Cultural Emergency Program

After disaster strikes, the wounds of an ailing nation require more than just reconstruction. Beyond temporary economic aids, heritage offers a salve that will bind a people together, giving them hope, strength, and most importantly, the belief in the lasting resilience of their culture.

Global Heritage Fund launched the Cultural Emergency Program (CEP) in 2015 to provide disaster relief for cultural heritage around the world. Cultural heritage is an increasingly vulnerable resource in our society; at any given moment, a historic city is destroyed at the hands of terror and ancient temples are crippled by natural disaster. Gone with these treasures are also intangible legacies such art and literature, not to mention the sense of identity for affected communities.

On our watch, we risk losing all the cultural treasures of the Middle East from the ravages of war; compromising the safety of ancient, sacred texts in Timbuktu; and becoming spectators to the inevitable downfall of Nepal’s heritage with the pounding of the next earthquake. Our ability to help cannot be held back by time or a lack of funds. The CEP makes sure that cannot happen.

Why Was It Started?

The Cultural Emergency Program was inspired by a partnership between Global Heritage Fund and the Prince Claus Fund, initially launched in 2013. The main goal of this partnership was to provide emergency and programmatic support to significant sites affected by conflict or natural disaster all over the world. In 2015, GHF decided to dedicate more resources to protecting heritage in crisis and officially launched the Cultural Emergency Program. Providing monetary and advisory assistance to heritage experts on the ground, GHF expects the Cultural Emergency Program will build local capacity to respond to emergencies and give people around the world the confidence and autonomy to tackle their cultural crises head on.

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What Does It Do?

The CEP will combat threats to cultural heritage in Africa, as well as severe looting and natural disaster incidents across the Middle East and Asia. It provides an unrestricted platform for donors to assist with emergency interventions and address the short-term, immediate needs of highly endangered heritage in areas of conflict or natural disaster.

This means we always have the financial capacity to reach out and help communities immediately, rather than having to wait for months until the funds are available. The CEP allows us to apply our knowledge, experience, and global network capacity to address the crisis as soon as possible, as events unfold, and with the dedicated efforts of our partners on the ground.


Why Is It Necessary?

We believe that emergency aid to cultural assets must be an essential part of every humanitarian outreach. Over the last two years, Global Heritage Fund has answered the call to contribute to several emergency projects worldwide. Now, it’s time to formalize this emergency outreach into an official program.

Nepalese soldiers stand next to wrecked buildings at Durbar square, a UNESCO world heritage site that was badly damaged by the earthquake, in the historical centre of Kathmandu on April 29, 2015,  following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the Himalayan nation on April 25. Rescuers are facing a race against time  to find survivors of a mammoth earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people when it through Nepal five days ago and devastated large parts of one of Asia's poorest nations.    AFP PHOTO / Philippe LopezPHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

How Does It Work?

Once disaster strikes a site, country or region, GHF will work with our Senior Advisory Board and strategic partners to evaluate the highest priorities for funding after the humanitarian crisis has passed. CEP activities could include rapid impact assessments or comprehensive damage assessments, evacuations of heritage assets (under extreme circumstances), emergency stabilization or conservation measures, or procurement of international experts for assistance to heritage experts on the ground.


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