UNESCO calls for a culture-centred approach to emergencies at the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit 2019
From 7 to 11 April, 600 culture practitioners from over 90 countries gathered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the Culture Summit 2019.
Dedicated to the theme “Cultural Responsibility and New Technology”, and organized by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, in partnership with UNESCO, The Economist Events, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation and Google, the Summit brought together leaders in arts, heritage, media, museums and public policy, each of whom shared a belief in the central and strategic role of culture in addressing contemporary challenges, including emergencies.
UNESCO led four sessions related to heritage in emergencies, addressing issues such as the importance of heritage protection in crises, the contribution of culture to post-crisis recovery and reconstruction, the role of new technologies and the emergence of new actors in cultural property protection.
Directors of museums, artists, conservators, heritage practitioners and representatives of international institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, NATO and ALIPH, among others, debated the power of heritage to reinforce the fabric of a society, by promoting reconciliation and fostering development in the wake of crisis.
H. E. Noura Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development of the United Arab Emirates, noted: “Heritage is what defines our identity. It is something we need to preserve and promote”.
“Our approach to cultural heritage protection in emergencies is people-centered”, said Lazare Eloundou Assomo, UNESCO Director for Culture and Emergencies. “We believe that, by safeguarding cultural heritage, we can help rebuild lives and communities”.
At the end of the Summit, UNESCO reaffirmed its commitment to coordinating international efforts to safeguard cultural heritage, and advocated for the use of new technologies, both for documentation and damage assessment purposes.