Disaster risk reduction: mapping training for Ukraine's heritage managers

Disaster risk reduction: mapping training for Ukraine's heritage managers

UNESCO organized an intensive training course for more than 20 cultural heritage professionals from eight regions of Ukraine threatened by increasingly frequent attacks, including the cities of Odesa, Kyiv and Lviv.

With the support of Japan, the in-person training, which ran from 26 to 30 July 2023, aimed to strengthen the knowledge and expertise of Ukrainian heritage professionals in disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, as well as advanced documentation on the state of conservation of cultural heritage sites.

UNESCO joined forces with two of the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), along with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

"When we ask ourselves how exactly to act, and what it means to be proactive, very often we don't have the answers. The best thing we can do is to come together to assimilate and integrate the best international practices," stated Kateryna Chuyeva, Deputy Minister for Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

Photogrammetry and laser scanning

Through theoretical and practical modules, the Ukrainian heritage professionals acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to proactively reduce the risks to heritage. Among other things, participants received training in the basics of photogrammetry and laser scanning, which is essential for identifying the main needs in terms of documenting the state of conservation of the properties for which they are responsible. The National Conservation Area ‘Saint-Sophia of Kyiv’ welcomed the trainees to apply these documentation techniques to a site as symbolic as this major component of the World Heritage property ‘Kyiv: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra’.

In times of war, first-aid skills for cultural heritage become essential. Interactive learning sessions including lectures, role-playing, group discussions and tabletop exercises enabled participants to carry out multi-hazard risk assessments and design a systematic emergency response to secure heritage and people, following the most recurrent critical incidents in today’s context, with the ultimate aim of minimising irreversible damage.

"An important outcome of this on-site training by UNESCO has been to strengthen communication between World Heritage site managers coming from the different regions. In addition to learning, we have also shared experience, and this has allowed us to identify common risks on cultural sites of each region," said Oleh Handyn, head of the Department of the Historical Environment Protection of Lviv City Council.

This workshop played a crucial role in establishing a network of trained and committed professionals in Ukraine who will effectively manage the threats to heritage throughout the country. UNESCO remains dedicated to preserving Ukraine's rich cultural heritage from the impact of war and to helping Ukrainian professionals to work closely with national, regional and international partners.

Within Ukraine, a country renowned for its cultural heritage, examples abound, such as here in Kyiv.
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