PROCULTHER one-step closer to the definition of a European methodology for Protecting Cultural Heritage in emergency: outputs from the Rome International Workshop

On 10-11 December 2019, experts from Civil Protection Authorities and Ministries of Culture of the PROCULTHER partner countries and a representative from UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe gathered at the Italian Civil Protection Department for the International Workshop on Protecting Cultural Heritage in Emergency: Defining a European Methodology.

The event closes the consultation process launched in May 2019 in Italy, France, Spain and Turkey with the scope of collecting, in a participatory and comparable way, all the resources and practices available and ready for deployment by PROCULTHER countries to safeguard cultural heritage in case of emergency.

Giovanni De Siervo, Project Director, after a presentation of the workshop objectives and methodology to be implemented with the purpose of achieving the expected results, left the floor to Edouard Planche, Head of Culture Unit-UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, who provided the participants with the UNESCO international perspective and role in the field of cultural heritage protection. In particular, Planche mentioned the international policies endorsed by the most relevant international organisations and initiatives that acknowledge the relevance of cultural heritage, among others: the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the EU Strategy for international cultural relations (June 2016). UNESCO’s presentation confirmed the current mainstream: cultural heritage concerns should be integrated into civil protection processes and mechanisms and civil protection protocols and policies should be become standard procedures for cultural heritage.  

After these introductory interventions, all the project partners countries illustrated their own “National Report on the Safeguard of Cultural Heritage in Emergency Management”. Each presentation provided detailed information on the respective institutional frameworks, the cultural heritage related staff resources and teams available, the methodology applied, the civil protection emergency planning for the safeguard of cultural heritage, the current situation with regards to training and recruitment and the available good practices / significant experiences in the sector in each PROCULTHER partner country.

The second part of the workshop based on a participatory approach provided for joint work sessions, moderated by Aparna Tandon from ICCROM. Ms Tandon divided participants into three mixed working groups that were invited to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats emerged at each national level and then to define which expertise, procedures and practices to scale up and reinforce for the elaboration of a European methodology for safeguard of the cultural heritage.

Despite the differences reported in each country, the workshop participants reached an agreement on the backbone of a common methodology to address the protection of cultural heritage at risk of disaster. This methodology will take into account the following key elements:

  • Importance to make the institutional framework consistent and interconnected with the procedures and methodology of intervention;
  • Collaboration among Cultural Heritage and Civil protection actors at National and European level is essential;
  • Maintain a multi-hazard approach both in the phase of preparedness and response;
  • Define and train a coordination structure (cell/cluster/function) able to coordinate the operations of CH safeguarding;
  • Standardise tools, procedures and guidelines adapted to the different risks and  response activities;
  • Include the protection of cultural heritage in emergency planning;
  • Address and integrate any possible early warning activity/issue that could improve the safeguard of CH in emergency;
  • Define training standards dedicated to different actors/roles in particular in terms of coordination, risk assessment, damage assessment, short term countermeasures, first measures (first aid), safety and security;
  • Importance to include CH scenarios in local/regional/national civil protection exercises.

These considerations will be further developed in the coming months with the involvement of the stakeholders and working groups established at each national level. Starting from May 2020 these will be made available to interested UCPM Participating States, relevant EU working groups, Civil Protection Committee and will be promoted internationally by ICCROM.

On 11 December, meeting participants have been working on the project mid-term planning, namely on reframing the actions for laying the grounds for a European capacity on the safeguard of cultural heritage in emergency, which is the PROCULTHER second pillar and ambitious expected result. The next project milestone is the drafting of the general basic documentation on the European capacity able to intervene and support national response actions for the protection of cultural heritage during emergencies, whose essential features will be on the agenda of the PROCULTHER Second International Workshop foreseen in Segovia on early March 2020.

Outline for setting up the “National Meetings” and the “National Report on the safeguard of cultural heritage in emergency management”

Workshop photo gallery