Action 8: Resilience and Risk support for urban heritage (with reference to the UNESCO manual on Disaster and Risk Management)

  • Leïla Morais profile
    Leïla Morais
    20 July 2020 - updated 1 week ago
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The term of resilience is associated with the ability to react to crises and disruptions. In the field of urban planning, crises can be of a climatic nature, but can also be caused by epidemics or economic factors. The action tackles the lack of integrated approaches in the field of risk and heritage management at the local and regional level. It will foster the exchange of views and a common understanding in the field of heritage management, urban development, as well as risk and catastrophe management.

Many cities have developed climate adoption plans, urban development plans or disaster risk management plans. These plans rarely take into account the importance of cultural and architectural heritage. Furthermore, there is often no link between the individual planning departments and also no link with science to pursue integrated approaches. Instead, they often could be better coordinated with each other. What most of the tools and regulations have in common is that they put a low priority on cultural heritage, or do not consider it at all. Often it is overseen that cultural heritage makes an important contribution to urban resilience.

Similar to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, European cities face major challenges. The detailed analysis of the UNESCO Handbook on Integrated Risk Management for World Heritage sites can provide an important basis for the successful development of architectural heritage in European cities. The handbook deals with various types of challenges and risks, both climatic and epidemic, for World Heritage sites. However, not only World Heritage sites have to deal with these challenges, but also many cities in the protection, preservation and development of their architectural heritage.


To find answers to rising challenges effecting their heritage like heavy rain, heat or epidemics, cities require systematic and integrated approaches and strategies. In 2010, the UNESCO published a manual to help and guide authorities and managers on how to reduce risk on their heritage properties from man-made or natural disasters by offering them main principles and methodologies on how to identify, assess and mitigate disaster risks.

The manual provides a series of answers that might become relevant when developing a Disaster and Risk Management (DRM) plan and it explains the processual steps when preparing such a plan. While the process for UNESCO World Heritage Sites is already well developed, disasters might not only affect heritage properties, but also districts or cities as a whole. In such cases, urban heritage usually plays a minor role when it comes to reducing the risk of being damage.

The main goal of the action will be to examine measures, processes and integrated approaches that apply to a specific limited area such as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites regarding their transferability to European cities. The transfer of integrated approaches from a concrete specific space to the vast abstract space of European cities will be the aim of the action.

In addition, the action aims at expanding our common understanding of the resilience of urban heritage: The architectural and urban heritage must not only be preserved and protected, but it can also be an important driver and asset in urban development processes. In its structure and identification, as an adaptive and responsive system, the heritage of European cities represents an important contribution to urban resilience.


Understanding the city as a system in risk management is a first step towards being able to discuss integrated approaches in a goal-oriented manner. Achieving this is one of the objectives of the Action. The action aims to bring various professionals from relevant sectors together in a workshop in order to discuss how the processes and principles of the existing UNESCO manual can be transferred to the European level and European cities.

The experts will analyse what can be derived from the manual for an integrated approach in risk-heritage management in European cities. While it is a very broad topic, the workshop will focus on the issues that nowadays are the most pressing ones like heavy rain, heat or epidemics. The workshop is supposed to take place in a city where the manual is already practised, or that is very active in the field of heavy rain, heat or epidemics reduction.

The guiding principles for an integrated approach to risk-heritage management as well as recommendations about how to adapt the general principles to specific local situations will be compiled in a short publication (around 10 pages). The workshop offers the opportunity to discuss with experts the possible transferability to the European level. The main output of this action is the formulation of recommendations for action, which represent and further develop the research approach of this action.

Furthermore, the action aims to contribute to capacity building: The previously developed principles and guidelines can only be effective if the skills to implement them are available in cities and regions.

Partners involved

Action Leader: Germany

Partners: Cyprus, ICLEI


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