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Deadline for abstract submittal is October 31, 2008

(please read all information below carefully before submitting an abstract)


March 11 – 15, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana


Disaster Preparedness, Rapid Response, and Sustainable Recovery in the 21st Century

Heritage sites and their stewardship are vital to community identity and cohesiveness, the development and enhancement of civic life, and fostering and maintaining the democratic ideals that are the basis of American society and are a major contribution to efforts in cultural diplomacy abroad. The participation of U.S. preservationists in the international heritage community helps promote these ideals overseas and builds strong bridges with other nations, particularly when planning for and providing international disaster preparedness and relief assistance.

During times of disaster, human need is the first priority, yet within a short time efforts to rebuild infrastructure and re-house displaced populations are underway. Large-scale natural disasters in recent years include Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their effects on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region; earthquakes in Iran and China; the tsunami in Southeast Asia; floods throughout the U.S. Midwest and in northern Europe; and fires at important sites in England and in Greece, among numerous other examples. Given trends in global climate change and its effects, such phenomena, and others, are likely to have an increasingly profound effect on heritage sites.

Heritage preservation is a vital tool for rebuilding the social, economic, and environmental assets of communities. Without proper planning and preparedness, heritage resources that may have survived the initial disaster—and that are so vital to rebuilding community and identity—can be further harmed during rebuilding efforts or through lack of such initiatives. In addition to the community-building—or rebuilding—functions of heritage sites, many communities depend on economic activity derived from heritage tourism, rendering rapid response and recovery for heritage sites vital to the economic recovery of communities struck by disasters.

Theme of the 2009 US/ICOMOS International Symposium

The 2009 US/ICOMOS International Symposium will address recurrent issues of disaster preparedness, rapid response, and sustainable recovery utilizing examples from across the U.S. and around the world that have dealt with flood, fire, earthquake, and other natural and human-made threats to heritage sites. Presentations will highlight critically-assessed lessons learned. Specifically, the symposium will include:

  • A pre-conference mobile workshop on the Mississippi Gulf Coast;
  • Presentations by invited speakers with experience in heritage management in times of disaster; and
  • Field sessions throughout New Orleans neighborhoods during the conference.

Through symposium activities, participants will gain first-hand exposure to the range of issues and the challenges for preparedness and response. By assessing existing models and through dialogue with presenters, participants will have the opportunity to compare and evaluate practices to find effective and sustainable strategies for use in the U.S. and abroad.

As a result of symposium efforts, US/ICOMOS is confident that this exchange can promote a national model of preparedness, response and recovery for heritage sites. The resulting plan toward developing a model will better protect American heritage and also play a significant role in translating that protection to aid our friends throughout the world. A final report to be prepared upon completion of the symposium will provide a framework for a disaster preparedness, rapid response, and sustainable recovery model that can be built upon and implemented within in the U.S and will assist with U.S. assistance provided overseas.

Call for Abstracts (due 31 October 2008)

Therefore, US/ICOMOS seeks abstracts that discuss innovative, successful programs and partnerships involving collaboration in international preservation within these three broad areas:

  • disaster preparedness and planning,
  • rapid response by preservation/conservation professionals; and
  • sustainable recovery efforts following damage by disasters to heritage sites.

US/ICOMOS is particularly interested in receiving abstracts from the international community.

Instructions for Submitting an Abstract (please read carefully)

  • Abstracts must be received in US/ICOMOS by 31 October 2008
  • Maximum text of 250 words in English
  • US/ICOMOS will accept electronic (Microsoft Word or Adobe pdf files only) or hard copy abstracts
  • Abstracts may be accompanied by one (1) illustration only
  • The page with the abstracts must contain AT THE TOP the title of the proposed paper, the name of the author(s), and contact information (institutional affiliate, mailing address, phone number and email address).

A committee of distinguished preservationists will evaluate all abstracts. Authors selected for paper presentations will be notified by 10 December 2008. Non-complying abstracts may not be considered.

Send Abstracts To

Please, send your abstracts by e-mail to: or by fax to 1-202-842-1861 or courier/regular air mail (please, no return mail signature requests nor registered mail):

Attn: 12th Symposium Abstracts
401 F Street NW, Suite 331
Washington DC 20001-2728

Note: Each year, US/ICOMOS has made every effort to secure grants and monetary contributions to help defray travel, lodging, and registration costs for international speakers selected to present papers. While US/ICOMOS cannot guarantee that such funding will be available in 2009, we will try once again to secure such support.

For more information, please visit US/ICOMOS at

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119