Towards safer and resilient historic urban environments

Authored by: Rohit Jigyasu

The Routledge Handbook on Historic Urban Landscapes in the Asia-Pacific

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138598256
eBook ISBN: 9780429486470
Adobe ISBN:


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The historic urban areas in the Asia-Pacific region that have withstood the test of time are becoming increasingly vulnerable to natural as well as human-induced hazards. Their vulnerability is not only physical but social, economic and institutional as well. Besides the adverse impact of natural hazards, one also cannot underestimate risks to urban cultural heritage from chemicals, war and terrorism. In the absence of any comprehensive legal framework for protection, historic urban areas are vulnerable not only to impending disasters but also susceptible to damage during emergency and post disaster recovery phases. This chapter elaborates on the underlying reasons for increasing disaster vulnerability of historic urban areas in the Asia-Pacific region that notably include: population growth; urbanization and poverty; the impacts of the predominant neoliberal paradigm of economic development; loss of traditional knowledge, capacity and management systems; planned as well as unplanned urban sprawl; failing infrastructure; and effects of climate change. In the light of these challenges, the chapter discusses a possible way forward to increase the resilience of historic urban areas through various mitigation and adaptation measures to be implemented with the help of monitoring indicators and performance guidelines, recognizing historic urban areas as assets for the sustainable future of local inhabitants. The chapter concludes by advocating for an integrated framework and an agenda for action for urban disaster risk reduction and consider multiple hazards, vulnerabilities and potential negative impacts on people, housing, infrastructure, livelihoods as well as heritage attributes for building a safer and resilient historic urban environment.

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