The International Conference “Cultural Heritage: Prevention, Response and Recovery from Disasters,” will be held on Thursday and Friday at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and is intended to analyse the most effective way of managing, controlling and minimising losses and damage, according to an organising official.

Contacted by Lusa, Isabel Raposo Magalhães, one of the organisers, said that new risks to heritage were emerging, along with older and better known ones, such as earthquakes, floods and fire.

"The great growth of tourism in Portugal and, consequently, of visitors to museums, palaces and other cultural venues, have led to an increase in the risk of accidents with works of art as well as vandalism," said Magalhães, who works at the National Coach Museum, in Lisbon.

Along with this, terrorist attacks in large cities with important heritage, not just in the East but also in Europe, “have led to museums being closed and greater fears about destruction of works of art.”

Globally, specialists are concerned about “galloping urbanisation, and the spread of wars and conflicts throughout the world, with destruction of heritage and trafficking of works of art,” she warned.

Asked about the situation in Portugal, Magalhães said "there is greater awareness of the problem, but there is a great need to focus on prevention, working with the organisations involved as a network and to include civil society.”

The conference will be held on the 50th anniversary of the Florence flood, and is happening in the same year as the historical Italian city of Amatrice was hit by a devastating earthquake.

The speakers at the conference include Lina Kutiefan, the director-general of Antiquities and Monuments of Syriua, who will speak on “Syria’s Cultural Heritage during the crisis."

Corine Wegener, of the Smithsonian Institute, is also among the speakers and she will present the Institute’s disaster response programme.