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14.00  Enhancing Resilience of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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13:30, Mardi 7 Juin 2016 (30 minutes)

Heritage tourism has always been a driver of visitors at the local and international levels. It is inherent among human beings to try to reconnect with their past while being driven by different sets of motivations (novelty, self-exploration, enrich knowledge, connect with their roots, etc.). At the international/global level people relate heritage tourism with monuments and sites that are well known and symbolize regions, countries, ethnic groups, and even periods of times. These sites and monuments, in many cases, are on the list (or tentative list) of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites (WHS).

Research shows that there has been increased interest in UNESCO heritage sites, due to many factors like improved of accessibility, lower prices of airline tickets, globalization, strong marketing and campaigns, etc. This intensification of visitors and the adverse effects of climate change on WHSs have raised awareness about the importance of enhanced preservation and increased security for the sites. Nevertheless, so far there has been a lack of integration between the heritage sector and the disaster risk sector. It is necessary to address this issue in order to protect both the sites and the visitors. One way to succeed is to propose a model to enhance resilience of WHSs using as a reference the Social Ecological System (SES) resilience framework.

What has been done up to now? Non-governmental organizations, governments, private sector, communities, researchers, and other stakeholders have been working on methods to improve conditions at WHSs as well as on the preparedness of the sites in the event of a disaster or crisis. Without a plan, catastrophic events might have compromising impacts on the cultural assets.Several researchers have suggested a need to increase SES resilience in order to ensure preservation among heritage sites. More recently the Sendai framework has recognized the role of culture and cultural heritage within the disaster risk management framework. 

Thus, the purpose of this study is to analyze the risk assessment plan proposed by UNESCO and the Resilience campaign promoted by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for building resilience at WHSs, and compare them as well as the parameters specified. This comparison will aid in uncovering flaws, proposing improvements, and suggesting an implementation plan. 

Two important frameworks for enhancing resilience on world heritage sites will be analyzed: first, the risk assessment plan proposed by UNESCO and second, the Resilience campaign promoted by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Using as principal sources of reference the SES resilience framework, and a resilience framework proposed by Biggs, Shluter and Schoon (2015), both the UNESCO and UNISDR approaches will be analyzed and compared in order to find similarities, differences, strengths, and flaws. The first stage of this study will include a description of each approach. A second stage will compare UNESCO and UNISDR with the SES resilience framework in a quantitative way. The final stage will appoint ways to improve current methods used by UNESCO and UNISDR, and match them up with recommendations and trends available in literature. 

Why is this important? Improving current methods of enhancing SES resilience in WHS will allow heritage sites managers and destination managers to be prepared to face crisis, ensuring heritage assets for future generations and bringing a safe experience for visitors. 

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