Countries of action: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, neighbouring countries where possible
Overview: The countries of the Western Balkans have limited capacities to coordinate joint emergency responses between civil protection entities and cultural heritage institutions. On national levels, heritage protection is not deeply integrated into emergency response protocols and there are comparatively few trained experts in cultural heritage risk preparedness, mitigation, and response.
Extent and sources of risks: High threat posed by natural hazards such as earthquakes and floods, and urban hazards such as urbanisation and accidental fires.
Heritage at risk: Archaeological sites and historical cities and villages, museums and their collections, and archives and libraries.
Main goals and activities
Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) has held an exceptional force in the sphere of international heritage protection since its foundation in 1995. In Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, and Kosovo, CHwB operates as three independent foundations which, as of 2021, have operated as the Regional Hub in the Western Balkans.
Founded in the spirit of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, CHwB focuses on risks to heritage caused by natural catastrophe, neglect, poverty political and social conflict. Historic incidences of destruction of cultural monuments in the region have awoken regional and global audiences to the urgent need for heritage protection, but much remains to be done. As a Regional Hub, the CHwB offices have made significant strides in enhancing their national and regional cultural emergency response ecosystems.
The Regional Hub in the Western Balkans works tirelessly to preserve endangered cultural heritage in the region by engaging and training local and regional stakeholders, facilitating risk preparedness and mitigation practices, and forging connections between cultural heritage protection and post-conflict development and reconciliation. Each branch of CHwB also organises workshops with their respective partners focusing on universalising, streamlining and qualitatively improving risk assessment protocols for built heritage.