Unesco Bergen 24.-26. March 2014

Conference UNESCO Bergen 2014

Using natural and cultural heritage in sustainable development INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IN BERGEN 24-26 MARCH 2014 on the UNESCO 1972, 2003 and 2005 CONVENTIONS: SYNERGIES FOR DEVELOPMENT

Main content

1. Context

Following the 1972 convention, several UNESCO Member States expressed concerns that a bias towards tangible heritage was being established and proposed that legal instruments to protect also traditional cultural practice were sorely needed. Subsequent work in UNESCO eventually led to the 2003 convention on intangible heritage. Similarly, the 2005 convention on diversity of cultural expressions was also motivated by experience with the 1972 convention and the need to supplement it. It seems to be timely in 2014 to view the three conventions together and critically discuss how they can be useful instruments in protection and promotion of the whole range of cultural expressions and obtain synergies. Culture for development has been discussed at recent UNESCO related events, but sustainable development remains a critical issue in a world with increasing population. It remains unclear whether and how cultural practices for interaction with nature in the past, e.g. linked to agriculture and fisheries, can help protect biodiversity and promote sustainability. An important question is therefore how to not only protect but also actively use natural and cultural heritage at present and in future.

2. Rationale

The idea for the conference emerged as practitioners as well as researchers realized that there may be considerable synergies in developing activities related to intangible cultural heritage and cultural expressions in connection with physical heritage sites. Concrete local initiatives and activities on the ground may provide practical examples of implementation, and feedback to the national and global level for evaluation and development of policy. Critical perspectives from research are also needed. Cultural practices from the past may come into conflict with present norms and values. Old ways of using nature may not be sustainable if used by many people due to demands on efficiency. Cultural heritage sites should be accessible. Their conservation may then be threatened. Synergies between tangible and intangible heritage might provide solutions.

3. Goals and objectives

The overall goal of the conference is to critically discuss how synergies between the three conventions can be utilized to realize their related ambitions and how other UNESCO related instruments, regional and national mechanisms and practices can be fruitfully combined.

The conference will seek to critically discuss the specific questions:

  • How can synergies between the conventions and other mechanisms and practices be obtained on the ground – what works in practice?
  • What is the role of tangible as well as intangible cultural heritage and cultural expressions in contributing to sustainable development?

4. Target participants

Target participants include researchers in cultural and natural heritage and sustainable development, practitioners in management of heritage sites and related instruments on the local level and higher levels.

The conference should provide a meeting place for exchange of ideas. It should provide:

  • researchers with feedback on their findings and ideas for further work
  • local heritage managers with inspiration for new solutions
  • UNESCO and national level heritage managers with ideas for strategic developments

5. Topics

Invited keynote presentations and invited poster and oral presentations will highlight:

  • Relations between tangible and intangible heritage
  • Links between nature and culture
  • What works in practice?
  • From knowledge (Who´s knowledge?) to action
  • The landscape of values and what we value

6. Plan for the conference

The conference will invite both practitioners and researchers to present contributed papers along with invited keynote presentations during a three day conference. Conference dates are Monday 24 through Wednesday 26 March 2014 (arriving Sunday 23rd). Posters will be on display during the whole conference with a dedicated poster session Monday afternoon. The conference language will be English. Nearby sites will be visited during Tuesday excursions integrated in the programme with introduction also to related mechanisms such as MAB and economuseums.

A high quality cultural program will be integrated in the entire conference including sessions, lunches and dinner.

The location is in Bergen near the Bryggen World Heritage Site with possibilities for additional pre- and post conference tours. The main host and organizer of the conference is the University of Bergen with contributions from the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO, the City of Bergen, Hordaland County Council, and the County Governor of Hordaland