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This statement focuses an the resilience of cultural heritage to natural disasters. Man-made disasters are excluded from consideration, although the devastation they induce is often comparable or even greater than the effects of natural catastrophes, as shown by recent and less recent wars or terrorist attacks. However, as man-made disasters invariably have societal causes, responses to them need strategies distinct from those dealing with natural disasters and need to be addressed separately.
In spite of numerous declarations concerning the protection of cultural heritage, national governments have been slow in taking effective actions. This is of serious concern since the list of recent catastrophic events that have severely affected the cultural heritage worldwide is extensive. Cultural heritage has suffered from the devastating effects of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, debris flows, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and fires. Unfortunately, for the most part, little has been learnt from these catastrophic events.