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Climate Change, Disaster Risk Reduction and Effects on Cultural Heritage – The Example of the Philippines

When Nov 04, 2014
from 12:30 PM to 01:00 PM
Where Old Library, Lauterpacht Centre, 5 Cranmer Road
Contact Name
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The Centre for Rising Powers (CRP) and the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge, will jointly host the Philippine Ambassador to the Italian Republic and Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); World Food Programme (WFP); and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for a seminar talk

“Climate Change, Disaster Risk Reduction and Effects on Cultural Heritage –
The Example of the Philippines.”

on Tuesday 4 November 2014, at 12.30 in the Old Library, Lauterpacht Centre, 5 Cranmer Road.


Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 brought the world's attention to yet another disaster involving climate change in the Philippines. This Asian country of nearly 100 million inhabitants on the Pacific Western rim has experienced various natural catastrophes in the past due to its location on the earthquake-prone "rim of fire" as well in the typhoon belt and volcanic zone. The eruption of Mt, Pinatubo in 1991 resulted in the lowering of global temperature by a few degrees and as in the Icelandic case, prevented the normal flow of air traffic within the country.

Since the Philippines ranks 12th in the world in terms of population and is predicted to be 16th in terms of its economy in the future, its example as a country immediately confronting the issue of climate change is of interest, on the one hand, to small island countries which may actually disappear due to the rise of water levels and on the other, to medium-sized countries with important coastal cities. Both London and Venice are threatened by rising waters, to which the UK and Italy have responded with, in the UK's case, building physical structures as barriers and in Italy, with MOSE. The Netherlands has a long and vast experience in confronting hydro-meteorological catastrophes and has lent expertise to the United States in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

In terms of disaster risk reduction and mitigation, little attention and least priority is usual given to cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. The saving and well-being of human lives is, quite naturally, of top importance and the restoration of normalcy in the social, economic and political spheres an immediate preoccupation. And yet, cultural heritage is also of importance, given that people's identity, security and orientation are usually associated with "a sense of place." The earthquakes in Christchurch in New Zealand as well as in Aquila and Ferrara in Italy raised serious questions as to how familiar structures should be restored, rehabilitated, replaced or demolished.

This seminar by Ambassador Virgilio Reyes, Jr. will focus on the Philippine example in light of developments in worldwide conventions on cultural heritage as well as the evolution of thought and approach in the resolution of issues raised within this context. It aims at encouraging dialogue and discussion on possible solutions in light of the many problems brought about by climate change. Finally, it will focus on disaster risk and mitigation vis a vis cultural heritage, within the context of international law or national best practices, as a possible avenue in the future

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