCO, will share their expertise: from the institutional and legal framework related to civil protection and cultural heritage to the activation of international missions, including the deployment of teams, as well as the many operational issues to be dealt with on the field for the securing of cultural heritage. On 26 November, the training module will close with a virtual exercise, in a discussion-based format, simulating an emergency affecting cultural heritage.