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'London Declaration' to rescue cultural heritage

Publication date: Mar 9, 2006 3:14:30 PM

Top scientists and heritage experts from more than 26 countries across the EU and beyond are meeting in London for the 6th European Commission Conference on Cultural Heritage to discuss the future of scientific research for cultural heritage in the UK and other European countries. The conference, organised jointly by the EC and UCL will announce a set of recommendations that will shape the future of Europe’s cultural heritage for years to come. This will be known as the London Declaration. Press are invited to attend the conference.

Key figures in the protection of cultural heritage - such as Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage and Philip Campbell, Editor of Nature and - will take part in a roundtable discussion. This will assess the impact of climate change, terrorism and political support on the funding and direction of cultural heritage research. Nearly sixty oral presentations will be made and 80 scientific posters showing a selection of EC funded research projects on cultural heritage. Previews of current and upcoming scientific research will also be available (please see below for details).

Professor May Cassar, Director of the UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage, who organized the Conference, said: ‘Europe is the No.1 tourist destination in the world and is at the top of UNESCO’s world heritage list with more than 200 entries, yet in the last 100 years Europe has lost nearly 50% of the cultural heritage which had survived from previous centuries”.

She added: “Now we have to deal with the consequences of climate change. We have been reminded recently of the huge damage that flooding can cause – especially to porous old buildings. There is an enormous threat here – these buildings mean something to ordinary people - and researchers and politicians must unite to address it”.

Although the UK has attracted a good level of investment in its heritage, new threats and new challenges are emerging. In the event of flooding, landmark buildings along major European rivers including the Thames, such as the Houses of Parliament could be vulnerable. As more and more modern office buildings are built with deep, concrete basements, it is the soft foundations of the old buildings that will suffer the most damage from floods.

Conference workshops will run on Thursday, 2nd September (9am-12pm):

• Applying the results of research.
• Involving stakeholders
• Policy impacts on EC research.
• New and emerging European research.

Roundtable debate, titled Investing in Knowledge for Sustainability of Cultural Heritage, will take place on the same day at 3:30 pm
Speakers include:

• Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage
• Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of National Trust
• Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Nature
• Cristina Gutierrez-Cortines, a member of European Parliament for Spain.
• Dawid De Villiers, Deputy Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization, Madrid.

New research
• Laser technology in conservation
• Digital imaging of works of art
• Nanotechnology for cultural heritage
• Digitizing and reconstructing the past in 3D
• Anti-graffiti protection

Notes to editors:

  1. The 1 st EC Cultural Heritage Conference held in UK will take place on 2 nd September 2004 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London . Please contact the press office for further information.
  2. Useful links:
    http://www.cordis.lu/sustdev/environment/ and click on events
    http://www.ucl.ac.uk

Further information:

For further information, or to book a place at the conference, please contact Alex Brew, UCL press office, 020 7679 9726