Italy has an outstanding cultural heritage that includes 59 UNESCO World Heritage sites, almost 5000 museums, more than 7500 public libraries, 20 MABs, 11 geoparks, immense archival heritage, and over two hundred and twenty thousand archaeological, historical, and architectural heritage assets spread throughout the territory. Together these represent a unique excellence on a global level. However, Italy is also vulnerable to hydrogeological, seismic, and volcanic threats – to say nothing of land consumption, pollution, tourist pressure, all exacerbated by climate change effects – which risk its loss to the peoples of the world. This risk led us to the creation of the Italian National Committee of the Blue Shield (IBS).
It’s not easy to create a roadmap for challenges like this. All four founding associations of the Blue Shield – International Federation of Library and Information Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the International Council on Archives (ICA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) – came together as representatives of Italy’s cultural heritage sector to design the new strategies for the Italian National Committee of the Blue Shield. This new Committee intends to involve and work closely with all Italian government departments, associations, and NGOs whose primary purpose is protecting natural and cultural heritage/property in the event of armed conflicts and natural disasters.
The Italian Committee of the Blue Shield plans to cover eight strategic and priority areas of heritage protection:
- proactive protection and risk preparedness of cultural and natural heritage (tangible and intangible) from the effects of conflict and environmental and anthropogenic disasters;
- emergency response;
- raising awareness of the importance of protecting heritage in emergencies;
- capacity building, education, and training;
- promoting community engagement with and participation in protecting cultural property;
- legal compliance, policy, and their implementation;
- research and dissemination; and
- coordination of Blue Shield members and partner organisations.
IBS wants to
- promote the protection of cultural heritage based on international law, in particular in the event of armed conflict, natural and environmental disasters, and large-scale emergencies
- collaborate with the Ministry of Culture, with the Directorate-General for the safety of cultural heritage and the other relevant Organisation and Institutions;
- promote the social enhancement of cultural heritage, from the perspective of cultural diversity, social cohesion and sustainable development
- carry out, promote and collaborate in research in the field of protection of cultural heritage, in particular with a view to measures and tools aimed at the prevention, awareness and management of risks and crises
- as well as publishing the results of this research in a timely manner.
As the guardians of their traditions, local people are at the forefront of any change, and the IBS committee members want to ensure that communities are at the centre of efforts to preserve their heritage/property.
The IBS network aims to support Italy in addressing future challenges to protecting its cultural heritage – more than 100,000 sites are exposed to seismic risk, landslides, volcanic hazards, and coastal risk across the country. Working together, the new national committee can provide a holistic overview of the challenges facing all of Italy’s cultural heritage, and plan to protect it – together.
Welcome to the Italian National Committee of the Blue Shield, from everyone at Blue Shield International.