The one-year anniversary of RURITAGE project highlights UNESCO’s contribution to building resilience within vulnerable communities.
The role of intangible and tangible heritage is of great strength to increase human ability to cope with the shock and stress of surviving hazardous events, also during the recovery process of restoring their normal life. The 4-year EU-funded RURITAGE project, launched in June 2018 under the Horizon 2020 programme, has completed its first anniversary and is already harvesting fruits in establishing a new paradigm for the regeneration of rural areas. More than 40 communities around the world are being turned into living demonstration laboratories, handling their own cultural and natural heritage as a key approach for sustainable development, economic growth and social inclusion.
Resilience is one of the 6 Systemic Innovation Areas (SIAs) through which a region’s unique potential is identified. A strategy based on heritage traits enhances the chances of a community to restore their vital conditions quicker, building resistance and flexibility not only economic-wise but also related to the people’s morale when faced with the unpredictability of disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.
Situated within a majestic area of great geographical diversity and geological treasures that present high risks related to various natural hazards, Katla UNESCO Global Geopark, in Iceland, is one of RURITAGE’s Role Models. Their innate wonders populated with ice-capped active volcanoes, tuff mountains and black volcanic beaches attract a big number of visitors yearly.By making use of landscape storytelling, merging holistic concepts of protection, education and sustainable development, Katla created a network of governmental agencies that provide guidance and assistance to the local population, teaching prevention and safeguard strategies, as well as promoting the local culture by placing a strong emphasis on nature tourism.
Another Role Model of the project is the Psiloritis UNESCO Global Geopark, located on the central part of Crete, in Greece, which offers a superb landscape geodiversity, with many volcanos, a wide range of animals and plants, as well as unique cultural heritage of oral history and mythology. In collaboration with the Natural History Museum of the University of Crete, the Geopark provides numerous educational activities daily. The local population, especially kids, and tourists can learn good practices, based on useful cases of previous setbacks, through training activities, programmes and tools developed to prevent and prepare for hazards, such as earthquake simulator, seismometer, educational suitcase, and a tsunami generator called “Make your vibration”.