Following a natural disaster, very often the
media report that the local population was well aware of the risks and danger
areas, but that nothing had been done.
The existence of such Local Knowledge (LK)
is of little interest to the media before a disaster; it only becomes
“newsworthy” after the event. Since maintenance of the territory does not grab
the headlines, it is not a priority on the policy-makers’ agenda.
This results in a vicious circle and, for
example, heavy rainfall – which is merely an exceptional event – turns into a
Furthermore, the people’s perception of
danger is not always based on scientific fact.
It is therefore essential for it to be filtered by means of evaluations
by experts so that LK can be capitalised upon and become a genuine and
effective means of preventing natural disasters.
However, as the experts need to be
remunerated, the provision of platforms for the urgent dissemination of LK
would not be profitable for the media.
Yet, it would undoubtedly be a public service.
Action to define the means whereby the media
could reserve weekly platforms (for example “Protect your territory” pages) for
the urgent publication of LK on local risks could prompt decision-makers to
attach priority to maintenance of the territory and, consequently, to prevent
natural disasters, or at least reduce their impact.
Such action ties in with all the priorities
of the EUR-OPA programme and with the current policies of the major
international organisations (“Cultural Heritage and Local Knowledge for
Building Resilience”, UN Global Platform, Cancun 2017; Mobilising local
knowledge for climate change observations and solutions, UNESCO Experts
Conference, Georgetown, September 2017).