CRITICAL: Cultural Heritage Risk and Impact Tools for Integrated and Collaborative Learning (Highlight)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences


Cultural Heritage (CH) shapes our identity, delivers capacities and exposes vulnerabilities yet cultural value and vulnerability are missing from conventional risk assessments that support sustainable development and growth. There is an urgent need to support the world's most vulnerable populations to adapt and thrive to rapid environmental change. Identifying and developing interdisciplinary methods that can be used to capture the 'invisible' vulnerability and value of CH is an urgent policy need, highlighted by ICOMOS's Future from our Past Report (2019). This need is greatest in developing countries where people often lack the resources and agency to develop frameworks for risk informed natural hazard management. Working in partnership across Indonesia, South Africa, and Sri Lanka this project will combine heritage management, cultural geography and climate risk research to form a community of practice focused on Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) and: 1) identify the key parameters for CH impact assessment; 2) deliver an impact modelling approach to inform risk information for decision-making, and 3) share resulting tools and learning through capacity building and research for policy. The 'CRITICAL: Cultural Heritage Risk and Impact Tools for Integrated and Collaborative Learning' project will directly benefit LMIC researchers, heritage/cultural organisations, as well as local policy-makers through the development of methods for inclusive risk assessment and research based capacity development activities. CRITICAL will benefit LMIC communities through improved cultural heritage and disaster management. CRITICAL provides an evidence base for ensuring economic viability of CH sites alongside their preservation and highlights the influence and significance intangible CH such as traditional knowledge systems. The CRITICAL team will deliver new and novel methods, data and information to evidence the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) CH protection workstream and contribute towards the CH and climate change research sector.
The University of Edinburgh in academic partnership with Universitas Gadja Mada, Indonesia;, the University of Pretoria, South Africa; and University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka will collate diverse knowledge on CH with the aim to co-develop CH vulnerability models and create the foundation for a place-based risk framework for LMIC.
CRITICAL is structured around four interconnected work packages (WP):
- WP1: Cultural Heritage Vulnerability and Values: A forensic investigation of past events and impacts on partner identified CH case study sites to identify key indicators for CH vulnerability and values.
- WP2: Impact Modelling: Using the indicators from WP1, WP2 will deliver co-created vulnerability models and pilot case study scenarios as evidence for CH protection and management from extreme hazard events and climate change.
- WP3: Virtual Capability Building: WP3 will ensure sustainability and global reach through a comprehensive and targeted capacity building e-course in risk and impact modelling for CH protection targeting LMIC early career researchers, practitioners, and wider stakeholders.
- WP4: Connecting community values for policy delivery: WP4 will co-develop a framework for future research focussed on the integration of community-based values into impact modelling and decision making for CH protection. WP4 will capture research findings and policy recommendations from all WPs.
We are experiencing an environmental and social crisis due to unprecedented climate change, alongside a shift in normal research practice due to COVID-19. By using remote research collaboration methods, CRITICAL will examine, capture and share CH vulnerability and value for comprehensive impact modelling in LMICs. This meets an urgent policy need: the co-development of cultural risk-scapes to support place-based climate and disaster decision making.


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