Action 8 - European Experts Meet for In-Depth Exchange on Integrated Approaches in Risk and Heritage Management

The Urban Agenda Partnership on Culture and Cultural Heritage held a two-day interdisciplinary workshop in the framework of its Action 8 on "Guiding Principles for Resilience and Integrated Approaches in Risk and Heritage Management in European Cities."

The hybrid workshop took place on 6 and 7 September 2021 in Bordeaux and online. It gathered, upon the invitation of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community and its Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), around 25 experts from different levels of heritage and risk management, along with representatives of local and regional governments, and members of their international networks. The workshop was prepared and organized by a consortium of German scientists, managers and planers, further referred to as ‘Research Team’, commissioned by the BBSR, with the help of representatives of the City of Bordeaux and Bordeaux Metropole. The workshop was substantially supported by the Action Group – a group of European experts in the Urban Agenda, who have followed the Action for around one and half years.

The workshop’s goal was to jointly discuss the main findings of the Scoping Paper, which was composed by the Research Team. The Scoping Paper analysed existing documents on integrated approaches in the field of risk and heritage management, and compared those with ten selected good European practices, in order to recognise challenges and opportunities for integrating risk and heritage management in European cities. To deepen and cross-check the insights from the desktop analysis, fifteen guided interviews with practitioners from different levels of heritage and risk management were conducted in June 2021. The Scoping Paper summarises the conclusions from the document assessment, the good-practices-analyses and experts interviews.

At the workshop, the paper’s eight key findings were presented by the Research Team leaders Prof. Dr. Stefan Greiving (TU Dortmund University and Plan+Risk Consult) and Prof. Dr. Carola Neugebauer (RWTH Aachen University):

  1. The (de)-centering of Risk Manage­ment
  2. Missing coherence of terms and concepts
  3. Risk Manage­ment and the concept of resilience
  4. The different spatial levels of Risk Assess­ment and Risk Management
  5. Missing guidance to Risk Assessment
  6. Splintered guidance to the phases and measures of the Risk Manage­ment cycle
  7. Missing attention to the objectives of Risk Manage­ment and Risk Evaluation
  8. Missing guidance on collaboration and coordina­tion

During six parallel breakout sessions, these findings were intensively discussed and finally affirmed and further enriched. The discussions emphasized the particular importance of the involvement of local stakeholders and revealed the urgency to regulate and improve the communication between the fields of risk and heritage management as well as between different levels within the fields. The necessity to encourage stakeholders and political agents to act before and not only in the aftermath of a crisis became especially poignant during the discussions. The experiences made by the participants during the very recent flood disaster in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands made the acuteness of the topic particularly evident. 

The relevance of the topic was also demonstrated in Bordeaux’s historic core: its Port of the Moon, one of the largest UNESCO World Heritage sites, is threatened by flooding and the general soil condition: recently, in June 2021, the crisis culminated in the collapse of two buildings in the historic centre. However, Bordeaux also shows the transformative potential of its cultural heritage: since the 1990s, numerous projects were implemented to redesign and upgrade the historic centre. The city focuses on sustainable mobility and the expansion of its public transport system, along with the sustainable design of public spaces: unsealing open spaces, redesigning the riverfront, and using water surfaces as a design element, to name a few. Ultimately, measures like these have significantly increased the historic urban fabric’s resilience.

The workshop’s inspiring and intensive exchanges will help progress the research and the Action. Based on those, a Guidance Paper is currently being developed, which will summarise the workshop findings and add new aspects to the existing Scoping Paper. The practice-oriented document will support local practitioners in the fields of risk and heritage management. 

Anybody who is interested in joining the European dialogue and the Action Group may get in touch with : 

 Bastian Wahler-Zak, German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR),

Jan Schultheiß, German Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building,

Photos: Christoph Klanten, Copyrights RHA

Pic. 1 Statements of Relevance at the introduction round of the hybrid workshop

Pic. 2 Collapsed building in Rue de la Rousselle in Bordeaux

Statements of Relevance at the introduction round of the hybrid workshop
Collapsed building in Rue de la Rousselle in Bordeaux