ASOC in FrenchCultural heritage is recognized to be crucial to our identity, social values, traditions and livelihood. When faced with a disaster, culture has proven capacities to amplify the resilience of a community and directly contribute to its sustainable recovery. It plays a vital role in post-crisis recovery and rehabilitation processes through renewal, reconciliation and adaptation. 

However, in practice, questions related to how and when to safeguard cultural heritage in an unfolding humanitarian crisis remain problematic. Where does one start? Who can help? How can the creation of new risks be prevented?

Through cascading capacity development initiatives, ICCROM’s FAR Programme – First Aid and Resilience for Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis trains multidisciplinary professionals both online and in person. Through an immersive curriculum and post-training mentorship, participants are enabled to implement key concepts and ideas learned in their own context by enhancing national, sub-national and local capacities, therefore amplifying the benefits of ICCROM’s capacity development.

A Story of Change – Success Stories and Lessons Learnt from the Culture Cannot Wait: Heritage for Peace and Resilience Project collects the experiences of 16 participants in implementing context-specific projects in 14 risk-prone countries. This group of participants took part in ICCROM’s Culture Cannot Wait: Heritage for Peace and Resilience (Culture Cannot Wait) project, which aimed to mobilize institutions and communities in their respective local contexts, while promoting early recovery, risk reduction and a transition to lasting peace. 

The overall outcome of these projects makes a strong case for integrating heritage into existing systems for disaster risk management, emergency response, humanitarian aid and climate action.

Culture Cannot Wait: Heritage for Peace and Resilience was a joint initiative of ICCROM’s FAR Programme and the Swedish Postcode Foundation, implemented in collaboration with the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and the Prince Claus Fund – ICCROM’s long-standing partners in First Aid to Cultural Heritage Training – alongside multiple other institutions from  diverse fields, such as disaster risk reduction, humanitarian assistance, civil protection and emergency response.

This publication hopes to inspire and engage new cultural first aiders worldwide to undertake similar action, furthering innovative approaches in the field of heritage conservation and encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, leading to increased understanding of the role that cultural heritage plays in alleviating multi-hazard scenarios, climate change and conflict. Translating A Story of Change into French dramatically expands its impact; now, more people than ever can take advantage of this valuable resource and learn about cultural heritage’s impressive potential.

“I could start by saying that the experience gained and the knowledge acquired during the FAC 2019 training has impacted my professional development. It has been an enriching experience where my understanding of the complexity of disaster risk management was, bit by bit, unfolding, as well as my skills on management, negotiation, and communication were enhanced. I later used these skills and the knowledge gained through this training, in the challenge of becoming head of the education & research area in my office, which in turn helped me write and manage projects on disaster risk reduction for cultural heritage.

But, saying this, it will not be fair and I will share only a little part of the course. The most significant part has been self development. Through the practical, cooperative & demanding activities, which pushed us out of our comfort zone, helped us create strong bonds with each other, become friends, and a team of well-informed professionals.

This course has filled my heart with joy, laughter and friendship. Meeting diverse and multicultural people from all over the world who came with different ideas, and now, share a common vision has been inspiring. It has given me new light for my eyes, which I want to pass on.”

Alessia Strozzi, Conservation officer - Italian Ministry of Culture

“I would always be thankful to ICCROM’s FAR Programme and the Swedish Postcode Foundation for giving us - the Risk & Resilience Institute, the Confederation of Risk Reduction Professionals and I - the opportunity to explore the potential of local intellect, indigenous knowledge and traditional practices of communities in the far reaches of Assam in India towards risk-informed sustainable development. Through the training component of ‘Culture Cannot Wait: Heritage for Peace and Resilience,’ It was amazing for us, a group of young professionals, to note how communities are risk-literate and have their curious ways of risk reduction and climate action. While the project was an innate capacity building exercise for us, it also opened an avenue for us to think on how to contribute more meaningfully towards leveraging culture in disaster risk reduction and climate action.``

Repaul Kanji, Co-Founder, Confederation of Risk Reduction Professionals (CRRP)