Israel to lead int'l powwow in Acre on how to protect world heritage sites from disaster

Israel to lead intl pow

The Antiquities Authority and the Israel Commission for UNESCO will hold a workshop on "Protecting Heritage Sites from Disaster" in Acre next week. The three-day event starts on Sunday in the city's Crusader fortress, and will focus on risk-preparedness at cultural heritage sites around the world. Last year, UNESCO held its first workshop on the issue in Olympia, Greece. "In this day and age, authorities from all over the world are trying to be ready for this kind of risk," Raanan Kislev, head of the conservation department at the Antiquities Authority, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "Cultural heritage sites will not be with us forever - there is a lot of danger and risk with things like earthquakes and climate changes." Professionals from 16 countries are coming for the conference, including speakers from Italy, Japan, Peru and India. "The workshop is about reducing the risk to cultural heritage sites - in Israel and around the world," Kislev said. "There are ways to stop the damage before it happens." Israel was chosen to host the event due to the country's abundance of cultural heritage sites, Kislev said. Places such as Masada, Caesarea and Safed are exposed to many risks, from earthquakes to floods to vandalism, he continued. The workshop will feature case-study presentations and discussions on the effectiveness of previous efforts. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit Beit She'an and Susita, heritage sites that have been struck by earthquakes. The hope is to prepare the basis for a long-term action plan to be adopted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which among other duties establishes the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. "We must have a plan to stop the damage," Kislev said. "It is important that we lead this conference with UNESCO to create tools and bring awareness so that we can be prepared for tomorrow."