UNESCO designated sites – natural and cultural heritage sites as platforms for awareness raising

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. UNESCO's aim is "to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information". UNESCO has been strongly involved in disaster risk reduction (DRR) since the 1960s with studies on earthquakes and oceanography. Its programme has since expanded into other categories of hazards and many areas as it pursues multidisciplinary actions to study natural hazards and mitigate their effect.

UNESCO designated sites, including Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO Global Geoparks and World Heritage Sites, are located in various geographical settings and their territories may be partly or entirely exposed to various natural hazards and extreme weather events. Potential harm to these natural sites may, or may have already, also put the livelihoods of local communities at risk. However, even though there is a clear understanding that many UNESCO designated sites and their communities may be potentially threatened by disasters, analysis of reported thematic surveys reveals that most UNESCO designated sites currently do not have risk assessment and efficient risk management plans, nor do they have sufficient expertise and guidance on how to perform it. 

In light of the evidence above, urgent measures to strengthening DRR at UNESCO designated sites are indispensable. Various researchers, disaster risk management and other relevant stakeholders at national level should assist UNESCO designated sites in developing detailed risk assessments and integrating disaster risk management elements in management plans to safeguard UNESCO designated sites.

This paper is a contribution to the 2019 edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR 2019).

To cite this paper: 

Pavlova, I. et al. UNESCO designated sites – natural and cultural heritage sites as platforms for awareness raising. Contributing Paper to GAR 2019

VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
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