Starting in June 2022, the PROCULTHER-NET Partners began to gather elements for guiding and facilitating the implementation of the activities that will support the achievement of the project objectives; following a needs-driven approach, they embarked on a path of investigation then complemented by an analysis of the results and concluded with a consultative process that brought to the elaboration of an Ex-Ante Feasibility Study on the Establishment of a Thematic Community within the KN.
This Feasibility Study was then supplemented with:
- the results of the survey shared with the KN and circulated to the different contact points of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism Member and Participating States-UCPM MS/PS, as well as to other relevant stakeholders for having an overview of the state of the art regarding disaster risk management-DRM methodologies in use at local, European, and international level to ensure the protection and preservation of both tangible (movable/immovable) and intangible cultural heritage assets.
- the reflections made by the Partners during the Workshop “Pointing out the key element for setting up the PROCULTHER-NET Community” that was organised back-to-back with the Initial Planning Meeting to exchange perspectives and opinions about the characteristics that should distinguish this Community, namely its objectives, contents/tools, governance and structure.
The survey addressed specific topics, taking into consideration tools, methods, procedures related to the prevention, preparedness and response activities and measures put in place by all concerned stakeholders as well as their level of awareness on the objectives of the KN and their potential interest in joining the thematic community. In particular, the 65 questions proposed dealt with the legal framework, policies and planning, scientific community, international exchange and support, tools and resources to ensure the protection of cultural heritage assets, stakeholder mapping, human resources, training and exercise, and the communication to the public. 75 contributions were received from 28 different Countries (1) and, out of the 46 completed questionnaires received, a 35% came from National Civil Protection/DRM Agencies, a 17% were contributions from National representatives of both Cultural Affairs and Civil Protection/DRM Agencies, 15% from National Cultural Heritage/affairs Agencies, followed by Private entities (13%), academic/research sector (9%) the rest being International organisations/NGOs, and finally Local Cultural Heritage/affairs Agencies (4%). The territorial scope of the respondents can be reported in percentage as follows: 64% National, 14.67% International, 10.67% Sub-national/regional, 5.33% European, 1.33% Municipal, 4% other.
The high level of participation and information gathered provided further impetus for the enlargement of the PROCULTHER-NET thematic community within the KN: indeed, 90% of those who completed the questionnaire showed great interest in becoming part of it.
Moreover, the first findings of the survey shared by UNISOB during the Project Initial Planning Meeting held on September were analysed by the partners during the Workshop “Pointing out the key element for setting up the PROCULTHER-NET Community”. These exchanges allowed to further elaborate on the elements and process to be defined to support UCPM MS/PS in the inclusion of cultural heritage within the DRM process and to provide additional insights to this Study that outlines a comprehensive overview of the state of the art of the protection of cultural heritage at risk of disaster, and provides a shared perspective that can inspire and lay the foundations for the establishment of a dedicated thematic community, capable of working as a system and gathering the necessary expertise. This will ensure an adequate consideration and inclusion of the needs-driven aspects related to the protection of cultural heritage assets within the UCPM and, more generally, within the activities of Civil Protection and DRM agencies- at local, national and international level.
What is worth mentioning however is that the consultative process that led to this Ex-Ante Feasibility Study on the Establishment of a Thematic Community provided useful suggestions for the definition of its goals, structure and governance, as well as its future sustainability and potential evolution.
In line with the objectives of the KN, which are mainly based on the improvement of coordination and cooperation between cultural heritage agencies, civil protection experts and disaster management agencies, this community of practice must be aimed to enhancing the interoperability among different stakeholders. A consequent need is the work on knowledge transfer and consolidation through the exchange of experiences, best practices and lessons learnt, and on the stimulation of research and innovation in order to foster the adoption of new technologies in prevention, preparedness and response operations. With regard to this, particular relevance should be given to building capacities also by including the protection of cultural heritage assets and related scenarios in training and exercises. Other objectives that the thematic community should address concern networking and support to decision-makers, in order to fill, with interdisciplinary approaches, the many gaps of the legal framework and the planning of dedicated policies. Finally, the involvement of the scientific community has revealed to be crucial for the improvement of risk knowledge in terms of cultural heritage but also to enhance the adoption of innovative technologies not only in cultural heritage protection operations but also in the preparation of training programmes.
The way forward to an effective establishment of this thematic community now clearly entails the definition of the elements that will ensure its sustainability for the future. To date, the European Commission is promoting initiatives, such as PROCULTHER-NET, to enrich the solutions for the effective operation of the KN.
PROCULTHER-NET Consortium is eager to involve the largest number of actors and stakeholders active in the field, even beyond the European Union boundaries, to consolidate what has been achieved so far, fill the gaps identified and provide a concrete answer that can contribute to strengthen UCPM capacities and, consequently, to increase the resilience of our society.
(1) Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo,Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.