By Saeb Rawashdeh – Sep 18,2017
Claudio Cimino

AMMAN — Major natural — hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornado, flooding and land sliding — and man-made disasters of the past were relatively sporadic compared to the current trend, according to an Italian architect.

“Natural and cultural heritage worldwide are exposed to all sorts of threats as never before in my memory,” said Claudio Cimino, from Sapienza University of Rome.

The Italian expert added that, during the last few decades, “we assisted to a progressive increase of events of magnitude”.

Cimino lists global warming, climate change, natural and anthropogenic events that are often connected with neglect, misuse and a general mismanagement of the territory as the direct or associated cause of disasters of unprecedented proportions and frequency.

“We also register a sharp increase in destructive acts against natural and cultural heritage purposely conducted by vandalists, terrorists and irregular armed forces,” Cimino told The Jordan Times in a recent e-mail interview.

A combination of the several factors of risk may cause catastrophic damage or the complete loss of large quantities of natural and cultural heritage, often with a domino effect, to the detriment of the entire humanity, he added.

“These are phenomena that affect all spheres of our lives and our cultural legacy with it,” he added.

Cimino came for the first time to Jordan in November 1987 to coordinate a project within the framework of the Bilateral Technical Cooperation Agreement between the governments of Italy and Jordan.

“Since then, I have been active and coordinated projects mainly aimed at creating new job opportunities thanks to the development of cultural industries [in Salt] or through the restoration and conservation of cultural heritage,” he said.

This started with the establishment of the Madaba Mosaic Restoration School that used to focus on the conservation of the ancient mosaics, the scholar explained.

Cimino is also the secretary general of WATCH, an international association working to preserve cultural heritage and, in May this year, he organised the 8th International Conference on Science and Technology in Archaeology and Conservation in Amman.

The conference was organised in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, and the NGOs Cultech (Jordan) and FOCUH (Turkey), together with the Legado Andalusi Foundation (Spain).

“The 8th edition of the International Conference on Science and Technology in Archaeology and Conservation ‘STAC8’ represented a unique opportunity to gather around a table with an international, multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral group of experts from both public and private sectors, all of them engaged in the preservation of natural and cultural heritage around the globe on a daily basis,” Cimino noted.

The conference’s conclusions have been purposely condensed, he continued, under a synthetic document titled “The Amman Declaration”.

With their presence in Amman, the participants of the conference wanted to express their solidarity to their colleagues in Jordan and in the entire Middle East, who are facing all kinds of threats due to social unrest, terrorism and armed conflicts, the scholar said.

“The 9th edition of the STAC will focus on the latest challenges faced in the sector of natural and cultural heritage conservation worldwide starting from the contents of the Amman Declaration,” Cimino noted.

He is also planning, along with some colleagues from the region, to contribute to the promotion of sustainable conservation and protection of natural and cultural heritage, which is exposed to natural hazards and anthropogenic threats.