DR Rohit Jigyasu

President, International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICOMOS) India

Cultural Heritage as an Asset for building Resilience

June 29, 2015
 | Time: 
10:00 AM

The talk will examine the unique role of cultural heritage in disaster risk reduction. It will consider ways to draw upon heritage as an asset in building the resilience of communities and nations to disasters.

Cultural heritage is often associated with grandiose monuments and iconic archaeological sites that can hold us in awe of their beauty, history and sheer scale. However, the understanding of cultural heritage has undergone a marked shift during the last few decades. Cultural heritage today encompasses a broader array of places such as historic cities, living cultural landscapes, gardens or sacred forests and mountains, technological or industrial achievements in the recent past and even sites associated with painful memories and war. Collections of movable and immoveable items within sites, museums, historic properties and archives have also increased significantly in scope, testifying not only to the lifestyles of royalty and the achievements of great artists, but also to the everyday lives of ordinary people. At the same time intangibles such as knowledge, beliefs and value systems are fundamental aspects of heritage that have a powerful influence on people’s daily choices and behaviours.

Heritage is at risk due to disasters, conflict, climate change and a host of other factors. At the same time, cultural heritage is increasingly recognized as a driver of resilience that can support efforts to reduce disaster risks and for emergency response and post disaster recovery. The presentation will illustrate this positive role of heritage in building resilience through various examples.

Recent years have seen greater emphasis and commitment to protecting heritage and leveraging it for resilience; but initiatives such as few examples that would be presented in the talk, need to be encouraged and brought more fully into the mainstream of both disaster risk reduction and heritage management.

President, ICOMOS-India and ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk PreparednessInvited Professor, Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural HeritageRitsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan.

Rohit Jigyasu is heritage conservation and risk management professional from India, currently working as UNESCO Chair professor at the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan and is the Board Member of ICOMOS, President of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness(ICORP) and ICOMOS-India. He is also senior advisor at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) based in Bangalore, India.

After undertaking his post-graduate degree in Architectural Conservation from School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, Rohit has obtained doctoral degree from NTNU, Norway. His Doctoral thesis was titled “Reducing Disaster Vulnerability through Local Knowledge and Capacity- the Case of Earthquake Prone Rural Communities in India and Nepal”.

Rohit has also been teaching as the visiting faculty at several national and international academic institutions in India and abroad. As UNESCO Chair Professor in Japan, he is the scientific coordinator International Programme on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage. Rohit has also been consultant to several national and international organizations like Archaeological Survey of India, National Institute of Disaster Management, Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS), UNESCO, UNISDR, UNDP, ICCROM, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services and the Getty Conservation Institute for conducting research and training on Cultural Heritage Risk Management. He has been working for UNESCO and other international organizations like World Seismic Safety Initiative (WSSI) for undertaking post earthquake assessments in Gujarat, Kashmir, Indonesia and Bhutan. He also brings with him the practical experience of working on disaster risk management plans in the World Heritage sites of Khajuraho  Hampi, Konarak, Red Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, Jantar Mantar and Ajanta & Ellora in India as well as City Palace Museums in Udaipur and Jaipur, India. Rohit has contributed to various national and international conferences and meetings in India and abroad and has several publications to his credit, which include UNESCO Resource Manual on Managing Disaster Risks to World Heritage’ for which contributed as lead author.