Partners are essential for heritage conservation efforts, as collaboration can leverage various types of capital (e.g., financial, human, social, physical materials) for such activities as fundraising, management, research, education, and outreach. In disaster contexts, partnerships are needed to coordinate response efforts—and the importance of including cultural heritage conservation in response efforts is gaining more attention. In particular, ICCROM is increasingly viewed an important partner in both leveraging their network to access needed local expertise and training response workers in best management practices.
ICCROM, together with a range of institutional partners, has developed the “First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crises” (FAC) programme, a set of interconnected emergency response procedures leading to early recovery. FAC includes training courses and publications to safeguard heritage during emergency response.
During the week of 25 March 2019, ICCROM was invited to participate in an EU disaster response planning simulation exercise (MODEX 2019) that was contextualized around a scenario of extreme flooding in Florence, Italy. The simulation was coordinated by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) and Italian Civil Protection, as part of an effort to train teams in rapid, coordinated responses to disaster situations. Rohit Jigyasu, Programme Officer, ICCROM Regional Centre in Sharjah and an expert in disaster risk management for heritage properties, served as one of the institutional actors on behalf of ICCROM for coordination during the exercise.
Three teams, each mandated at strategic, tactical or operational levels, worked together to understand better how to coordinate with ICCROM during emergency response. Throughout the exercise, the team leaders expressed that although humanitarian efforts are their primary mission, this training exercise enhanced their awareness of their ability to facilitate first aid to heritage properties.
The exercise also included meetings with the Director of the Uffizi Gallery, located on the banks of the River Arno, and with Jigyasu at ICCROM. A few key areas for emergency response coordination included:
The inclusion of ICCROM and the Uffizi Gallery as actors in this disaster response planning exercise provided INSARAG teams with appreciation of the need to rescue cultural properties in coordination with international cultural institutions such as ICCROM. Moreover, it provided ICCROM with an understanding of the role and functioning of INSARAG for coordinating cultural heritage first aid operations. Other INSARAG Member States are encouraged to include partnerships with ICCROM in future emergency response efforts to help safeguard cultural heritage.
Member States represented: Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden.