International Conference «Cultural Heritage: Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery»

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Auditorium 2 Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
In 2015, representatives of 195 countries met in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) to discuss the impact of climate change on societies, their livelihoods and their cultural heritage. Evidence suggests that torrential downpours, violent and unexpected storms, heat waves, new records in pollution and landslides are increasingly frequent.

Over the last few years alone, there has been a rise in the amount of incidents (earthquakes, acts of vandalism, wars, floods & fires) causing irreversible damage to cultural and heritage sites. We must not forget these sites are a record of our collective memory and their loss represents, in a sense, a loss of our own identity.

Portugal has had its share of heritage disasters. These include, amongst others: large earthquakes in Lisbon and Angra do Heroísmo; fires in the Palaces of Queluz and Ajuda, the Church of São Domingos and the theatre of D. Maria; a flood in 1967 that caused damage to the Gulbenkian Foundation’s collection. These are but a few from a long list of such disasters.

It is important that heritage custodians and managers improve their prevention-related policies based on risk evaluation and management and by training its professionals for emergency situations.

This year marks the 50th commemoration of the flooding of Florence (and a few months later the floods that devastated the Calouste Gulbenkian Collections). The conference therefore comes at an opportune time to collectively address the concepts, principles and good practices for disaster prevention and the response to emergency situations.

Through this conference we hope to create an exchange of views in the fields of heritage preservation and disaster risk prevention. Our aim is to encourage direct cooperation between heritage organisations, research institutes and the civil protection services. Ultimately we want to look at ways of achieving a more effective management of crisis situations and to create mechanisms to reduce damage to cultural heritage in disaster situations.

The conference will address themes such as: analysis and risk management; the effects of disasters on heritage institutions in the short and long-run period; examining what conservation tools are available for damage prevention and recovery. Finally, the conference also aims to broaden and reinforce international cooperation in these fields.


Organizing Committee: Isabel Raposo de Magalhães (MNC); Rui Xavier (FCG); Isabel Saraiva (FO); Xavier Romão (FEUP); Esmeralda Paupério (FEUP)

Under the Patronage of: ICCROM, Comissão Nacional da Unesco

Oficial Languages: Portuguese and English (simultaneous translation)

Registration: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian ([email protected])


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