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12.12.2015 - ODG

“Our living heritage holds many answers to the questions we face today”


On 12 December, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, took part in the inauguration of the international forum entitled "The contribution of UNESCO Member States of South-Eastern Europe to the dissemination and implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003", held in Sofia on the occasion of UNESCO’s 70th anniversary.

The event brought together participants from all South-East European countries including experts on intangible cultural heritage and representatives of state institutions and universities to explore the role of Member States of SEE in supporting UNESCO’s efforts to promote and preserve the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

It was attended by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Rumen Alexandrov, the Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr Boil Banov, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Professor Kostadin Kostadinov, the Rector of the University of Library Studies and Information Technologies, Professor Stoyan Denchev, the Deputy Mayor of Sofia, Mr Todor Chobanov and the Secretary-General of the Bulgarian National Commission for UNESCO, Ms Maria Donska.

“I see your discussions over the next two days as a unique opportunity to share best practices, to strengthen policies, to improve recognition of this heritage at the global level – its role in deepening social cohesion, in advancing human dignity and progress,” declared the Director-General.

“We have come a long way since the adoption of the Convention in 2003” continued Irina Bokova. “We have shaped a new global understanding of heritage, beyond monuments, to include living heritage, recognizing this as a force of innovation, social transformation and sustainable development […] Together we have shaped a radically new approach to the protection of the living heritage, putting communities and peoples first, as custodians and as bearers of cultural expression” she said.

The Director-General underlined that this is the same vision inspiration of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “For the first time, at the global level, culture, cultural heritage and diversity are recognized as drivers and enabler of inclusive and sustainable development”

“This is how we can build more tolerant, more inclusive societies. […] This is how we will craft new solutions to eradicate poverty and hunger, to create decent and green jobs in the cultural sector, in arts and crafts, in music and tourism. This is also how we can tackle the challenges of climate change and natural disasters, building on traditional practices and knowledge, to protect biodiversity and manage natural resources,” said the Director-General.

She concluded by saying “our living heritage holds many answers to the questions we face today. Culture is the resilience that we all need in today’s turbulent times and we have to cherish it".

Underlining the importance of safeguarding and transmitting cultural heritage, the Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr Banov, stressed that “intangible cultural heritage represents the continuity between the past, the present and the future of mankind".

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexandrov underlined the longstanding cooperation between Bulgaria and UNESCO and the strong support of his country to the implementation of the 2003 Convention. "Bulgaria has always supported the efforts of UNESCO to safeguard intangible cultural heritage.  The Regional Center for the safeguarding of cultural heritage in South East Europe established under the aegis of UNESCO is the only one in this category in Europe"" he said. 

Referring to the essential role of education and science for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Professor Kostadinov stressed that “it is essential to build the environment and to develop the skills and knowledge to safeguard and transmit cultural heritage to future generation. It is our duty”. "UNESCO is an Organization striving for humanity and its mission of promoting peace and tolerance should be an inspiration for all of us" he added.

At the end of the opening ceremony, the Director-General presented a UNESCO diploma for the inscription of the tradition of carpet-making in Chiprovtsi inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014. Ms Bokova also awarded distinctions to young students from secondary schools and universities in Bulgaria who won the youth competitions “Meet and share the living heritage of Bulgaria” and the National Youth Competition on “Cultural and natural heritage of Bulgaria – let’s think today about our tomorrow”.

The forum is co-organized by the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the University of Library Studies and Information Technologies, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria and the National Commission of the Republic of Bulgaria for UNESCO, and held under the auspices of UNESCO.

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