Gyeongju
Republic of Korea

Patricia Alberth – Bamberg (Germany)

#HeritageCityStories

 

Reflections on Covid-19 from the World Heritage City of Bamberg

On 17 March, the German Government decided to close the majority of shops, cultural, sports and leisure venues in an attempt to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bamberg with its 78.000 inhabitants came to a standstill. None of the average 7 million tourists p.a. was to be seen. We shut the doors of our newly built World Heritage Visitor Centre and cancelled all guided tours.

This was when I remembered the remark Jerry Velasquez from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) made at the OWHC World Congress in Arequipa in 2015: “The disaster that will strike next is not one we’re preparing for.”

And we were poorly prepared indeed for physical distancing in our snug old town with narrow alleys, very limited home office facilities and a digital infrastructure that leaves much to be desired. Therefore, our team has temporarily split up to support the implementation of the local economic relief programme as well as the disaster control unit. At the same time, we upgraded our digital presence with a new Instagram account (instagram.com/zentrum.welterbe.bamberg) and additional educational resources on our website.

Being involved in several networks and think tanks has sparked many questions for me:

  • How can indigenous knowledge contribute to enhancing community resistance to diseases?
  • Where does culture insert itself into the health/finance equation?
  • How can we make better use of digital technology for our joint heritage?
  • How can we pave the way to a more sustainable society?
  • How can we infuse courage and imagination of the future?

The months and years ahead are a call for responsible leadership – a call to empower each other, pool resources and collaborate. It is too soon to know what will emerge from this crisis, but it is not too soon to forge cross-sectoral alliances to contribute shaping our future.

Bamberg was inscribed in 1993 on the UNESCO World Heritage List due to its medieval layout and the well-preserved buildings mainly from the Middle Ages and the Baroque era. Since 1996 Bamberg has been a member of the OWHC.