- Documents and publications
Establishing the nexus between cultural heritage and risk-informed sustainable development: Experiences of understanding and addressing systemic disaster risk from the World Heritage City of Ahmedabad
This contributing paper investigates the process of how the risk, the translation of which contributed to faster transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and relatively higher deaths due to COVID-19 during the first wave, had been building in the World Heritage (old) city of Ahmedabad over a period of more than 600 years by considering the old city as a ‘system’ and its functional and operational dimensions as ‘sibling systems’. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted all walks of life. Although, the impact of COVID-19 in terms of estimated number of cases & deaths based on anecdotal data is available, the effect and impact, in terms of losses in different sectors await confident comprehension. It is understood that COVID-19 is the consequential manifestation of systemic risk but there are only few studies that goes back in time to investigate the chronic nature of underlying vulnerabilities in a community that is responsible for shaping the disaster at hand.
The study finds that the positive reverberations of the ‘Culture and Relations’ sibling system, outnumbers the negative reverberations. The results emphasize the importance of understanding and assessing risk at the local level as much of the chronic nature of risk is contextual. This study also explored how the overall system (the old city of Ahmedabad) managed to cope with the effect and impact of COVID-19 by leveraging its ways of life and collective consciousness - cultural heritage – to build a case of the urgent need of mainstreaming cultural heritage into risk-informed sustainable development. The case study shows an excellent example of how systemic capacities, oozing out of the cultural heritage of the community, stands out as an important factor of consideration in disaster risk management and risk-informed sustainable development.