GEORGE TOWN, March 1 — The Unesco offices in Jakarta and Apia have both selected Penang’s capital city George Town as a pilot site for a disaster risk reduction project, citing it for exemplary heritage city management.

Cultural unit head of Unesco Office in Jakarta Moe Chiba said they have always looked to George Town for good solutions and techniques when it comes to heritage city management.

“If there’s any good examples or good practices regarding world heritage management, this often happens in George Town,” she said in a press conference here today.

She said previously when she was in the Unesco office in India, whenever they had problems with disaster management, disaster risk reduction, uncontrolled development and other issues faced by heritage cities, they will always refer to George Town for solutions and techniques.

“So I am hoping, in terms of disaster risk reduction strategies, George Town will again set another example,” she said.

Earlier, George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) chairman Lim Guan Eng together with Chiba officiated the opening of a national workshop on harmonizing coordination to implement disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategy in the heritage city of George Town.

Lim said a detailed study of the hazards that a heritage city faced is required to identify gaps in disaster management plan.

“Managing a heritage city is not easy as conservation is more expensive than building new structure,” he said.

He said it is especially challenging implementing disaster and risk reduction plans to safeguard old heritage buildings under the heritage management plan that has no provisions for disaster management.

He said creative solutions are needed to incorporate safety guidelines while restoring heritage buildings in accordance with the heritage guidelines.

George Town was selected as a pilot site for the “Capacity Building for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) of Heritage Cities in South-east Asia (SEA) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific” project run by Unesco Office Jakarta and Unesco Apia Office in cooperation with GTWHI and International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoratiob of Cultural Property.

The workshop today is to discuss the development of an effective DRR strategies for George Town.

Chiba said it is critical to get feedback from stakeholders, government officials, heritage managers, disaster management offices and academics to develop DRR strategies.

“It will be a long and gradual process as it involved the community and the policy makers in working together to come up with the strategies,” she said.

Lim said the state will continue to strive for a more comprehensive and effective disaster management plan through its 4P partnership involving the Public, Private, People and Professional sectors.