Collaborating to Protect Cultural Heritage: ARCH Kicks Off First Mutual Learning Workshop

31 March 2021

Collaborating to Protect Cultural Heritage: ARCH Kicks Off First Mutual Learning Workshop

This month marked the first ARCH Mutual Learning Workshop, a landmark moment for the ARCH project as it cultivates a cooperative network of cities interested in boosting the resilience of their historic areas. The first workshop kick-started the process of knowledge sharing between Foundation Cities, or cities in the initial ARCH consortium (Bratislava, Camerino, Hamburg, and Valencia) and a broad-reaching new cohort of Keystone Cities, which includes: Alba, Italy; Appignano del Tronto, Italy; Augsburg, Germany; Cannes, France (TBC); Liverpool, UK; Maribor, Slovenia; Regensburg, Germany; Rhodes, Greece; Thessaloniki, Greece; Warsaw, Poland; Zadar, Croatia; and Zaragoza, Spain. What brought all of these cities together is a shared interest in better protecting their historic areas from natural hazards, especially those posed by climate change.

The session kicked off with a plenary session on the work of ARCH so far, demonstrating how ARCH fills the gap between heritage management and local action on climate adaptation. Next, participants dug into their common challenges together: Each Foundation City was matched with Keystone Cities that reflect shared traits, like proximity to a body of water or heightened risk of earthquakes. These clustered groups took part in targeted breakout discussions, sharing experiences and best practices while deepening their understanding of one another’s unique historic areas and challenges.

Breakout discussions quickly turned to what each of the participating cities see as priorities for enhancing resilience: In the session led by Hamburg, participants shared insights regarding shared risks like tidal and river flooding. The breakout group led by Camerino, meanwhile, stressed the importance of themes like social resilience and the need for awareness-raising around the vulnerability of historic buildings. In the group led by Bratislava, which was in large part driven by common hydrological risks, participants outlined potential approaches like stakeholder engagement, creation of advisory bodies, and the provision of decision support for policymakers. Valencia’s breakout group touched on themes like opportunities within agricultural policy and challenges with air pollution. Each of these clustered discussions was an opportunity to collaboratively explore the landscape of city-level solutions.

This workshop is the first in a series; part of the innovative Mutual Learning Framework driving robust collaboration between cities as they embark on their journey to enhanced resilience. This framework will also help with the testing and sharing of ARCH tools and solutions, ensuring that they are accessible and well-suited to meet the needs of cities in a variety of contexts. The Mutual Learning Framework is a step toward meaningful knowledge sharing among cities looking to make their historic areas more resilient.