United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - UNESCO
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations with its overarching objectives of building of peace, eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, sciences, culture, communication and information. In the field of disaster and climate risk management, UNESCO operates at the interface between natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication, playing a vital role in constructing a global culture of resilient communities through the building of capacities, awareness-raising, advocacy, and the provision of technical assistance.
UNESCO has been intimately involved in disaster risk reduction since the 1960s, with studies on earthquakes and oceanography. Today, UNESCO contributes to the global effort of achieving key international policy frameworks, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the Sustainable Development Agenda. The work of the Organization in the field of disaster and climate risk management is implemented and leveraged through the involvement of its different Sectors, Field Offices, Designated and Affiliated Sites, Category I and II Centers, and UNESCO Chairs and Networks.
Culture Within UNESCO, attempts to integrate culture in the field of disaster risk management led to the adoption, by the World Heritage Committee in 2007, of a Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction at World Heritage Properties. In addition, in 2013, a specific chapter on culture was integrated in the interagency Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), a government-led process supported by the United Nations system in cooperation with the World Bank and the European Union. For the culture sector, this implies that a single assessment methodology was defined to cover the social, economic and government-related impacts of a disaster, specific to the culture sector.
Since 2015, PDNAs that included a culture chapter have been coordinated by a number of UNESCO Field Offices, including in Ecuador (October 2016), Haiti (December 2016), and Antigua and Barbuda (October 2017), as the most recent examples. More recently, the 39th Session of the UNESCO General Conference adopted in 2017 an Addendum to its Strategy for the Reinforcement of the UNESCO’s Action for the Protection of Culture and the Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in the Event of Armed Conflict, concerning emergencies associated with disasters caused by natural and human-induced hazards. The objectives outlined in the Addendum are aligned with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and articulated around its four Priority Areas of Action.
Natural Sciences The Section on Earth Sciences and Geohazard Risk Reduction of UNESCO is engaged in the conceptual shift in thinking away from post-disaster reaction and towards pre-disaster action. Working alone or in collaboration with other UN Agencies and/or other scientific entities, this section has been a catalyst for international, inter-disciplinary cooperation in many aspects of disaster risk reduction and mitigation. By operating at the interface between natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication, UNESCO plays a vital role in constructing a global culture of resilient communities in a trans- and cross-disciplinary manner.
The Section assists countries to build their capacities in managing disaster and climate risk. It supports their efforts in preventing, mitigating the effect of and coping with disasters. This is achieved by using education and raising awareness in a culturally sensitive manner and focusing efforts on UNESCO designated and affiliated sites (such as World Heritage Sites, educational facilities, Biosphere Reserves and Global Geoparks). The Section assists Member States to further strengthens their scientific and technological capacity in identifying, monitoring and dealing with hazards as well as preparing for them via Early Warning Systems. The work of the Organization is being developed and implemented through its different Sectors, Field Offices, Designated and Affiliated Sites, Category I and II Centers, UNESCO Chairs and Networks, according to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and its four Priorities of Action.
The UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, based in Venice (Italy), is the UNESCO field office with the specific mandate to support the implementation of UNESCO’s program in the areas of science and culture with a special geographical focus in Europe (South‐East Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean). In particular, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Europe supports cooperation with and between the countries in its geographical scope providing policy advice, technical assistance, professional and institutional capacity‐building, as well as implementing multi‐disciplinary and trans‐disciplinary activities aimed to enhance science and culture as drivers and enablers for sustainable development disaster risk management in the region.
As the only lead international agency in the field of culture and science, and secretariat of the World Heritage Convention, UNESCO’s role in this project will contribute to ensuring compatibility between the methodological and scientific applications developed in the framework of the SHELTER project with the institutional and operational settings related to the management of the targeted beneficiary countries in the project.
Thereby maximizing the relevance, applicability and sustainability over time of the project’s results. Thanks to the extensive network of UNESCO HQ at the international level and the participation at international conferences and events, UNESCO is best positioned to promote the tools and solutions of SHELTER at both European with its field office in Europe and at the global scale. Moreover, dissemination of the results will be achieved through the secretariats of the various UNESCO designated sites.
UNESCO’s operational involvement in the project will be ensured through its Regional Office for Science and Culture in Europe (Venice), who will provide for the overall coordination, complemented with the support of key units within its Science and Culture Sectors (Paris). UNESCO will work in the attempt to bridge the gap between RTD specialists, site managing authorities, emergency managers and civil society as targeted end users in the open labs with demonstrative-validation functions.
UNESCO will also work to provide exploitability of the solutions of SHELTERS at the service of its member states and designated sites. UNESCO will be coordinator of Sava Open Lab.